Since the Marin Theatre Company rose the stakes in recent weeks with the announcement that the groundbreaking musical “Justice: A New Musical” would be its next production, the excitement has been palpable. With MTC’s National Playwright in Residence Lauren M. Gunderson and award-winning composer/lyricist duo, Bree Lowdermilk and Kait Kerrigan behind the production, the play arrives in February and runs through March 12.
But while we wait, another exciting, Ruth Bader Ginsberg-inspired event is coming our way on Jan. 23 at 7:30pm, when MTC joins the Lark Theater for a one-night only screening of “On the Basis of Sex,” the 2018 American biographical legal drama film based on the life and early cases of RBG, who was the second woman to serve as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
Ticket holders for the film screening will receive a free glass of or concession beverage and enjoy a live performance of an original song from “Justice.” Film attendees will also receive a discount on tickets to MTC’s upcoming production.
“Justice: A New Musical,” a theatrical mashup of music and American history, presents a new version of the trio’s groundbreaking musical fresh from its world premiere last spring at Arizona Theatre Company. It is 1993, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg has just joined the United States Supreme Court; the first and only other woman Justice, Sandra Day O’Connor, is ready to welcome her and get to work. Joining their ranks to complete the picture of the first four female judges in history are Sonia Sotomayor and Ketanji Brown Jackson. In an intimate, epic new musical built with sweeping songs, urgent conversations about equality, and truly human heroines, we come to know these iconic Justices at the height of their power. We discover how they inspire, challenge, and propel the next generation of changemakers and trailblazers in American jurisprudence. They confront each other about equal justice under the law, strategy, civil rights, husbands, kids, dreams, and sorrows, all while setting a new course for our country and the world.
“Justice is my first experience writing a piece of theater that is daily impacted by the news,” Kerrigan says. “It is such a challenge and thrill to musicalize our shared American history and speak to the moment we are living through. It feels vital to engage with the women whose seat on the bench forced our justice system to reckon with gender, inclusivity, race and equality.”
The musical explores the bipartisan relationship between the late and liberal RBG and the Reagan-appointed Justice O’Connor, along with the landmark confirmation of Justice Sonia Sotomayor as the Supreme Court’s first Latina justice. Written a year before Ketanji Brown Jackson became the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court, the production also presciently nods to Justice Jackson’s rise by following the nomination process of a fictional female African American Supreme Court nominee, Vera, according to the San Francisco Standard.
While at times divided by ideology, the musical’s female leads are united by their shared womanhood and experiences as “firsts” on the Supreme Court. Justice O’Connor was the first woman to sit on the court; Ginsburg was the first Jewish woman on the bench, followed by Sotomayor and Brown as barrier-breaking women of color. With the legal fallout of Roe v. Wade’s overturning, the production promises to be timely.
The third play of the season is the West Coast premiere of Where Did We Sit on the Bus? (May 4-28), Brian Quijada’s one-person musical play investigating where Latinos fit in an American racial history narrative that too often poses a false dichotomy of Black or white. Satya Chávez, who wrote some of the show’s compositions, stars, and Matt Dickson directs, the Chronicle reported
To cap off the season, MTC is launching the two-week Marin New Play Festival, in which professional theater artists workshop a quartet of new plays with Tam High students, each getting a staged reading.
Subscriptions range from $138-$250. Single tickets will be on sale at a later date.
The Lark Theater is located at 549 Magnolia Ave. in Larkspur.