While California-based director Tim Nelson prepares a co-production of Brigadoon for its weekend at Fort Salem Theater July 2-4, working both in Westminster, California, at the Rose Center Theater, and at Fort Salem in Salem, the Fort's artistic director, Jay Kerr, has traveled to Vincennes, Indiana, to musical direct his score for the World Premiere of Alice of Old Vincennes: A Musical, at the Red Skelton Center for the Performing Arts.
Both Skelton and Alice resided in Vincennes, a small city in the southwestern corner of Indiana, on the banks of the Wabash River. Skelton caught the eye of comedian Ed Wynn when Wynn was at performing at the local vaudeville house, and was then and there encouraged to go to Hollywood and make his mark. Alice is a fictitious character created in the 1901 novel, Alice of Old Vincennes, by then-popular novelist Maurice Thompson, who also lived there.
The archetype of the Victorian concept of heroine, Alice Tarleton, the child of an old colonial family, is abducted and reared on the frontier by Gaspard Roussilon, a French trader with the Indians, at Vincennes in the Wabash country of Indiana. At the outbreak of the Revolution, she aids the campaign of George Rogers Clark, the story mainly concerned with his capture of Vincennes for the patriots (1779). Alice's love affair with aristocratic Lieutenant Beverley, one of Clark's officers, turns out happily when her real parentage is disclosed.
At the suggestion of Rick Holen, a performer with Kerr in Special Services in Vietnam, and then a professor at Vincennes University, Kerr was commissioned to provide a musical score in a project guided by the university musical theater department. Lyrics were written by Vincennes poet and university English professor, Dr. Laurel Smith, with a book by theater chair, Dr. James Spurrier.
The performance in Vincennes runs the weekend of June 25-27, and is billed a Concert Staged Reading, with a cast of fifteen portraying the thirty-some roles in the show. After this year's concert reading, the show will enjoy an annual full-scale pageant production during Indiana's tourist-heavy summers.