The White Buggy
The White Buggy's World Premier is on
The Round Barn Theatre Stage. No Kidding.
Monday, September 17, 2018
The Round Barn Theatre
1600 West Market Street
Nappanee IN 46550
Book and Lyrics by Frank Ramirez
Music and Lyrics by Steve Engle
Conceived by Richard Pletcher
When the Director and Gal Friday of a small television production company arrive in Nappanee to make a reality show “exposing” the truth about the local Amish community, they discover that despite the struggles facing mainstream newspapers nationwide with regards to declining circulation, printer Martin Zook cannot keep up with the demand for his weekly Amish newspaper, “The Vision.”
Zook has just hired Hyrum Yoder, a young Amish widower whose wife died when her buggy was hit by a drunk driver. Zook knows Hyrum needs the extra money to buy a new farm before he marries Lily Bontrager. Lily had not yet married because she’d been taking care of her aging parents. No one else in the Amish community is interested in cooperating with the TV producers -- but Hyrum is tempted, because the money is too good to turn down.
The paper -- and the show -- is tied together by Amish scribes from across the country who write letters describing local activities to be printed in “The Vision.” Four of these scribes are seen throughout the show chronicling the events they witness, keeping Amish informed about what their brothers and sisters are doing across the country.
The Musical's Developmental Journey
The show was conceived by Round Barn Executive Producer Richard Pletcher, who asked himself: In an era where print media struggles -- some say it is dying -- why do several well-known Amish weekly newspapers published from Indiana to Pennsylvania and Ohio to Ontario thrive? What does this say about the permanence of Amish culture, and what does it say about the larger American society as well?
In 2014 Pletcher shared these questions with his friend Frank Ramirez, who had recently moved back to resettle in Elkhart County as the Senior Pastor of the Union Center Church of the Brethren. The two considered exploring the answers together through a play which has now become a musical. Ramirez in turn contacted his writing partner, composer Steve Engle of Alexandria, Pennsylvania, which whom he had co-authored four other musicals.
After two years of writing, composing, and consulting with each other, a first workshop production was produced in July of 2016, performed at the Union Center Church of the Brethren, featuring a cast of more than 30 adults and children. The three performances before over 550 people were well received. A series of conversations between Frank Ramirez, Richard Pletcher, Steve Engle, and the Round Barn’s Artistic Director Amber Burgess followed, seeking to tighten the focus of the plot as well as to clean up inconsistencies and red herrings, and to craft a new title.
The staged readings by the theatre’s professional acting company in the fall of 2017 was the next step in development before mounting another full scale production in 2018. The title is the third iteration of the show's concept, from The Persistence of Vision to Plain Paper: Amish News that's Print to Fit, and finally The White Buggy.
Reserved seating tickets can be reserved in advance by calling 800-800-4942 or through www.amishacres.com. Admission is $15 per person and $10 for groups of 10 or more. A special Haystack Dinner will be served in the Restaurant at 6:30 for $9.95.
A Letter to Community Theatres
This letter is written to introduce you to a new musical, The White Buggy, written with local, community playhouses in mind. A special performance is planned to introduce this show to community theatres September .
We are offering you two complementary tickets to attend this performance. To reserve your complementary tickets contact the box office at the Round Barn Theatre at 800-800-4942
FYI, extra tickets for the event, which is also open to the public, are $15, with $10 tickets for groups of ten or more.
Here’s why you should consider coming to the Round Barn and why you should consider performing this show.
FIrst and foremost, this is a funny show, with real heart, and a subtle yet strong message. Good things last. When a character challenges the idea of a weekly paper, asks, “What could possibly be worth reading a week after it happens?” another one replies, “What’s worth reading if it’s not still news a week from now?” For more, see the attached synopsis.
The musical is written with you in mind. The cast size is workable -- eleven to thirteen people who double a few parts. The show times out to two hours, with a fifteen minute intermission. The musical accompaniment is provided on CD. We listened to concerns about language and subject matter. There’s a single, ingenious set that provides visual variety without complicated set changes.
Why should you consider producing this musical now? Our goal is to develop this musical as part of the American reportory. At this point royalties will be a good deal less than they will once The White Buggy appears in the catalogs for regular production.
History of the musical’s development: Four years ago Richard Pletcher, Executive Producer of the Round Barn Theatre, asked playwright Frank Ramirez if he’d ever considered writing a play about The Budget, which is the weekly national newspaper of the Mennonites and Amish.
In this digital age people get their news from many sources, some of them dubious, with the result that mainstream newspapers are struggling. The Budget, which features posts from Mennonites and Amish scribes, continues to grow in circulation. Why?
Ramirez contacted his writing partner, Steve Engle of Alexandria, Pennsylvania, a composer, playwright, and performer, with whom he’d previously written five other musicals. The two began working with Pletcher on the project in concert with Amber Burgess, Artistic Director of the Round Barn. In 2016 an amateur production was performed at a local church to test the script. Many changes were made, leading to staged readings by the professional company at the Round Barn Theatre. A decision was made to introduce the musical to the area theatre community at a special performance September 18, which will feature a combination of profesional company actors and local community performers
Stick around afterwards and let us know what you think. We’ve been evaluating and rewriting every step of the way.