“The Singing Revolution: The Musical” is a story of the Estonian Independence movement that culminated with statehood and separation from the Soviet Union.
The musical details the Cold War and struggles by Estonians, who wanted freedom from the Soviet Union and found a peaceful means of carrying out their goals. Additionally, the play shows the power of song and peaceful protest.
The musical, written by Tony Spinosa, opened earlier this month and continues to Feb. 15 at the Broadwater Theatre in Hollywood; performances include Kelsey Lee Smith with production by Racquel Lehrman — both Santa Clarita residents.
The musical takes place in Tallinn, Estonia, and spans four decades. The musical follows Taavi Tamm, an Estonian student and the leader of the Estonian national resistance, as he navigates relationships with Russian supporters.
“When I first learned about Estonia’s ‘Singing Revolution,’ a light bulb went off in my head,” Spinosa said. “People literally singing as a shield against Soviet attacks is a story I knew I needed to tell.”
After the word was out that Spinosa was creating a musical about Estonia, natives of the country began to reach out and provide interviews. This unique insight allowed Spinosa to add credibility and represent the people of Estonia concerning their struggle.
The production of the musical showcases talents from behind the scenes and on the stage. Santa Clarita resident Lehrman, who has a bachelor of fine arts degree from New York University, also is a managing director of Theatre Planners, a theater production firm.
Lehrman saw the need to help with the production of plays and musicals and created the firm with the idea of helping to facilitate all the needs a director may need.
“I’ve been doing theater production almost 20 years, and on average, before COVID, I do about 10 to 15 shows a year,” Lehrman said.
As the producer and general manager, Lehrman works closely with the Spinosa on all aspects of production. Her responsibilities include creating a budget, finding a venue, scouting designers and marketing.
“Every piece of the puzzle runs through me, and my job is to get Spinosa’s vision up on that stage and facilitate a really great production,” Lehrman said.
Even with all the experience producing and managing theater productions, COVID-19 played a significant role in how theater could continue and added difficulties for Lehrman.
Safety precautions initiated by the production team included testing twice a week, mask-wearing and social distancing, making the production 10 times more difficult, according to Lehrman.
Lehrman wants people to be entertained by the musical production and walk away knowing more of the Estonian revolution and sharing what they learned with friends. She encourages her neighbors and friends in Santa Clarita to come to Hollywood and enjoy theater.
“I would love more people from Santa Clarita to come down into Los Angeles to come see theater and kind of get out of Santa Clarita,” Lehrman said. “Branch out and come into Hollywood, L.A., and support theater.”
Smith is part of the dance ensemble and has acted since she was 7 years old. She went to University of California, Los Angeles, gaining a degree in musical theater.
The new musical required her to contribute six weeks to rehearsal and improve her dancing skills. She credits the rehearsal process for helping her grow as a dancer and performer.
For Smith, the best part of the rehearsal process was building a bond with her colleagues and developing relationships with the cast on a personal level.
As rehearsals continued, Smith learned a lot about Estonia and its process for independence. She reflected on the peaceful protests conducted by the Estonians and represented in the musical.
“There’s this one part of the show where the Estonians form what’s called the Baltic chain, where it was 400 miles of people all holding hands and singing to protest the Soviet Union,” Smith said.
Smith is excited to see individuals participate in live theater and said many are excited to be a part of theater again.
“It’s an art form where people can go and have a cathartic experience and kind of escape whatever is stressing them out in life,” Smith said.
The musical is being performed at the Broadwater Theatre, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd. For more information, visit www.singingrevolutionthemusical.com.