New Work in Progress: Alice By Heart

Next, we chatted with Jessica Chase, the Artistic Producer at NAMT member MCC Theater in New York, NY about the company’s world premiere of Alice by Heart, written by Steven Sater, Jessie Nelson and Duncan Sheik. Sheik is a Festival Alumnus for Noir (Fest ’15). Alice by Heart is set to open on January 30. 

MCC has a rich history of developing and producing new works—what is MCC’s history developing new musicals specifically?
MCC has produced Coraline, Carrie, Ride the Cyclone and now Alice by Heart! With the move to our new permanent home—the Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space on 52nd St and 10th Ave—we are excited to be able to expand production and development of new musicals.    

How will this new production of Alice by Heart fit into MCC’s overall commitment to new works development?
MCC doesn’t take a “one-size-fits-all” approach to developing new work—-we aim to tailor each process to the team’s specific needs while fulfilling our mission to provoke conversations with our audiences and community. It’s been exciting to work with the creative team to create a unique, rigorous plan to get everyone ready for production, while also being flexible and adaptable as we all continue to discover new things about the musical. 

How did Alice by Heart first find its way to MCC, and what work have you done with the writers to prepare for this upcoming world premiere?
Steven, Jessie and Duncan have been working on Alice by Heart for about nine years, and three years ago MCC put together a three-week workshop so they could explore what they had created out loud with actors and begin to discover how movement affected the world of the piece. Since then, we have been engaged with the creative team in conversations about how to assemble the best team of collaborators to shepherd the musical towards a full production. We put together a couple of closed readings and choreography workshops in the interim to give Steven, Jessie and Duncan the chance to work on the material. Additionally, we had the opportunity to work with New York Stage and Film this summer, who are experts at new play/musical development and gave the team time and space away from the city to really dive into the work and begin sharing it with audiences. We believe audience feedback is really invaluable when developing any new work—especially a musical. 

What are you most excited to share with your audiences, and what do you think they’ll take away from the production?
At a time when arts and literature are continuously undervalued, Alice by Heart is a reminder of the power of stories to help us make sense of our lives. We hope audiences walk away with a sense of hope and wonder. 

Why should folks put Alice By Heart on their “must see” list for the coming year?
Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater have created magic that you don’t want to miss. AND this cast is unreal. 

For more information about Alice By Heart, and to buy your tickets today, visit MCC Theater’s website.

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