New Musical Based on Lancaster West Nickel Mines Shooting Developed in Philadelphia at Music Theatre Philly

-Courtesy of Bryan Buttler Media Relations, LLC

Music Theatre Philly, the region’s premiere, vibrant training ground for young artists in theatre and dance founded by professional Broadway performers and choreographers, is in the process of developing a world premiere musical based on the true story of the Nickel Mines Amish School shooting, which took place in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  BOUNDLESS, written by theatre artist Mary Fishburne, explores how two teenage girls from vastly different worlds discover that they must be fearless enough to ask the right questions and brave enough to hear the voice from within as it answers.  The production, which will feature Music Theatre Philly students from grades 5 through 12, will have a public presentation on Saturday, May 21 at 2PM and 7PM at The Arts Bank (601 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA)

“Music Theatre Philly is thrilled to present our first ever in-house developed musical, featuring the talent of our incredible students,” said Tim Popp, Music Theatre Philly’s Executive Director.  “We are so pleased to be working with Philadelphia-based theatre artist Mary Fishburne in developing BOUNDLESS, a moving story that shows how friendship and forgiveness can come from unexpected places.”

BOUNDLESS takes place ten years after the Nickel Mines Amish School tragedy, where five girls were shot execution style in a one-room schoolhouse in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  The King sisters are in their Rumspringa, the time when the Amish turn a blind eye to teenagers as they venture into the world before choosing to join the Amish faith for life. As the King sisters’ lives intersect with the world and its customs, Willa King forms a relationship with Sofia Robins, the daughter of the man who shot her sister. Their friendship surprises them both as they discover that they are more alike than different. The King sisters and Sofia Robins must all be fearless enough to ask the right questions and brave enough to hear the voice from within as it answers.

The subject matter and story for BOUNDLESS became clearer when Fishburne moved to the Philadelphia area in 2018. Captivated by the high stakes of the decision-making process of a young adult in the Amish community, Mary recognized the bravery necessary for anyone who is seeking to claim their own path in life. Additionally, she believes that now is a great time to tell stories that feature all of mankind’s alikeness versus differences. Lastly, when Mary first visited Amish country, she could still sense the impact of the 2006 Nickel Mines school shooting.  

“The story takes place ten years after this event, as the survivors still navigate forgiveness, joy, and forward movement,” notes Fishburne.  “The power of this theme is most strongly told by young voices. The story is cautious about optimism but fervent about hope. It is timid about certainty but adamant about inquisitions. It is mindful about courage but persistent about resilience.”

Fishburne holds a BA from Vanderbilt University and an MA from Temple University. She has worked throughout the country as an actor, singer, choreographer, musician, and now playwright/composer. Favorite credits include MY FAIR LADY at Virginia Stage Company, LUNGS with Fiasco Theatre’s Artistic Director Noah Brody, ONCE at the Arden here in Philly, and SOUTH PACIFIC at Charleston’s Dock Street Theatre. While Mary enjoyed working as a New York-based theatre artist, it wasn’t until she moved to Charleston, South Carolina where she then fell in love with regional theatre, theatre education, and the possibility of work/life balance. She co-founded the Educational Branch for Village Rep Company at Woolfe Street Playhouse and directed/musically directed/choreographed 2-3 shows a year for the advanced teenage group. This is where her dream to write a show for young adults began.

BOUNDLESS will feature talent from Music Theatre Philly’s signature training programs, which have been named “Best of Philly” by Philadelphia Magazine.  Youth performers will work together with professional Directors, Choreographers, Music Directors and Designers to produce the musical. Building on their knowledge of acting, singing and dancing, these young actors will experience an entire production process from auditions, rehearsals, and a performance.

BOUNDLESS will be performed at The Arts Bank for 2 performances only, May 21 at 2PM and 7PM.  That same weekend, Music Theatre Philly will present their youth production of 101 DALMATIANS: KIDS on May 22 at 12PM.  Tickets can be reserved at https://www.showtix4u.com/events/16007.

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