On the heels of a production of the legendary August Wilson’s Two Trains, in which “the specter of incarceration is everywhere, as is the intergenerational weight of being disinherited from wealth, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, Marin Theatre Company is raising the stakes even higher with its next production, “Justice: A New Musical,” the groundbreaking new musical from MTC’s National Playwright in Residence Lauren M. Gunderson and award-winning composer/lyricist duo, Bree Lowdermilk and Kait Kerrigan. The play arrives in February and runs through March 12, 2023.
The theatrical mashup of music and American history continues its world premiere here in Mill Valley, with Gunderson, Lowdermilk and Kerrigan presenting a new version of their groundbreaking musical fresh from its world premiere last Spring at Arizona Theatre Company.
JUSTICE features the “firsts” of the Supreme Court Justices. 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.
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