Jodi Picoult, Timothy Allen McDonald Musical Breathe Now Available to License via Music Theatre International | Playbill

Industry News Jodi Picoult, Timothy Allen McDonald Musical Breathe Now Available to License via Music Theatre International

The work follows five duos grappling with the effects of COVID-19.

Jodi Picoult

Breathe, a new musical conceived by Timothy Allen McDonald and novelist Jodi Picoult, has been released for licensing via Music Theatre International. The work explores five pairs of characters as they grapple with the effects of COVID-19, exploring such topics as parenting, social justice, and grief against the backdrop of a global pandemic.

The show—the third collaboration between McDonald and Picoult following Between the Lines and The Book Thief—is structured as five interlocking suites, each featuring a score by a different team of songwriters. That group includes Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich (Ever After), Rob Rokicki (The Lightning Thief) and Rebecca Murillo (Not Quite Extinct), Danuel Mertzlufft and Kate Leonard (Rataouille: The TikTok Musical), Doug Besterman (Little Did I Know) and Sharon Vaughn (Hats!), and Douglas Lyons and Ethan Pakchar (Five Points).

READ: Novelist-Turned-Librettist Jodi Picoult Talks About Collaboration, Hope, and Breathe

The work premiered in 2021 as streaming theatre via OVERTURE+, which also resulted in a cast album from Broadway Records. The premiere cast included Tony Award winners Kelli O'Hara (The King and I) and Brian Stokes Mitchell (Shuffle Along...), Broadway couples Patti Murin (Frozen) and Colin Donnell (Violet) and Matt Doyle (Company) and Max Clayton (Moulin Rouge!), Tony nominee Denée Benton (The Great Comet), Rubén J. Carbajal, Daniel Yearwood (Hamilton), T. Oliver Reid (Once on This Island), and Josh Davis (Beautiful). The full performance is now available on Audible.

"On March 20, 2020, after Tim had recovered from COVID-19, we began writing Breathe," shares Picoult in a statement. "We were driven by the need to chronicle the pandemic in real time, knowing that we needed to memorialize the lives lost and irrevocably changed. Because the theatre industry had shut down, we were determined to collaborate with five different songwriting teams, directors, music directors, and sets of actors, hoping to employ as many colleagues as we could. We workshopped, rehearsed, and recorded our musical in an empty theatre …all while sheltering in place and following the strictest CDC safety guidelines. When the Library of Congress asked to include Breathe in its COVID-19 Performing Arts Response Collection, we were honored and humbled to be recognized for a work that preserved that terrifying, terrible moment—and showed how we might begin to grow from its ashes. After all, isn’t that what art is for?"

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