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A Celebration of Jeanine Tesori

Premiering Here on Friday, April 16, 7:30 pm

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A Celebration of Jeanine Tesori

directed by Joy Brooke Fairfield
music direction by Eileen Kuo

Song List

"Not for the Life of Me” from Thoroughly Modern Millie
“The Girl In 14G” from Thoroughly Modern Millie
“I Know It’s Today” from Shrek the Musical
“Happy Enough” from Soft Power
“Changing My Major to Joan” from Fun Home
“I Think I Got You Beat” from Shrek the Musical
“Forget About the Boy” from Thoroughly Modern Millie
“There is No God, Noah” from Caroline or Change 
“I Hate the Bus” from Caroline or Change 
“Gimme Gimme” from Thoroughly Modern Millie
“Days and Days” from Fun Home
“Lay Down Your Head” from Violet 
“Let it Shine” from Violet
“Flying Away” from Fun Home 

About the Author

Jeanine Tesori has written a diverse catalog for Broadway, opera, film, and television. The hallmarks of her work have been described as “close-to-the-surface emotion, structural rigor and rhythmic drive.” Her Broadway musicals include: Fun Home; Violet; Caroline, or Change; Shrek the Musical; Thoroughly Modern Millie; and most recently, Soft Power. She's written incidental music for Twelfth Night (LCT), John Guare’s A Free Man of Color (Delacorte), and Mother Courage (starring Meryl Streep). 

Tesori's operas include Blue (about police brutality, libretto by Tazewell Thompson); A Blizzard on Marblehead Neck (libretto by Tony Kushner); The Lion, The Unicorn and Me (libretto by J.D. McClatchy based on the book by Jeanette Winterson), and, most recently, Grounded (libretto by George Brant). She wrote the musical featured in the 2016 revival of Gilmore Girls and has also written special material for artists such as “The Girl in 14G” for Kristin Chenoweth and “Across the Way” for Jake Gyllenhal during the COVID lockdown.

Jeanine Tesori is the founding Artistic Director of a concert series at New York City Center called Encores! Off-Center. After producing four seasons of Off-Center concerts, she took one of those concerts, Sunday in the Park with George (starring Jake Gyllenhaal), to Broadway. She was the recording producer for Sunday as well as for the Original Cast Recordings of Violet; Caroline, or Change; Shrek the Musical; Twelfth Night; etc. In her twenties, Tesori worked in Nashville producing live studio sessions on CDs. 

A lecturer in music at Yale and on the faculty at Columbia University, Tesori is the founding Creative Director of the nonprofit A Broader Way, an arts empowerment program for young women. 

A Broader Way:


Other relevant links to check out:

We See You White American Theatre

Jubilee 2020

The Kilroys



Director’s Notes

In the first 50 years of the Tony Awards, women composers were nominated for Best Original Score only a handful of times, never winning. That tide began to turn in 1999 with Jeanine Tesori's first nomination. Over the next 20 years, Tesori earned five nominations and one win, and  worked to open doors for others who've been marginalized within the ranks of professional theatre. But the imbalances extend. As ongoing equity movements from within creative fields urge us to recognize, the pipelines for participation in the arts flow unevenly. Theatre-makers know that historically sedimented inequalities in our training and production processes limit the power of our performance offerings today. For our field to evolve, we must reckon with the past and chart new courses. 

Research shows that singing can release endorphins, lower cortisol levels, increase blood circulation, and bring more oxygen to the brain. In this time where sharing space physically has been limited, singing together (remotely) with this talented cast has helped sustain our collective well-being. We hope it contributes to yours too. Thanks for watching! Please feel free to sing along at home!

This production is dedicated to the people that Ms. Jeanine Tesori writes songs for: angry women, budding queers, low-wage workers, enlisted soldiers, social outcasts, the traumatized, the lonely, the resilient, the brave. May we all keep singing. 

About this Production

This production was planned last year as part of the McCoy Theatre’s commitment to an initiative called Jubilee 2020, a national programming vision supported by  American Theatre Magazine and Howlround Theatre Commons. Initiated in 2015 and taken up by Rhodes students in 2018, Jubilee 2020 invited theatre producers nationwide to commit to uplifting work created by women, BIPOC artists, people with disabilities, and other marginalized artists during the 2020–2021 season. While the unanticipated closure of our theatres during the pandemic shifted the Jubilee, the spirit of the initiative lives on, and the McCoy is happy to stand alongside hundreds of other arts organizations from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, OR, to The University of Memphis down the street. Our other digital production this year, Allegiance: A Creative Response (directed by Jazmin Miller and devised in collaboration with the cast), was also offered with these values in mind. Our commitment to thoughtful and inclusive programming extends beyond this one year. Please contact the McCoy if you wish to be included in ongoing conversations on this topic.

Artistic Staff

Dr. Joy Brooke Fairfield (she/they) is an Assistant Professor of Theatre and Performance. Here at Rhodes, Dr. Joy has directed shows like The Unencumbered and Hissifit and helped to produce a cross-collegiate festival of plays by Lynn Nottage. Elsewhere, they've served as director for Annie Sprinkle and Elizabeth Stephen’s Ecosexual Walking Tours (2013–17 USA/Europe) and as the developmental dramaturg for the recurring abolitionist performance ritual Absconded by Dragonfly/Robin LaVerne Wilson. Dr. Joy is an alumnx of Harvard College, New York University, Stanford University, and the Drama League Directors Project.

Eileen Kuo (Music Director) is an attorney from Boulder, Colorado. Previously, she music directed I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change and Hissifit at McCoy; additionally, she played bass in the pit orchestra of Violet. Some of her community theatre credits include music directing Lizzie (New Moon) and Nunsense (GCT). She has a chow-shepherd mix named Izzy.

Stage Management

Jaden Henderson (Assistant Stage Manager) is a junior business and theatre major from Lexington, South Carolina. Her previous McCoy onstage credit is Skeleton Crew. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and is also a part of the Bonner program at Rhodes. She loves spending time with her roommates and watching movies with them.

Laura Perkins (Stage Manager) holds an MFA in Theatre with an emphasis in costume design and makeup design from the University of Memphis, an MA in Communication Studies and Theatre from Arkansas State University, and a BFA in Theatre Design/Technology from Arkansas State University. Currently she is the costume shop manager at Rhodes College and this summer she will be the Head of Costuming and Wardrobe at the Texas Shakespeare Festival in Kilgore, Texas.

Production Staff

Keenan Minogue (Technical Director) is an award-winning theatre educator. He has designed props and sets for dozens of venues across the Midwest and Midsouth. Select design credits: Cat in the Hat for Hope Summer Repertory Theatre and Sorrows and Rejoicings at Oakton Community College. BFA, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater; MFA, University of Memphis. Member, USITT. Affiliate, SETC and KC-ACTF.

James Oliver (Music and Video Production) recently relocated to Manhattan to run the audio post-production division of Aspire Media which focuses on avant garde and electronic music. He also owns his own company, Triple I Audio, which focuses on audio post-production for film and animation. He is currently working on projects for Rhodes College, the Juilliard School, and various local artists in New York. 

Performance Company

Annabelle Babbitt (Days and Days) is a sophomore music major from Magnolia, Arkansas. Her previous McCoy on-stage credit is Hissifit. She also was in Firebringer with Rhodes Theatre Guild (RTG). Annabelle is a member of Contents Under Pressure (CUP) and the Rhodes Jazz Band, and works in the costume shop on campus. She loves her cat CC more than anything else.

Rachel Bates (Not for the Life of Me) is a sophomore biology major from Belton, Texas. This will be her first production with the McCoy Theatre. She is a member of Rhodes Singers, Chi Omega, Medical Spanish Club, and various other organizations on campus. She loves dancing, spending time with friends, and days on the lake.

Amirah Bauder (Happy Enough) is a first-year student from St. Louis, Missouri. This is her first McCoy production, but she’s been in other productions, including A Chorus Line, Chicago, and Shrek the Musical. Amirah enjoys dancing and has been trained in ballet, modern, tap, and jazz. Along with performing, Amirah loves spending time with friends, chocolate, and puppies.

Olivia Fox (I Know it’s Today) is a senior theatre and Russian studies double major from Memphis. Her McCoy on-stage credits include FirebringerHand to GodRose and the RimeI Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change; Voynich; Pool (no water); and Theophilis North. She was an ASM for Hissifit, and is McCoy’s RSAP. She is the President of RTG, Co-President of CUP, VP of Russian Club, and in AOII. Thanks for shaping me, McCoy. 

Emily Haas (Flying Away) is a junior music major from Highland Village, Texas. This is her first production with the McCoy Theatre. She is a member of Rhodes Singers, captain of the Rhodes College Crew Team, and works on campus with the Office of Student Activities.

Mya Hardee (Forget About the Boy) is a freshman from Plano, Texas. She has previously participated in the McCoy’s devised piece Allegiance and performed in 10 productions at her local community theatre prior to college. She is a member of RTG and the Catholic Student Association. She loves theatre and hanging out with friends and family.  

Rohan Kaza (I Think I Got You Beat) is a senior philosophy major/chemistry minor from Brentwood, Tennessee. His previous McCoy on-stage credits include Theophilus North, Fabulation--the Re-education of Undine, and Firebringer. When he’s not in the limelight, you can find him reading in a hammock, pumping iron at the gym, or polishing his bell collection. 

Marcus King has always been musically gifted. In 2013, he made his European debut in Norfolk, England, as Demetrius in the Yorke Trust Opera production of Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In 2014 he rejoined the company as Ubalde in Gluck’s Armide. He has been a young artist for the Utah Festival Opera as well as The Charlottesville Opera, formerly known as Ash Lawn Opera. For Opera Memphis, he has had many solo roles such as Mr. Gobineau in The Medium, Aeneas in Dido and Aeneas, Vernon in Blue Viola, Samuel in The Pirates of Penzance, Joe Harland in Later the Same Evening, and Erminio in The Triumph of Honor. This 2020-2021 season he will be company artist for Moon River Opera in Savannah, Georgia. He will also join the cast of The Magic Flute as Papageno for The Lighthouse Opera’s 2021-2022 season.

Eliza Lieberman (Changing My Major) is a senior theatre major from Charlotte, North Carolina. Her previous McCoy on-stage credits include I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change. She serves as co-president of CUP, the Rhodes College improv troupe. She loves comedy, her family, and making music.

Eliana Mabe (Flying Away; Forget About the Boy) is a sophomore theatre and biochemistry & molecular biology double major from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Her McCoy credits include performing in Hissifit, co-directing Firebringer, and assistant directing Allegiance. She serves as the secretary of Rhodes Theatre Guild and is a member of the Dramatists Guild. To keep up with all of that, she consumes an exorbitant amount of Dr. Pepper. 

Riley Marzola (I Know It’s Today) is a sophomore music major from Baltimore, Maryland. This is her first McCoy production, but in high school she was in shows such as Mary Poppins (Mary Poppins), Annie (Miss Hannigan), and All My Sons (Kate). She is a member of the Rhodes field hockey team, loves reading, writing, singing, Broadway, and Disney.

Annalee McConnell (Gimme Gimme) is a junior English and theatre major from Nashville. Her previous McCoy stage credits include I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change and Rose and the Rime. She also studied the role of Jemilla in RTG's production of Firebringer, which was cancelled a week before its premier due to COVID-19. On campus, she is the Vice President of RTG and a member of AOII. 

Caroline Mukerjee (Flying Away) is a first-year student from McLean, Virginia. She is currently pursuing pre-health and a theatre minor. This is her first McCoy on-stage credit. She is a member of Rhodes Singers (alto), enjoys reading, and is teaching herself how to play the guitar. 

Cooper Rudolph (There is No God, Noah) is a senior history major from Franklin, Tennessee. His previous McCoy on-stage credits include HelpI Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change; and Hissift. He served on tech for Shakespeare’s Women and has been active in the Memphis drag scene. His favorite quarantine activities are playing Stardew Valley and watching British crime dramas. 

Eva Spencer (Millie in Forget About the Boy) is a first-year potential health equity major from Cleveland Heights, Ohio. This is her first McCoy on-stage credit. She is a member of RUF and Tuesday Fellowship, women’s chorus, and a new member of CUP.

Raina Williams (I Hate the Bus) is a sophomore Performance major from Atlanta, Georgia. While she is currently a student at the University of Memphis, she performed in the McCoy Theatre’s production of Hissifit as Perseus in the fall of 2019 and is excited to be returning to Rhodes for this show. Currently, she is also working on a production of the playThe Revolutionists, opening next month.

Rebecca Winchester (I Know It’s Today) is a junior English major from Memphis. Their previous McCoy on-stage credits include I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change. She is the concert coordinator for the Rhodes Activities Board, a PA leader, a diplomat, a member of Lipstick on Your Collar, and other organizations on campus. She is thrilled to be in this production! 

Georgia Winkler (I Think I Got You Beat) is a sophomore music and economics double major from Brentwood, Tennessee. This is her first show with the McCoy Theatre. In high school, she was in Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Sound of Music, The Little Mermaid, and Anything Goes. She is a member of Rhodes Singers and enjoys reading and volunteering at a local cat rescue.  

Madeleine Wright (Girl in 14G) is a senior English literature major from Davidson, North Carolina. Previously at the McCoy, she appeared in Theophilus North. Her regional theatre credits include Shrek the Musical, Carrie, and On the Town. All of her spare time is devoted to working on her food Instagram (@munchies.with.mad).

Music Credits

“The Girl in 14G”
from the Broadway musical Thoroughly Modern Millie
Music by Jeanine Tesori, Lyrics by Dick Scanlan
Copyright © 2001 That’s Music to My Ears (ASCAP) and Thoroughly Modern Music Publishing Co. (ASCAP)
All rights reserved. Used by permission. 

“I Know It’s Today,” “I Think I Got you Beat” 
from the Broadway musical Shrek the Musical
Music by Jeanine Tesori, Lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire
Copyright © 2009 Originally produced on Broadway by DreamWorks Theatricals and Neal Street Productions
All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.

“Not for the Life of Me,” “Forget About the Boy,” “Gimme Gimme”
from the Broadway musical Thoroughly Modern Millie
Music by Jeanine Tesori, Lyrics by Dick Scanlan
Copyright © 2002 That’s Music to My Ears (ASCAP) and Thoroughly Modern Music Publishing Co. (ASCAP)
All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.

"Changing my Major," “Days and Days,” “Flying Away”
from the Broadway musical Fun Home
Music by Jeanine Tesori, Lyrics by Lisa Kron
Copyright © 2014 That’s Music to My Ears (ASCAP) and Kron-Tone Words for Singing (ASCAP)
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

“Happy Enough”
from the musical Soft Power
Music by Jeanine Tesori, Lyrics by David Henry Hwang
Copyright © 2020 That's Music to My Ears (ASCAP) and Fresh Off the Boat Music (ASCAP)
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

“There is No God, Noah,” “I Hate the Bus”
from the Broadway musical Caroline, or Change
Music by Jeanine Tesori, Lyrics by Tony Kushner 
Copyright © 2004 That's Music to My Ears (ASCAP) and Sibbie Songs (ASCAP)
All rights reserved. Used by permission

“Lay Down Your Head,” “Let It Sing"
from the musical Violet
Music by Jeanine Tesori, Lyrics by Brian Crawley
Copyright © 1998 That’s Music to My Ears (ASCAP) and Bayfield Music (BMI)
All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.

McCoy Theatre Faculty and Staff

Chair of Music and Theatre … Carole Blankenship
Managing Director … Kevin Collier
Associate Professor … Dave Mason
Assistant Professor … Joy Brooke Fairfield
Technical Director … Keenan Minogue
Adjunct Professor and Costume Shop Supervisor … Laura Perkins
Instructor … Bradley Harris
Student Associate for Theatre … Olivia Fox


The McCoy Theatre is a member of
The Association for Theatre in Higher Education
and Theatre Communications Group.