An enchanting musical fairytale with an interdisciplinary twist is ready to make its premiere at the University of Louisville.
“The Golden Key,” an adaptation of a 19th century Scottish fairytale, is the result of a multifaceted collaboration between the School of Music and The College of Arts and Sciences. The world premiere is an all University of Louisville production. The entire cast hails from the School of Music, including faculty Emily Albrink and Chad Sloan, and students Olivia Andrew, Cameron Carnes and Emma Pinkly. The music is by Gabriel Evens, professor, pianist and composer in the School of Music, and the book and lyrics are by Jeffrey Skinner, professor in the creative arts program in the English department.
“The Golden Key” is a story for adults and children that explores what’s in our hearts and our innermost desires.
“It is something that anybody can identify with. It’s about getting what you truly want in this life,” Skinner said. “What does it mean to want something? Am I wanting the right things? All of those questions come into this play.”
Skinner and Evens have been working on the project for over a year, but the pair solidified their creative partnership with an earlier project about bugs. Evens wanted to compose an album that was all about insects.
“Instead of about house pets, I wanted to write about bugs. Just all different types of bugs,” Evens said. “The hard part, for me, I am not a natural lyricist. I sent an email to the English department and stated that I was looking for someone to collaborate with, to help me clear up my language and make the lyrics better.”
Skinner replied to the request and their partnership would set the foundation for the musical fairytale project. Following a successful collaboration about creepy crawlies, “The Golden Key” came to be when Skinner shared with Evens his desire to write a full musical rather than just lyrics.
“When we collaborated on the bug project, I discovered that I can write lyrics. It’s a different art than poetry,” Skinner said. “I looked for a project and found one, from a 19th century Scottish writer named George Macdonald, that was a favorite of C.S. Lewis.”
The music for the production has a modern feel on the nostalgia of past musicals.
“It’s not going to be the musical that you would expect from ‘Frozen’ or something like that,” Evens said. “It harkens back more to Julie Andrews like the ‘Sound of Music.’ The music is kind of a little bit of a throwback, although it feels modern.”
The premiere, at 7 p.m., Oct. 28 in Comstock Hall, is a non-choreographed read and sing through. It is free and open to the public, however there is limited seating due to COVID and online registration is required.