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2013 - 2015

  • Gretchen Kelbaugh writes the one-act play, Orchids Can Be Destroyed, developed by both Theatre New Brunswick and Saint John Theatre Company.

  •  It runs for five nights at Saint John Theatre Company, NB, Canada.









2016 - 2018

  • Gretchen begins the first draft of the book and lyrics (the libretto), studying how to write musicals for much of that time (and memorizing what libretto means, as opposed to book, script, musical, etc).

  • Gretchen asks friend Theresa Patterson, a fine arts graduate in music and performance, with composing experience, to write the music.


  • Theresa's experience and strength lie primarily in composing ballads and lyric melodies, so Michael Doherty, accomplished composer and music director, suggests we team up with a musician who can add some power and edge to the music. We invite well-known Atlantic composer Debbie Adshade to share in music composition. Not one to resist a challenge, she accepts.




2019 - 2022

  • With a Creation Grant from artsnb and continued support from PARC, the Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre, we hire dramaturge Martha Irving to lead a professional workshop on the libretto.

  • With a Canada Council grant, we engage Michael Doherty as a music supervisor. With his years of experience as a composer and musical director on many projects, he helps us edit our songs to best serve the story. While COVID-19 restrictions impede our every move at collaboration, Deb and Theresa eventually hand over chord sheets and basement recordings so Mike Doherty can transcribe the songs to create a piano/vocal score.




  • With our fourth artsnb grant, we engage Michael Rubinoff, producer of the Canadian Broadway hit Come from Away, to mentor us in how to develop our musical further.

  • We invite local playwrights, actors and musicians from our community to read through the libretto and listen to the music.


Next Steps

  • find funding to host a series of three professional workshops on the music


  • partner with a theatre or theatre school to finish development

Development of libretto (book and lyrics) by Theatre New Brunswick,

New Voices, 2013.

Kirk Pennell films a rehearsal for a staged reading;

Lilian is played by Adrienne Fitch and Gert is played by Emily Bosse.

Theresa  prefers to compose without the pesky imposition of someone else's rhythm interfering with her artistry. So rather than hand her lyrics, Gretchen gives her 'proto-lyrics' to indicate the theme, plot and mood of song sections.

Then Gretchen rewrites the lyrics to fit Theresa's rhythm. This illustration shows her unsophisticated way of figuring out which beats are sung with a high note or rhythmic stress, so she knows where important syllables must go, a time-consuming but fun challenge.


Note that Theresa likes irreverent working titles. This is really the bridge to the song Crime to Love. Gretchen indulges her.

Deb's workstation/kitchen.

Don't let that coffee mug fool you.

The collaborators. Lots of laughs.

Deb is amused.... then sets us straight.

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