A new musical
Music: Aaron Jones
Book and Lyrics: Harley Erdman and Gina Kaufmann
The setting is Sayville College, a liberal arts college in a small town somewhere in the middle of America.
Donny is a fifth-generation legacy student whose family are major donors. A statue of his ancestor, Donald Jefferson Johns I, stands watch over the quad. Donny is also a charming, sensitive guy – a hipster artist who doesn’t own a cell phone and authentically tries to connect with people “in the moment.” His manipulations and seductions embroil Isabel, an iconoclastic art student who is also involved with a professor; Ann, a prelaw student who is also Donny’s steady, public girlfriend; Teresa, a waitress at a diner in town; and Cat-Eye, Donny’s friend and wingman. Donny’s deceit pushes these four characters to the brink of desperation, as they must figure out how to fight back against this charmer who has all the privileges of money, legacy, and history on his side.
Full of comedy and theatricality, Donny Johns uses the famous Don Juan legend to push the bounds of musical theater and examine burning issues on American campuses today, reframing the story to give agency and dimension to the women Donny exploits.
The music for Donny Johns is written for a small rock ensemble. Workshopped at the University of Massachusetts in November 2015, where it sold out its entire run, Donny Johns is currently in development for its professional premiere.
Photos from 2015 UMass workshop. Director: Gina Kaufmann