Winner of Best Music at 2018 Chicago Musical Theatre Festival Opens Nov. 1 at Stage 773
By Raymond Ward, The New 411
The new Chicago production team of Gosz & Fotos premiere their original musical TRU – A Musical for Mental Health, Nov. 1 through 24 at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. Winner of “Best Music” and “Best Choreography” at the 2018 Chicago Musical Theatre Festival, TRU takes the audience on a thought-provoking journey through the struggles and triumphs of living with mental illness. TRU’s book, music, and lyrics are by David Gosz and Leo Fotos; directed by Taylor Pasche with music direction by Eric Rehm. TRU runs Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with matinees on Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $35 and available at www.stage773.com/show/tru or by calling 773-327-5252.
TRU shines a light into the life of Truman, a man living with mental illness personified as a toxic relationship with the manipulative Her. New to the neighborhood, Isla is an artist seeking to rekindle her lost passion and overcome her anxieties. Their paths meet through a shared loss, and Truman and Isla are left to confront their personal struggles together. With the help of those around them, both set out in search of their guiding light.
TRU tells a story that is “lyrical, impactful and able to appeal to a larger audience,” said Kimberly Knake, Executive Director of The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Metro Suburban. Gosz & Fotos wrote the musical to be accessible, empathic, and illuminating as a means to fight against the stigma that surrounds mental illness.
“The music of TRU is a magical driver, both defining and articulating depth of character, transformation of character, and that deep searching and moiling that anticipates participation in being human,” said George Bailey, Ph.D., author, musician, community activist, and professor emeritus at Columbia College Chicago, “Like a painting, audiences may come away with varying responses as to what this drama is all about—this is as it should be.”
The cast of TRU includes Stephen “Blu” Allen (Truman Hayes), Meredith Kochan (Her), Shannon McEldowney (Isla Claire), Marssie Mencotti (Gail Baker), Marc Prince (Mark Hayes), Elyssa Treviño (Burton), Taylor Dalton (Cellist), Ian Maryfield (Guitarist) with Lydia Burke, Jennifer Mitchell, Desiree Gonzalez and Jack William Rodgers in the ensemble.
The production team includes Taylor Pasche, Director; Eric Rehm, Music Director; Diane Meo, Assistant Director; Ben Fallon, Lighting Designer; Corbin Paulino, Stage Manager; Aszkara Gilchrist, Assistant Stage Manager; Woongjin Oh, Scenic Designer/Props Coordinator; Hazel Clarke, Choreographer; Gaby Labotka, Violence and Intimacy Choreographer; Amanda Rabito, Costume Designer; Jessie Baldinger, Properties Designer / Assistant Scenic Designer, and Nick Peebles, Technical Director.
Gosz and Fotos are 23- and 24-year-old producers, writers, composers and lyricists of musical theatre from Chicago. Their original musical, TRU, was a semi-finalist for the 2017 New York Musical Festival, and premiered with a sold-out run at the 2018 Chicago Musical Theatre Festival where it took home 14 nominations and two wins for “Best Music” and “Best Choreography.” In 2017, the duo began working on their second major project, San, a musical telling the incredible life story of esteemed Mardi Gras designer Calvin San Nicholas.
Gosz & Fotos premiere their original musical TRU – A Musical for Mental Health, November 1 through 24 in the Thrust Space at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. TRU runs Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. Previews are Monday, October 28, Tuesday, October 29, and Wednesday, October 30 at 7 p.m. Preview tickets are $25 each, regular tickets are $35 each and available at www.stage773.com/show/tru or by calling 773-327-5252.