Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Frank-N-Furter sings "Don't dream it. Be it."
Hedwig sings "Try and tear me down."
Miss Jessie has a different goal. Rather than defy the community that rejected her she seeks to subvert them from within. She ingratiates herself with the citizens of Splendora, Texas, teaching new fashions to the women and restoring the crumbling old buildings. There's a subtle revenge playing out. By pretending to conform she's actually making over the town in her image. Only one gossipy neighbor remembers when she left the town as Timothy but that's enough to put her attempts at re-invention in jeopardy.
Trans characters are still rare in musical theater and I was thrilled to learn about Miss Jessie. Novelist Edward Smith introduced her in 1978 in his novel Splendora. The story was adapted into a musical in 1995 where it premiered at the Bay Street Theatre in New York. The work was revised and revived in 1999.
New York Times review of the premiere
Variety review of the premiere
LA Times review of the Celebration Theatre production in 2006
Celebration Theatre Clip of a duet between Jessica and Timothy (one character portrayed by two actors).
Production rights available at Samuel French.