The Ghosts of Rowan Oak
(a musical)

(writing sample)  (return to plays)

Book by Michèle Raper Rittenhouse
Music by Robert Felstein
Lyrics by Michèle Raper Rittenhouse & Robert Felstein

Adapted from The Ghosts of Rowan Oak
William Faulkner’s Ghost Stories for Children
Recounted by Dean Faulkner Wells

Other music from traditional American ballads and folksongs.

Production History: 

First produced in a workshop through the Rutgers-NJIT Theatre Arts Program in conjunction with the Jim Wise Gift Foundation for musical Theatre. 
March 1-5, 2006
New Jersey Institute of Technology Campus
Director:  Bill Gile
Set Designer:  Dan Drew
Sound Designer:  Eric Johnson
Light Technician:  Raymond Gintner IV
Production was dedicated to Dr. John (Pat) Pattinson, former chair of the NCE/NJIT Humanities Department.

Story:

A group of performers are rehearsing and filming some of children ghost stories for a next day’s Faulkner Festival. These performers inadvertently evoke the spirit of the ghosts that haunt Rowan Oak, William Faulkner's home, and get trapped into reliving the Civil War love story that ends with a tragic death.  If they don't change the ending before the hour of the wolf, the darkness before dawn, none of them may live to see the next day.

Character Breakdown:

KATE – Actress/playwright.  Theatre graduate student.  Early to Mid 20’s.
RICHARD – Director/actor/law student.  Early to Mid 20’s.  (From N.J.)
JUDITH  Actress. Undergraduate freshman at Ole Miss. Late teens. (From NYC)
JOHN (MICHAEL) Actor, undergraduate senior at Ole Miss. Early 20’s.
SAM   Caretaker/grounds keeper of estate. Ageless.

 EXTENDED CAST BREAKDOWN:  [Note: can be performed with just five principals and two ensemble actors (7).  Extended casting is an alternative for schools and larger venues.]

         Time and Setting:

Early evening into dawn.  Spring. Present time.
Front yard of William Faulkner's estate, Rowan Oak in Oxford, Mississippi. Present.

            Two ways to approach the set:

In a simple form, just a bare stage with a ladder, four lightweight chairs, one cane rocking chair, large picture frame (human size) with mylar backing that rolls down, small table, three large trunks with costumes and props, (and optional, a cd player/tape recorder).

In a more elaborate situation; more set pieces can be added as needed.  More sophisticated lighting; gobos, mirror ball, strobe.  A cyc and scrim, magnolia and cedar trees and eventually a projection of Rowan Oak itself. 

 Act One:

ACTING ENSEMBLE  (3 men, 2 women) optional
2     PBS TECHIES (1 optional, 1 woman)

Act Two:

All cast become characters in ‘ghost-land.’
 

SONG BREAKDOWN:

  ACT ONE

The Ghosts of Rowan Oak

Sam

Yoknapatawpha County 

Ensemble

An American Idol

Rachael/John

Aunt Ruth

Kate (Silke)

The Hound

Chanel/Rose, Tamala/Amanda, John, Anthony

Judith

John (Rachael)

Dear Nephew

Kate

The Ghosts of Rowan Oak (reprise)

Kate

Finale One: (When Johnny Comes Marching Home, traditional)

Ensemble

 ACT TWO

Sweet Katherine O’Connelly McGraw

Colonel Sheegog/Men

True Lover’s Farewell (traditional)

Women

The Secrets of My Heart

Colonel Sheegog

How Old Are You, My Pretty Little Miss 

(traditional)

Michael/Judith

She is Just a Little Girl 

Katie Sheegog

The Firefly Ball

Judith/Michael, Chorus

He Will Come

Judith

I'm A Good Old Rebel  (traditional)

Colonel Sheegog

I Call To You

Judith

The Secrets of My Heart (reprise)

Katie/Michael/Judith

An American Idol (reprise)

Rachael/John

Yoknapatawpha County (reprise)

All