Many years ago, at a Renaissance Festival, I met a woman named Rhonda. I really enjoyed her company, and what I noticed about her was her free spirit and bright energy. Fast forward to many years later, we had parted ways and gone on about our lives. She married a nice young man, had a second child. I worked on Evernight and released the album.
Somewhere along the way, I found out that Rhonda had cancer. It might have been something she announced on social media. I'm not entirely sure. But during her chemo treatments, she sometimes would send me reports of sitting in the chair and listening to Evernight. She would follow the latest news on the project, and had developed a really deep connection to the characters and the music.
Rhonda has a really interesting perspective on cancer. It angered her, make no mistake. But she struck at it violently and refused to let it overtake her life. Now in remission, I asked Rhonda to look back on that time and write a bit about how the music and story of Evernight: the Musical helped get her through such a difficulty. She obliged. This is what she wrote:
"Sometimes, when you least expect it, you find yourself in a place you never thought you’d be and you have no idea how you got there or how you’ll ever get back. I was in that place, not long ago; a place of fear and unknown. I found myself searching for anything that would give me hope or strength. I had a lot of living left to do and I was going to live. Make no mistake, because I was going to fight! For me, it was music, specifically the music of Evernight that led me into the brightness of my future. I will always be eternally grateful. It may seem odd that a dark fairy tale could be inspirational, motivational, but for me…well, it was the balm for a darkening soul. Nearly every important event in my life has music wound into it in some magical, meaningful way, so plotting to become a river pirate, while sitting in a chemo chair seemed perfectly logical, even perfectly plausible. I already had the prerequisite skull cap. You see, when you wish you had time to sit and do nothing but read, or listen to music or just rest your eyes, you almost never expect that time is going to be in a chair, while they pump poison into your body. Scary stuff that but I landed in Evernight, such wondrous, meaningful music, to soothe me on a journey so much like Bryony’s. Long, arduous and sometimes marked with setbacks, but traveled with friends, who could would scream, laugh, cry and dance with me along the way. All the while listening for a whisper in Master Sho’s foxy voice, “When you’re walking through hell, the trick is to just keep going!” Oh, and join some river pirates along the way!"
On Sunday night, March 26th, 11 cast members and 10 audience members attended a private read through of Evernight: the Musical in its newest rendition. The event took place at Studio 51 in Dunkirk, Maryland, under the watchful eye of Bradly Baerwald. Here was our cast for the evening:
CHILD................................Lynnea Mae Szklany
Before beginning, I took a mic and read Rhonda's letter. It was an excellent reminder of what we were all doing there in the first place. We have an obligation to tell good, simple, unifying stories. We collectively need to care about these characters and come together through beautiful, moving music. Because Rhonda reminds us that the world needs that.