a new American Musical
Staged Reading
A winner of the 2014 TNT POPS
book by Paul Elliott
with music by Jeanie Cunningham
Directed by Engela Edwards
Staged reading and musical performance

Saturday, March 15, 2014 at the Bastrop Conference Center at 2 p.m. 

The moving story of a southern town, immediately after the Civil War.

The TNT POPs Festival had 90 entries that were read by 2-rounds of readers. 
Then 4 directors from around Texas chose from the top-10 scripts.

Engela Edwards chose Dula.

From the director Englea Edwards about the musical:  Dula is the sincere story of a small southern town immediately after the civil war, and although historically placed in time, there is a modern feel to the writing.  It could easily be the story of a Texas boy coming home after a war.  The truth, as it relates to the individuals in the story, doesn’t matter; because it is an honest story about war.  It is this universality of time and space that drew me to the script. 

Every role is a good one, with lines actors will want to say.  Elliot is able to achieve this with an economy of words, where full back stories turn on a single word.  Dula’s main character is the town.  It is populated with well-rounded people.  In life, every person is the hero of their story, and it is a rare author who can accomplish the same within the time limitation imposed on a stage production. 

Paul Elliot expertly holds the tensions, and packs a lot of emotional variety into this musical.  For almost every trough in which he submerges us, he brings us back with a lightness, a laugh, and a hope that things will get better.  I was attracted to the skill and maturity of his writing and his ability to manipulate emotions, without making us feel manipulate.  He is adept in his use of metaphor without being heavy handed.

I loved the script before I heard the music.  Elliot and Cunningham’s lyrics are poetry.  Cunningham's music is powerful, touching, and sweet.  Many beautiful songs, that easily stand on their own, become heartbreaking in the context of the story.  I look forward to producing this new American musical, and thank TNT POPs for bringing it to my attention.

You should see this new American musical.  You can here the music performed by Jeanie Chunningham here.  I couldn't be happier for Jeanie and Paul.

Tamara Billett
Ariana Billett
Michelle Billett
Alicia Gust 
Danne Absher
Rachel Edwards 
Danielle Huber 
Kody Dyer
Engela Edwards

                                    Elliott Paul Elliott, the head of the Fierce Backbone Writer's Unit in Hollywood, is a respected novelist, television writer and published playwright. His "Ledge, Ledger and the Legend" was recently honored as one of the 25 most highly produced one act plays in America. His latest comedy, Exit Laughing, a 2013 AACTNewPlayFest winner, just broke all house records for a non-musical at the historic Landers Theater in Springfield, MO and is now scheduled to open in New York. His award-winning drama, "Finding the Burnett Heart," which premiered during the 50th season of the Detroit Repertory Theatre, is now being performed coast to coast, and always garners rave reviews from critics and audience alike.
Jeanie Cunningham Jeanie Cunningham's music has been heard worldwide as part of several high-profile product campaigns. Mitsubishi, Epson, Yamaha, Toshiba, and Chevron are among the many companies that have recruited Jeanie's musical talents. Jeanie's first calling however, is to her own original music as a singer/songwriter/performer. She continues to move forward in her musical pursuits with the new musical, DULA, for which she wrote 23 songs. Her most recent accomplishment has been to create the Steinway Society's "Ukes In Schools" program-devoted to bringing musical instruments and education to underprivileged elementary students in the Coachella Valley of California.


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