‘Jim Cullen’ lives, with Robinson score

Jul 20, 2014
Composer, conductor and collaborator Aaron Robinson, at keyboard, leads the cast through his new musical score for Heartwood Theater’s original production “The Legend of Jim Cullen – A Dramatic Musical.”

Newcastle — “The Legend of Jim Cullen - A Dramatic Musical” is returning, tighter, restructured and compacted since its premiere last summer and soaring on the notes of a brand new, Broadway-style musical score by Midcoast native Aaron Robinson. The Heartwood Theater show will open Thursday, July 24, for a two-weekend run in the Parker B. Poe Theater at Lincoln Academy, Academy Hill.

Heartwood Artistic Director Griff Braley created the book, lyrics and new staging concept for “Jim Cullen,” whose cast includes Waldoboro residents Emma Tolley and David Myers. He and Robinson spent much of last winter immersed in the story, lyrics and notes of this icy legend. This spring, they emerged with a refined, renewed, unified version of this original dramatic musical.

“The Legend of Jim Cullen” is the story of a New Brunswick immigrant living in the wild frontier of Aroostook County in 1873 — the only recorded lynching victim in New England history. The morality play questions, probes and challenges, and its issues are timely: man continues to wrestle with questions of inequity, prejudice, social and religious liberty, compassion and the value of the individual.

Accomplished musicians, singers and actors, some from around the country, bring new faces, a new look, a new sound and feel to this production. A nine-piece orchestra led by Midcoast native Sean Fleming supports a cast and chorus of 19 as they deliver this compelling original drama with 30 musical numbers.

Performances in the air-conditioned venue are Thursdays through Saturdays, July 24 through Aug. 2, at 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, July 27, at 3 p.m. Tickets are $22, $8 for students. Reservations are strongly recommended at boxoffice@heartwoodtheater.org or 563-1373.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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