Dakota Sky

A Musical Diary

Book & Lyrics by Kathleen Cahill
Music by Deborah Wicks La Puma

Synopsis

Although lost to common history, 12% of homesteaders in Wyoming, South Dakota and Colorado between 1887 and 1908 were single women. Dakota Sky was inspired by the letters and diaries of these single women who homesteaded the great plains at the turn of the century.

On the night before the last land lottery in the American land rush at Fort Pierre, South Dakota, five single women are crammed into a tiny back room, awaiting their fate: Abigail, a housemaid; Ida, a teacher; Viola, a prostitute; Wilomene, a society girl; and Mary, the acting Indian Agent for the lottery. In these few hours they are joined together by the ghosts of their pasts and their hopes for a new beginning. When the night is over, they know their lives will never be the same.

“Earnest and moving… imaginative and evocative… it’s hard not to be touched by the collective grit.” – The Washington Post

History

Olney Theatre Center, Olney MD

Dakota Sky (originally titled The Fifth Season) was developed in part by a 1994 New American Works Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. It premiered at Olney Theatre in 1996, directed by Jim Petosa, and was the recipient of a Helen Hayes Nomination for best actress (Anita Hollander). It was awarded the 1996 Jane Chambers Playwriting Award (the first musical in the award’s 13 year history to be so honored), and has been showcased by the Dramatist Guild in New York City.

Among the show’s assets is its highly American subject matter; not just in terms of history, but also the quintessentially American theme of reinventing yourself.” – The Baltimore Sun

Musical Numbers

ACT I



1. PRELUDE – Women



2. OPENING – All
2. OPENING – All



3. NEVER GONNA MAKE IT – Ida, Viola



4. WILOMENE’S WALTZ – Wilomene, Lewis



5. R.F.D. BOX 3 – Abigail,Clyde
5. R.F.D. BOX 3 – Abigail,Clyde



6. THE GRASS IS GOLD – Women
6. THE GRASS IS GOLD – Women



7. JUST US BABY – Viola, Jerome
7. JUST US BABY – Viola, Jerome



8. WHITE BEARS – Men



ACT II



9. NOTHING GROWING ANYWHERE – Clyde



10. THE JOINING – Ida, Billy



11. WHAT’S THERE TO FEAR – Women
11. WHAT’S THERE TO FEAR – Women



12. RIVER OF LOVE – Wilomene, Abigail, Clyde
12. RIVER OF LOVE – Wilomene, Abigail, Clyde



13. JUST US BABY (Rep) – Viola, Jerome



14. THE FIFTH SEASON – Women



15. THE LOTTERY – All



16. FINALE – All
16. FINALE – All



Audio demo features John Rusnak on piano along with the voice talents of Pamela Shandrow (“Abigail”), Anne Kanengeiser (“Mary”), Kelly Grant (“Viola”), Sharmila Guha (“Wilomene”), Marie Hodgson (“Ida”), Sean MacLoughlin (“Jerome”), Michael Scott Harris (“Clyde”) and Greg Mills.  

Ms. Cahill’s lyrics are smart, and Ms. La Puma’s score combines reined in sounds of solitude with the occasional soaring outdoorsy line. The performers easily keep the audience hooked throughout this ambitious show.” – The Washington Times

Production Elements

Cast: 5 women, 5 men (who also serve as chorus)

Female
ABIGAIL – a housekeeper (Soprano)
IDA – a young school teacher (Soprano)
VIOLA – a dancer, sometimes prostitute (Alto Belt)
WILOMENE – a New York Debutante (Mezzo)
MARY – the Indian Agent (Alto)

Male
CLYDE – longtime homesteader (Lyric Baritone)
BILLY – Ida’s young love (Tenor)
JEROME – Viola’s abusive boyfriend (Tenor)
MR. MAXWELL – Washington Bureaucrat.  Also plays LEWIS – Wilomene’s Father (Baritone)

Music: Semi-Operatic Folk/Americana, scored for Piano, Clarinet/Flute, Violin and Cello by Matt Smedal.
Musical Difficulty: High
Technical Requirements: Minimal
Suggested Audience: Adults

Its creators have approached these topics with skill…cleverness, and evident passion… (La Puma’s) score is at once bouncy and dissonant. her anthemic opening number is a corker, and several of her subsequent songs live up to its promise.” – City Paper

Authors

KATHLEEN CAHILL (Book & Lyrics) – is a graduate in Musical Theatre at the Tisch School of the Arts. Her awards include three Edgerton Foundation Awards, the Jane Chambers Playwrighting Award, two Connecticut Commission on the Arts Playwrighting Awards, a Massachusetts Artists Foundation Award, a Rockefeller Grant, a National Endowment for the Arts New American Works Grant, and a Drama League Award. She was a DGF Travelling Master in 2019. Her play Charm (NNPN Showcase) was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize; her play The Persian Quarter was nominated for a Steinberg Award. (Both published by Dramatic Publishing.) Her produced musicals include Friendship of the Sea (North Shore Music Theatre) Dakota Sky (Olney Theatre) an opera, Clara, two opera/cabarets, A Tale of Two Cities: Paris and Berlin in the Twenties (Maryland Center for the Performing Arts), a comic opera cabaret, Fatal Song (most recently Utah Opera) a short opera, The Better Man, (Utah Opera) Perdida, the Winter’s Tale set in Mexico (Published by Dramatic Publishing.) Her plays include the comedy, Course 86B in the Catalogue (Salt Lake Acting Company) The Still Time (Georgia Rep/ Porchlight Theatre, Chicago) the comedy, Women Who Love Science Too Much (Porchlight Theatre and NPR Radio) Charm ( National New Play Network Festival, Salt Lake Acting Company premiere, Kitchen Dog Theatre, Dallas; Orlando Shakespeare; Taffety Punk, Washington D.C., New Hampshire Theatre Project, among others) The Persian Quarter ( Salt Lake Acting Company, Merrimack Rep.) Harbur Gate, an NNPN commission. (Salt Lake Acting Company, 16thstreet Theatre, Chicago.)   Henry, Louise and Henri (one act) and The Robertassey at Women’s Playwrights Initiative, Ivoryton Playhouse, CT; The Robertassey  was the featured play at the 2019 Seven Devil’s Playwrights Conference.  Silent Dancer a groundbreaking dance/play premiered at the Salt Lake Acting Company in April 2019. A new musical, LATE, about the effects of gun violence on a small group of high school students, will be presented at Berklee College of Music in Boston in 2020 (Postponed due to coronavirus) and is currently a project with Moonbox Productions, Boston. Recent: Her play One Stone was a semi-finalist at the Gary Marshall New Play Festival, and the first prize winner in the Women’s Voices Festival at Mad Cow Theatre, Orlando. Madera Canyon is a finalist at the Cell Theatre, Albuquerque.  She wrote the screenplay for the independent feature, Downtown Express.

DEBORAH WICKS LA PUMA (music) – see her bio page

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