Theodore in the Valley is a folk musical about a sickly boy who went to nature to find healing, and became the Man and President who saved America’s wilderness. Help us bring this timely story to life in our premiere New York production.
Join a cast of four actor-musicians on Theodore Roosevelt’s untold coming-of-age journey, brought to life in the songs of award-winning playwright and composer Ted Bushman. Walk with us from the walled garden behind his childhood home, over the arid expanses of the Badlands and finally to the heights of Yosemite... and the beginnings of America’s national parks.
In the spring of 2016 composer/writer/actor Ted Bushman picked up a copy of Edmund Morris’ biography The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt and spent an afternoon reading it in the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. Before he had even made it a hundred pages, he knew a lot about the project. He knew it had to be a folk musical, played by actor-musicians. He wanted the sound to evoke the American West and the expanse of nature, drawing on musicals like Once, Big River, and Hadestown as well as artists like Kristian Matsson, the Punch Brothers, and Sufjan Stevens. He knew that, like Theodore, it was a piece full of indefatigable optimism, enthusiasm in the face of others’ cynicism, and transformative experiences in nature. In less than a year, the show was born.
Since then, our team has come together and the show has been helped along by friends all over. We’ve put together readings and workshops of the show with collaborators in New Hampshire, West Virginia, and New York. We premiered songs from the show at The Green Room 42 in March.
Theodore in the Valley is designed to be performed in both indoor and outdoor spaces. In order to explore and perfect it, we intend to put on Theodore’s world premiere in New York City in the summer of 2019. We’ve already scouted around the city parks and are looking to have Fort Tryon Park or Inwood Hill Park as the backdrop for the very first performances.
This is where you can help! We have a team of incredible collaborators ready to tell this timely story. Help us celebrate Conservation and reinvigorate this awe-inspired, profoundly American value by supporting our premiere production.
We are experiencing a moment where America's National Parks are threatened, and the very idea of conservation is hotly debated. We don't believe this is a partisan issue. Theodore Roosevelt was an industrialist and a Republican, and his legacy has transformed nations and lands across the world.
Theodore’s legacy shaped America in the 20th century, and it has power to shape it anew in the 21st. Given our changing world, many people are concerned about our future, and with many good reasons. The show itself takes a strong stance that regardless of party affiliation, our natural resources can be better taken care of. And we’re passionate about more than that.
Performing this piece outdoors, in the National Parks, sends a powerful message that these institutions are the result of the striving and dreams of those who came before. We hope to remind viewers that we can have the same journey that Theodore had: We can find healing and personal empowerment through a connection with nature. We can overcome our weaknesses and challenges, and become strong enough to face them. And, perhaps most importantly, we as individuals and society have incredible power to shape the future: the future of the natural world, the future of our communities, and our own souls.
Our 2019 production will not only be a full premiere, it will also serve as a springboard for our biggest dream for Theodore: a National Parks Tour.
We plan to take Theodore in the Valley to the incredible parks Theodore designated and those enabled by his legacy. We will perform in the parks themselves, in outdoor amphitheaters, indoor education spaces, and in theaters and venues nearby to the parks.
We have already begun reaching out to key individuals and locations for a 2020 tour. This production will be a springboard to connecting with press, as well as corporate and private sponsorship opportunities.
John Muir. Our narrator, John Muir, was a bard of the wilderness, protector of nature, and a crusty old man. He didn’t meet Teddy until his Presidency, but in the play as narrator he speaks for the land, its struggles, and its power to heal.
Teddy Roosevelt. Born to an important New York family at the turn of the century, Theodore was eccentric from the beginning. His enthusiasm about nature and his effervescence for life, however, were stifled by brutal childhood illness. But with the help of his father, hard personal labor, and the power of nature, he has a chance to become much more.
Edith Carow. From a young girl in the walled garden to a perceptive, brilliant woman, Edith was one of Theodore’s closest friends, who understood his potential but also better than anyone knew his flaws. Her influence greatly impacted this young boy and the Man he became.
Joe Ferris. A cynical, hard-bitten cowboy, Joe Ferris was the man who first introduced Teddy to the American West. Solid, hardworking, with a heart beaten down by the industrial forces that control his world, Joe serves as a mouthpiece for the anger, the despair, and eventually the hope of an exhausted nation.
Various Others. From Scottish immigrants to politicians to exhausted woodsmen, members of the cast will take on other roles, bringing to life America at the end of the frantic 19th century and the hopeful dawning of the 20th.
Songs from Theodore in the Valley premiered on March 14th at The Green Room 42 in NYC’s theater district, as part of Ted Bushman’s concert Towards Higher Things.
Members of our team have worked on multiple Broadway shows (Kinky Boots, Dear Evan Hansen), the acclaimed documentary Netizens (which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival), and MOD Theater Company’s Project X.
We are already working with several national parks including Yosemite, Arches, Theodore Roosevelt Park, and Canyonlands on planning our national tour.
Ted Bushman (writer/composer/actor) will play the role of Theodore in the show. A two-time Eugene O’Neill Festival semifinalist, Ted won Brigham Young University’s Mayhew Playwrighting Award in 2013. He is currently writing his third musical.
Andrew Joy (Producer) is a Broadway associate general manager at Foresight Theatrical. His current productions include Kinky Boots, Titanic, and My Very Own British Invasion. He is a graduate of Columbia University with an MFA in Theatre Management and Producing. Prior to Foresight, he worked at 101 Productions, where he worked on the Broadway productions of Dear Evan Hansen and Sunday in the Park with George.
Steffie van Rhee (Producer) is a documentary filmmaker & producer from Amsterdam. She holds a graduate degree from The New School and is one of the producers of Netizens (Tribeca, Hot Docs 2018), a documentary about women & online harassment. Her recent projects include the upcoming short film Swipe (director Niels Bourgonje), television documentary At All Costs (director Juul Op Den Kamp) and an episode of the international documentary series The Rising Tide about climate change and the rising sea level.
Taylor Hatch (Director) is an NYC-based director and playwright. She holds an MFA in Playwriting from University of California at Riverside and a BA in Theatre Studies from Brigham Young University. Her original plays have been presented at KCACTF, BYU, UC Riverside, Hudson Guild Theatre, Toronto’s Theatre InspiraTO, the Barter Theatre of Virginia, and the Secret Theatre. She was a finalist for Caltech/Pasadena Playhouse's Mach 33 and a semi-finalist for the Premiere Stages New Play Festival, and recently received a production of her play Project X with MOD Theatre Company. Recent directing credits include new works The Light Rail at NYMF and happysadness at BYU. She is a member of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop and the 2018 Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab.
We’re dedicated to making the show accessible — all performances of this production will be free. Still, making theater costs money. We’ve raised about $2.5K last Spring some of which paid for recording our demos and the rest will go towards this premiere production. The money from this Kickstarter will be used, first and foremost to pay the artists involved fairly and professionally. Everyone involved will be paid in equal shares.
Additional costs will include: permit fees, instrument and equipment rentals, insurance, set/props/costumes, transportation, publicity and general administrative costs.
As we are partnering with MOD Theater Company, a non-profit, all donations are tax-deductible.
Donating to our Kickstarter makes you a part of the Theodore in the Valley community, and we want to give rewards that reflect that.
Starting at our $10 donation, all backers will receive a digital download of a demo song! At $50, donors will get all four. These demos were professionally produced with our incredible friends Spencer Carter and Preston Judd, and were performed by Leslie Hiatt, Kevin Stokes, Carson Wright, Brian Carey, Erika Hubbard, and Ted Bushman.
Our beautiful poster and additional art was designed and created by Stephanie White (whose art can be followed @veiltale_illustration).
We hope you'll join us in bringing this incredibly powerful story to life. Thank you.
- The Theodore in the Valley Team
Risks and challenges
Our producing team and director have been producing theater and documentaries for more than 10 years, in New York and elsewhere. We are confident that given the success of this Kickstarter we can fulfill our goal of producing Theodore In the Valley in New York this year.
Given our plan to perform Theodore in a park, permits will be required. Given our friendship with the local arts organizations who have done park performances, however, we have expertise available to us to make sure we can be above-board and official.
We can’t control the weather! But we can plan for it. We will have rain-out performances planned in case of inclement weather, and have specifically chosen dates during some of the driest portions of the year.
Theodore in the Valley is currently a semifinalist at a very prestigious development workshop. If it were to pass through the next few rounds and be selected, the August/September timeline could be disturbed. In this case, however, the show would only be benefited and all funds would still go towards the next step to help this show reach its full potential.
There are risks to the continuity of the show if something should happen to the creative team. However, in this circumstance, the show could still be produced as all the text and music has been well-documented, and although each artist is truly one of a kind, we’re confident the show would still go on.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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