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PREVIEW: Well-Behaved Women Coming To… (Theatre Elision)

A poster riffing on Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s infamous quotation, showing “transgressive” women from different periods.

In 1976, the historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich wrote in an article, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” Ulrich’s commentary was double: on the one hand, the women condemned by the early Puritans of New England were excoriated in histories for their alleged misdeeds, while their “well-behaved” counterparts where written out wholesale from the pages of history books. It’s a dichotomy that says much about American society then and a bit more than desired about American society today. Be a woman and speak out, and you’re pushy. Ask for the same thing as your male counterpart, and you are demanding. Labor without complaint, and be asked to do even more poorly or uncompensated work.

Thus comes the song cycle Well-Behaved Women by Broadway music director Carmel Dean, herself a composer-lyricist of some fame. (Dean’s Off-Broadway debut, Renascence, was produced by the Transport Group, and won the 2018 Off-Broadway Alliance Award for Best New Musical.) Something akin to Songs from a New World in being more thematically than narratively driven, Well-Behaved Women explores the stories and inner thoughts of women ranging from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to, Harriet Tubman, from Frida Kahlo to Billie Jean King and Malala Yousafzai, to the Biblical Eve. What would they have sung if given voice through the medium of Broadway songs?

Well-Behaved Women debuted at Joe’s Pub (a famed performance space near Astor Place in New York City) on January 25, 2020. The premiere sold out in less than 48 hours, and an added performance soon after. Feelers to bring the show to the United Kingdom were shut down by the pandemic, but revived last fall with a well-received London performance. Next month, the show comes to Theatre Elision’s Elision Playhouse in Crystal, MN for a February 9-18 run.

Theatre Ellision’s production of Well-Behaved Women features a 7-part cast, with vocalists Serena Brook, Alexa Johnson, Bea Kelly, Kym Chambers Otto, Estefania Sedarski, Christine Wade, and Abigail Walker. Lindsay Fitzgerald directs, wtih music direction by pianist Harrison Wade and lighting design by Laina Grendle.

At a time when women‘s voices struggle to be heard, Carmel Dean imagined what famous women in history would say if given a microphone. Through the voices of Eve, Mary Magdalene, Cleopatra, Harriet Tubman and many more, we hear songs of courage, strength, rage and resilience.

This 90 minute concert is presented with no intermission.

Performance Dates

Thursday, February 9 @ 7:30
Friday, February 10 @ 7:30
Saturday, February 11 @ 7:30
Tuesday, February 14 @ 7:30
Thursday, February 16 @ 7:30 (Pay As You Wish)
Friday, February 17 @ 7:30
Saturday, February 18 @ 2:00

Saturday, February 18 @ 7:30

General Admission – $30; Neighbors/Seniors – $25; Students/Industry Colleagues – $20

The special “Galentine’s” performance on Tuesday, February 14 @ 7:30 PM $29 includes drink coupon, pre-show music & hors d’oeuvres starting at 6:30 PM.

Basil Considine