'The 12' opens: Robert Schenkkan's Opening Night reflections

The 12 has been seven years in the making for its creative team, including composer Neil Berg (music and co-lyrics), writer Robert Schenkkan (book and co-lyrics) and director Robert Seyd. All that work culminates tonight with the opening of the world premiere musical by the DCPA Theatre Company.

Schenkkan took a moment this morning to reflect on his opening-night thoughts, and he agreed to share them with DCPA NewsCenter readers:

I thought writing plays was hard. And then I wrote a musical.

The 12 has been workshopped in Manhattan at the China Club (twice), B.B. King’s in Times Square, the Signature Theater, across the river at the Riverdale Performance Center, at St. Joe’s High School in New Jersey, and in Fort Lauderdale at the Broward Center. We were scheduled to have our premiere at the San Jose Rep and hired designers and begun casting when SJR suddenly announced they were bankrupt.

At that point I gave the script to DCPA Literary Manager Doug Langworthy. He showed it to (Producing Artistic Director) Kent Thompson, who was looking for “something unusual…” And here we are.

I have wrestled with my own ambivalence about this musical for many years mostly because it reflects my own profound spiritual ambivalence. Belief has always seemed to me to an intensely private issue, which is probably why I belong in the Groucho Marx category, “I don’t care to belong to any club that would have me as a member.”

And yet, here I’ve written a musical about it. If we have succeeded it’s because The 12 focuses on something everyone has shared at one time or another, the very human experience of a “Dark Night of the Soul” – that moment when the idea, movement, cause, or relationship into which you have put everything, fails completely. How do you go forward after that? There are no Big Miracles here. Just the small daily miracle where we rise up – flawed, flailing, failing – and determine, once again, to try to be more compassionate, a little braver about speaking up against injustice, and above all, more loving. That, it seems to me, is worth singing about.

See you at the Opening.


The 12: Video montage:

The 12: Ticket information
Through April 26
Stage Theatre
Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
Toll-free: 800-641-1222 | TTY: 303-893-9582
Groups of 10 or more: 303-446-4829
ASL interpreted, audio described and open-captioned performance: 1:30 p.m. April 26

Our previous coverage of The 12:
Neil Berg and the rockin’ roots of The 12
Video montage: Your first look at The 12
The 12: Three days that rocked the world
Watch short video samples of ‘The 12’ songs from the first sing-through
Video: Robert Schenkkan introduces The 12
The 12 opens rehearsals with a mandate to ‘dig deep’
Full casting announced for The 12
Final offering of Theatre Company season: Rock musical The 12

The cast of 'The 12.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.
The cast of ‘The 12,’ opening tonight at the DCPA. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.