January 7, 2010
For Immediate Release
For more information contact
Karen Massman VanAsdale
(816) 474-6785 ext. 230; (816) 665-8181 (cell)
World premiere musical, Mark Twain’s Life on the
Mississippi, performs at Coterie Jan. 26 – Feb. 28
NEA awards grant for Artistic Excellence to support the production
of this important work
A world premiere musical, Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi, performs at the Coterie Theatre in
Crown Center January 26 – February 28. Based on Twain’s autobiographical coming of age memoir,
this is the musical that shows how the famous author’s identity was forged with his years on the
Young Samuel Clemens leaves home to be a cub pilot on a Mississippi steamboat in 1858 and finds
himself learning about life. And death. And love. And writing! Book and lyrics are by Douglas M.
Parker with music by Denver Casado; directed by Coterie Artistic Director Jeff Church.
“Parker and Casado’s musical is a good fit for the Coterie, located in Missouri, Samuel Clemens’
home state,” said Coterie Artistic Director Jeff Church. “The musical’s subject matter includes young
Clemens learning to be a cub pilot on a Mississippi steamboat in 1858, based on Twain’s
autobiographical novel. The prototypes of several of Twain’s great characters will appear in this
production, which is ideal for the middle and high school portion of the Coterie’s audience who are
not exposed to many professional musicals.”
Life on the Mississippi/ page 2
Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi is only the second musical the Coterie has produced
specifically for preteen/young adult audiences. Recognizing the importance of this work, the
National Endowment for the Arts has awarded the Coterie a $35,000 grant for Artistic Excellence to
support this production and the theatre’s summer musical Lucky Duck. Both works are part of the
Coterie’s Lab for New Family Musicals.
In celebration of the NEA grant award, the Coterie is inviting audience members to climb aboard for
a personal tour of the elaborate steamboat set after Friday night performances February 5, 12, 19 and
Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi is the second production in the Coterie’s Preteen/Young
Adults Series. In addition to the NEA, funding is also provided in part by the Missouri Arts Council
(MAC) and the ArtsKC Fund.
THE CREATION OF LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI
New York based Parker and Casado have worked on Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi through
various workshops. First was the York Theatre Developmental Reading Series in 2008. That
summer, the show was selected by NAMT as one of its “Five Shows You Should Know,” which led
to a Goodspeed Opera House reading in 2009 for their Festival of New Artists and featured John
The show has progressed with each incarnation, and the Coterie premiere benefits from the excellent
developmental history. Parker and Casado are working with the director and cast the first week of
rehearsal adding new music and will be part of a week of preview performances in order to put their
final polish on the piece. Casado has arranged for a live trio of piano, violin and cello to accompany
a company of six expert Kansas City theatre professionals.
ABOUT THE COMPANY
The cast features Price Messick (Samuel Clemens), KC Comeaux (Henry Clemens), Logan Ernstthal
(Horace Bixby), Steven Eubank (Abner Reese), Matthew Rapport (Mason, Taylor) and Katie Karel
(Adele). Musicians are Daniel Doss (piano), Sascha Groschang (cello), Ziva Patt-Rappaport (violin).
Life on the Mississippi/ page 3
The artistic and production company includes Jeff Church (director), Daniel Doss (music director),
Anthony T. Edwards (music supervisor), Megan C. Gross (set designer), Georgianna Buchanan (costume
designer), Art Kent (light designer), David Kiehl (sound designer), Amy M. Abels Owen (stage manager),
Scott Hobart (technical director, master carpenter), Delinda Pushetonequa (properties), and Rachel May
Cain (production assistant and house manager).
The Coterie Theatre, now in its 31st Season and named “One of the Five Best Theaters for Young
Audiences in the U.S.” by TIME magazine, is located on level one of Crown Center Shops in Kansas City,
Mo. Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi performs January 26 – February 28. Performances are
Tuesdays – Sundays. For specific dates and times, visit www.coterietheatre.org.
Opening Night January 29 audiences are invited to a free post-performance reception with director
and cast members. Free question and answer sessions about the show and “how it’s done” will take
place after the 2 p.m. performances January 30 and 31. In addition, a Digital Guide featuring
background information about Mark Twain, behind-the-scenes interviews with the creators, director
and company members will be posted at www.coterietheatre.org.
Tickets are $15 for adults; $10 for all children, students and seniors age 60 and up; $9 for season ticket
holders. Discounts are available for groups of 20 or more. Tickets may be purchased online at
www.coterietheatre.org or by calling the Coterie box office (816) 474-6552 from 10 a.m. to 4 p. m.
Monday through Friday. TARGET Saturdays: Free ticket with purchase; restrictions apply; not available
January 29, Opening Night: FREE post-performance reception with director and Company.
January 30 and 31, FREE Q&A: FREE post-performance question and answer sessions with the
January 30, February 6, 13, 20 and 27, TARGET Saturdays: FREE ticket with purchase; FREE Life
on the Mississippi book per order. Restrictions apply; not available online.
February 5, 12, 19 and 26, Tour our steamboat set! Audience members receive a FREE personal tour
after the 7 p.m. performance.
February 13: Interpreted performance in American Sign Language
# # #
Life on the Mississippi/ page 4
NOTE: All student and professional reviewers and editors are invited along with one guest to
attend PRESS PERFORMANCES at 7 p.m. January 29. Contact Karen M. VanAsdale at
firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP or to reserve a different performance.
Photos are available upon request. A downloadable Digital Resource Guide with background
information about Mark Twain, backstage interviews and sound clips for this performance are
available at www.coterietheatre.org/lifeonthemississippi.aspx