LOS ANGELES—”A Journey of Angels” is a new musical about one courageous girl’s will to survive the Armenian Genocide. It’s currently in development with a theatrical workshop, to be performed in June. The musical is The musical features a book by Brent Beerman, music and lyrics by Kathi Chaplar and directed by Kay Cole. Additional information about the workshop will be announced at a later date.
Based on the novel My Mother’s Voice by Dr. Kay Mouradian, “A Journey of Angels” tells the story of an impassioned, 14-year-old Armenian girl named Flora, who dreams of furthering her education at the American Missionary school and traveling to far-away places to experience the diversity of the world.
Her dream comes to an unforeseen halt, when the Turkish government announces the proclamation that all Armenians must be removed from their homes and driven on a forced march, leaving behind everything.
Flora is faced with the horror of losing her entire family with the exception of her beloved sister. As she travels down the harrowing paths during the Armenian Genocide of 1915, Flora finds the courage and will to survive and fight for her freedom.
“Flora’s story is a symbol of hope. A young girl’s struggle to know her story and to witness her survival is to find hope in the struggle against all oppression and intolerance,” said book-writer Brent Beerman. “Her story, however, is more than an historical marker; it chronicles the life and journey of one Armenian village, focusing on one family, chronicling the persistence of one girl’s dream in the face of unspeakable atrocities. If we are to overcome future despots, then we must never forget what has happened to Flora, and the Armenian people through the horror of the genocide.”
Composer and lyricist Kathi Chaplar said, “Music is a direct link to culture, and for this reason I turned to traditional Armenian music for inspiration. Because this is a play about survival, about the power of family, and the preservation of culture, I didn’t want the music to take us out of the historic setting. At the same time, I want it to appeal to contemporary audiences, so the music has as its harmonic structure and melodies similarities to music transcribed by Komitas, often called the Armenian Mozart, but infused with a more contemporary feel,” she explained.
“And for some of the lyrics, I turned to traditional Armenian proverbs as inspiration in order to stay true to its imagery and spirit. In this way the music is an anthem of the Armenian spirit of both those lost in the Genocide as well as the power of the voices of the survivors,” Chaplar continued.
“My collaboration with Brent and Kathi began several years ago, quite by accident. A mutual friend introduced us, and we just became instant friends and collaborators. Our first project together was an original musical, created by Brent and Kathi, entitled 22% Fear. It is a wonderfully diverse partnership and has been easy since we all care deeply about the young voice and their future,” said director Kay Cole. “I have had the joy of directing the yearly musical with both Brent and Kathi for the last few years and directing their Falcon Players in many plays and teaching classes for young directors.”
“Also, Brent and I have written a heartfelt film script about bullying that we hope to have in pre-production in 2020,” she added.
In commemoration of Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, the creative team of “A Journey of Angels” will present an evening of select songs and scenes from the musical in development on Thursday, April 18 at 7:00 p.m. at Herbert Hoover High School Auditorium, at 651 Glenwood Road, Glendale, CA 91202.
Suggested donations: $10.00 for students and $20.00 for adults. Donations are accepted at the theater on the night of the performance.
The evening will feature students from Crescenta Valley High School’s Theater Department.
“Dr. Kay Mouradian approached us about presenting selections from A Journey of Angels as a springboard to initiate an education and understanding of the Armenian Genocide by using high school students to help audiences relate to Flora and the events surrounding her struggle from the point of view of an ordinary teenager. Since education is handed down from generation to generation, today’s teenagers need to be informed so that they can lead their children into the future. It is therefore imperative they participate in projects that, at their core, teach tolerance,” said book-writer Brent Beerman.
“As Kathi, Kay and I continue our journey in developing our theatrical workshop production, we want to impress on our future audiences that this horrific event is not an isolated moment in history or geography. The Armenian Genocide certainly set a precedent for the Holocaust which itself resulted in countless other heartbreaking stories like that of Anne Frank. Such manifestations of racism, hatred, and genocide continued throughout the world in the 20th and 21st centuries and tragically, there are too many modern-day Anne Franks and Floras in such places as Bosnia, Rwanda, and Syria,” he continued.
“As an educator, it has always been my mandate to empower young voices, and this project provides a unique opportunity for our theater students to work alongside professional actors. The students have also been given exposure to a dark chapter in history, one that is not usually taught in the history books, which enables them not only to bring to life the voice of these survivors, but to find the connections within themselves and realize the impact of their performance on their audiences,” stated composer and lyricist Kathi Chaplar.
The selection of songs and scenes from “A Journey of Angels” will also be presented on Wednesday, May 8 at the Consulate General of Armenia in Los Angeles, at 346 N. Central Avenue, Glendale, CA 91203. The evening will be attended by Armenia’s Consul General of Los Angeles, Dr. Armen Baibourtian. Attendance to the event is by invitation only.
“The rehearsal process and the ‘journey’ of a workshop for a new musical is very familiar territory to me. I have had the good fortune to be involved with several original musicals, when I lived and worked in New York on Broadway, the most notable being a Chorus Line,” shared director Kay Cole. “It is so important as a director to have a strong concept, great listening to your collaborators, a unique vision and trusting my own instincts. Keeping the rehearsal space a joyful and comfortable space is also vital.”
She continued, “You want everyone to work with respect and humor. When I am directing my goal is to always to honor the writer’s story but at the same time allow for a way to make discoveries and ultimately allowing the magic of the piece to blossom.”
Brent Beerman (Book), is a Los Angeles based playwright who has written numerous full-length and one-act plays that have reached national acclaim. His play, Gabriel’s Rapture, won the Corner Stage National Theater Contest and Millionaires was presented Off-Broadway at the Lyric Theater in New York. Dancing in the Shadows won the Pacificus Foundation of Los Angeles Literary Award, was featured in the Los Angeles Playwright’s Festival, and had a staged reading at the Moving Arts Theater in Los Angeles. A Dull Pain Turned Sharp was a prize winner at the MOXIE Films New Play Competition and it was featured at the HOWL festival in New York City. Other Los Angeles theatrical credits include: Mourning Song, produced by LA’s Underground Theater; the West Coast Premiere of A Dull Pain Turned Sharp, produced by the Group Rep Theater at the Lonnie Chapman Theater; and Another Washington Affair, was produced at the Avery Schreiber Theater. Brent has been the director of theater at Crescenta Valley High in Southern California and has developed a program that produces over 15 productions each year.
Kathi Chaplar (Composer/Lyricist), is an actor, singer, musical director, composer and arranger. She is the composer and lyricist for the original rock musical production 22% Fear, which toured at high schools throughout Southern California. Kathi is a founding member of the contemporary folk band Sojourn. Her acting credits include: A Dull Pain Turned Sharp (Julie standby) at Group Rep Theatre, I’m Just Wild about Harry (Ida U/S) and U.S.S. Pinafore (Buttercup replacement) at Crown City Theater; and Pasadena Playhouse’s production of Amahl and the Night Visitors (Shepherdess). Kathi has directed over 30 musicals in both the professional and educational realms, including Phantom of the Opera at Crescenta Valley High School, for which she received a Jerry Herman Award nomination. Kathi also teaches Theater, Musical Theater, English and Art History at Crescenta Valley High School.
Kay Cole (Director), a true Renaissance woman, Kay has been directing, choreographing, writing and teaching in Los Angeles, New York, and London for many years. As a director/choreographer, Ms. Cole’s credits include the film Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks; for Broadway, Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks(Belasco Theater); and on London’s West End, The Fantasticks and Snoopy. Kay has taught Acting for Film and Television at Emerson College LA and UCLA’s Musical Theater Conservatory. She is the proud recipient of the 2006 Playwrights Arena Award for her outstanding contribution to Los Angeles Theater. In 2009, she received a nomination for best choreography from the NAACP Theater Awards for her work in Atlanta, at the Geffen Playhouse. Kay has directed original plays by Brent Beerman including A Washington Affair at Avery Schreiber Theater and A Dull Pain Turned Sharpat Group Repertory Theater. Her recent directorial successes are In A Booth at Chasen’s at the El Portal Theater, I Only Have Eyes for You at the Montalban Theater and Firecracker, and original play she also co-wrote. Currently she is in pre-production to direct and choreograph Daniel in Babylon, an original rock opera film.
Dr. Kay Mouradian is a documentary filmmaker and author of books on yoga and meditation. A professor emerita from the Los Angeles Community Colleges, she holds a doctorate in education from Nova Southeastern University and degrees from Boston University and UCLA. Her documentary, “My Mother’s Voice,” is based on her novel with the same name. The documentary was awarded Honorable Mention for Best Documentary at the 2012 Pomegranate Film Festival in Toronto.