My heart is filled with joy and gratitude for all of the people who came together to bring our Nietzsche musical into reality — including the cast, the band, the creative team, the audience, the Fort Salem Theater, and the Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Council.
Please enjoy these photographs — taken by Kyle West, artistic and executive director of the Fort Salem Theater (fortsalem.com).
Our fabulous cast is supported by a trio of excellent musicians who lift us up to new heights! As I write these words, they are rehearsing in the next room — making magic.
With one week until showtime, we are thrilled to introduce music director and composer Geoffrey Gee on keyboard, Kai LaMothe (@kailamothe) playing bass, and Sam McVicker on drums.
Geoffrey Gee is a pianist, composer, sound designer, and graduate of Berklee College of Music. In 2015, he made his solo piano debut at Carnegie Hall in Weill Recital Hall. Gee was the music director and accompanist for LaMothe’s musical Happy If Happy When, and engineered and co-produced the cast album, for which he also played piano, bass, and synth parts. Gee is the lead in five CDs, including, I’ll Be There With You (2009). He composes music for theater productions, dance companies, filmmakers, and orchestras, including a 2020 commission for a piano concerto, written for the Sage City Symphony in Bennington, Vermont. He has played his original piano music across the U.S. and in 18 countries around the world. As a sound designer, Gee created the virtual instrument Plectrum, and serves as a consultant for several of the top electronic keyboard companies. www.geoffreygee.com
Kai LaMothe is entering his junior year at the Long Trail School in Dorset, Vermont, where he will be pursuing a full diploma in the International Baccalaureate Program, including a Higher Level course in music. Kai began his musical training on drums, playing in numerous bands and concerts, as well as on the cast album of the original musical Happy If Happy When. Guitar is now his primary instrument. When not making music, Kai is playing soccer or helping out on his family’s farm.
Sam McVicker is a Senior at Bard College studying Architecture and Philosophy. He’s been drumming on and off since high school, where he had Geoffrey as his music instructor. He is currently working on his senior thesis — a critique of cybernetic systems’ fragility and epistemic pessimism — when he’s not busy rock-climbing, skateboarding, or reading sci-fi.
These two shine as our young protagonists! Meet Leif and Sawyer!
Leif LaMothe Gee has been performing with his family since he was three years old. He has appeared in the family’s cabaret shows, and originated the role of Ted in Happy If Happy When. This June, Leif completed sixth grade at Long Trail School in Dorset, VT, receiving Achievement Awards in music, theater, and math. As he enters the seventh grade, he is looking forward to playing soccer, basketball, and ultimate frisbee. He loves reading and cats.
Sawyer Powers attends Long Trail School in Dorset, Vermont where she is an incoming junior. This fall, she will enter the Higher Level International Baccalaureate course in Music. She has previously appeared in Hello Dolly!, Bah Humbug! as well as the Lion King Junior. Sawyer has developed a love of all things music over the past couple years of her life. She is super grateful to get back into acting and participate in such a great show!
We next introduce two actors who are making this show possible by taking on an impressive SEVEN roles between them!
Dan Slavin (@danielpslavin) features as Bernhard Förster, a deeply anti-Semitic man and Elisabeth’s eventual husband; he also plays Fritz’s childhood friend Jakob Deussen and sings in our trio of soldiers. Mowgli Giannitti (@mowgli.satyrdagg) appears as Paul Rée, a Jewish intellectual and one of Nietzsche’s closest friends; he also plays childhood friend Carl von Gersdoff, Fritz’s later-life friend and editor Peter Gast, and is also in our soldier trio.
Dan Slavin is an actor, singer, and songwriter from Glens Falls, NY. He attended the University of Rochester where he performed with the Midnight Ramblers, and studied voice at the Eastman School of Music. Dan has performed all over the country doing a cappella, musical theatre, and occasionally improv comedy. Over the past few years, Dan has also discovered a passion for songwriting and his original music can be found on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, YouTube and more. Previous roles include Dave in The Full Monty, Hertz Klineman in Rock of Ages, Brocklehurst/Vicar in Jane Eyre, Lancelot in Spamalot, Shrek in Shrek the Musical, and Jean Valjean in Les Miserables. http://www.danielpslavin.com
Mowgli Giannitti is an active Singer, Composer, and Bassist, regularly performing in a variety of projects across the Northeast in a variety of styles including Opera, Jazz, Bluegrass/Old-Time, Rock, and more. Since graduating from Bennington College with a focus on composition, he has collaborated with award-winning artists such as Souleymane Badolo, Edmar Colon, David Montgomery, Bertram Lehmann, Kitty Brazelton and Maxine Linehan, in a range of projects. Currently, he is composing/fronting a gospel-inspired Jazz/Rock Opera, Satyrdagg, as well as singing and playing bass in Terrible Mountain String Band, The Reflexions, The Heavy Nettles, and performing the role of Alypius in Kitty Brazelton’s developing opera, The Art of Memory. Mowgli currently serves as music faculty and choir director at The Long Trail School, in Dorset VT.
Today we introduce a pair of formidable women: Franziska Nietzsche, Fritz’s mother, and Malwida von Meysenbug, an influential German feminist writer and scholar.
Franziska is played by Sue Caputo and Malwida is played by Kimerer LaMothe (@kimererlamothe, also our librettist/composer!).
Sue Caputo is thrilled to be back at Fort Salem Theater in Nietzsche!. Previous Fort Salem Theater credits (under the prior owners Jay and Lynne Kerr) include The Savanah Disputations, Women in my Life, Forever Plaid (dir/choreo), Getting my Act Together, Corn, Adirondack Awakening, Star-crossed, and Songs of War and Peace. Sue has worked professionally in many theaters in the Eastern Region including Capital Rep’s The Full Monty, M. Butterfly, James Joyce’s The Dead (choreo), Syncopation (choreo), Man of La Mancha (choreo), Boston Marriage (choreo), The Sisters Rosenweig (movement consultant), 33 Variations (movement consultant) and Gypsy (assist. choreographer), as well as various Next Act New Play staged readings including Gino Dilorio’s Crib (Lisa).
Kimerer LaMothe, PhD is the award-winning author of two musicals; six books on dance, philosophy, and religion, and over 100 blog posts for Psychology Today. With Gee, LaMothe has created and performed two solo dance concerts; seven cabaret-style variety shows; and a song cycle based on her fifth book, Why We Dance: A Philosophy of Bodily Becoming (Columbia University Press, 2015). Her musical Happy If Happy When premiered in 2017 at the Fort Salem Theater, and appeared three times in New York City in 2018: the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity (nominated for Outstanding Lyrics and Music); the New York New Works Theatre Festival, and in a 5-show run at the Gene Frankel Theatre. LaMothe earned her doctorate in religion from Harvard University, and has received fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the Harvard Center for the Study of World Religions, and two from the Lower Regional Adirondack Arts Council. www.kimererlamothe.com#nietzsche#nietzschethemusical#newmusical#comingsoon#fortsalem#worldpremiere#musicaltheater#composer
Make way for the next two cast members — playing the ultimate power couple — Michael Gallagher as the celebrated composer Richard Wagner, and Kyra Gee (@kyra.l.gee) as his influential wife, Cosima Wagner.
Richard and Cosima were close friends and mentors of the Nietzsche siblings until Fritz rejected their anti-Semitic, nationalistic ideologies.Michael takes on two additional roles as a war-weary soldier and as the disgruntled colonist Julius Klingbeil.
Kyra is also the director of our production!
Michael Gallagher has studied voice with Keith Kibler at Williams College for over a decade. He has been the music director of many musicals with the Dorset Players, Long Trail School, and Salem and Granville schools. Michael holds a degree in Music Composition from both Skidmore and Oberlin Colleges, in addition to a PhD in Molecular Biology from the University of Cincinnati. He has also attended three years of the Lehman Engel Music Theater Workshop in NY as a composer, and is currently in his seventeenth year of being the Music Director at Christ Our Savior Parish in Manchester, VT.
Kyra Gee is a rising senior at Yale University, double majoring in Theater Studies and Evolutionary Biology. She graduated from Granville High School in 2018, and lives with her family in Hebron. Kyra is an avid theatermaker, both on and off the stage. At Yale, she studies voice with Amy Justman, and has participated in shows such as Wakaresaseya (Director), Sweeney Todd (Assistant Director, Toby), Ajax in Iraq (Producer), Mary Jane (Mary Jane), American Idiot (Heather), and Radium Girls (Kathryn/Harriet). Previous show credits at Granville include The Sound of Music (Assistant Music Director, Maria), Little Women (Beth March), Into the Woods (Cinderella), and Peter Pan (Tinker Bell). Kyra has also performed with her family in regional and NYC productions of her parents’ original musical, Happy If Happy When (Eliza).
We next present Erin Kennedy playing the role of Lou Salomé, a free-thinking and fiercely independent intellectual—and the woman Nietzsche loved.
Erin is a NYC-based soprano whose classical training and contemporary interpretations make her equally at home in musical theater and opera. In 2020, she performed in the premiere of PIETÀ, a companion to Suor Angelica; she went on to sing Genovieffa in both operas this summer at the 2021 Narnia International Vocal Arts Festival in Narni, Italy. Erin recently graduated from Williams College, where she was a winner of the Berkshire Symphony Soloist competition and appeared as Adele (Die Fledermaus), Servilia (La Clemenza di Tito), and Rapunzel (Into the Woods). She teaches private voice and piano, and studies with Andrea DelGiudice. erinkennedysoprano.com
Next up in our cast introductions is a second member of the Nietzsche family — Fritz’s younger sister Elisabeth. Hannah Gruendemann plays this smart and determined woman who seizes the opportunity to shape Nietzsche’s legacy and achieve personal prestige through her alliances with the rising anti-Semitic German nationalist movement.
Hannah is a singer, actress, and composer based in New England. An alto who sings classical to contemporary, musical theater to chamber choir, she recently graduated from Williams College, where she performed musical theater roles such as Marya Dmitriyevna (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1912) and Mrs. Anderssen (A Little Night Music), and opera roles such as Sesto (La Clemenza di Tito), Marcellina (Le Nozze di Figaro), and Prince Orlofsky (Die Fledermaus). Her compositions have premiered at N.E.O. Voice Festival, I/O New Music Festival, and Williams College. Hannah is in the midst of composing a new musical.
We are so grateful that this thoughtful human will be taking on the rather daunting challenge of playing the title role of our musical. He brings to the part a raw emotional intensity that evokes the depths of this brilliant philosopher.
They do share the same birthday.
Jordan LaMothe hails from Hebron, New York, and has a long history of performing with his parents and siblings, including many shows on the Fort Salem stage. He is a graduate of Williams College, where he studied both voice and saxophone. Previous credits include Hank (Happy If, Happy When) and The Judge (Sweeney Todd). Jordan is currently self-employed as a master knifemaker, and the opportunity to perform such a fine work with such a talented cast is a welcome treat. @jordanlamotheblades.
Hebron residents Kimerer LaMothe and Geoffrey Gee will present a developmental reading of their brand new musical – Nietzsche! – on the MainStage of the Fort Salem Theater in Salem, NY, August 21 at 7 PM.
Nietzsche! The Musical traces the tangled, passionate relationships that shaped the life and legacy of one of the most influential philosophers in the western world: Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900). While many people are familiar with the name “Nietzsche,” few know about the two women who helped make him who he was: Lou Salomé, the woman he wanted as his wife, and his sister Elisabeth, who married an anti-Semitic Christian activist and moved to Paraguay to found a colony for the pure German race.
Nietzsche’s love for both of these women brought him face to face with challenges that threatened to destroy him. Yet time and again, he reached for a way to love life – all of it. His story of struggle and affirmation carries relevance for our time.
In writing Nietzsche!, Kimerer LaMothe, PhD (book, lyrics, melodies) draws on over thirty years of research into Nietzsche’s life and work. She is a dancer, philosopher, and award-winning author of six books, two musicals, and over 100 blog posts for Psychology Today. Her second book, Nietzsche’s Dancers (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), offers the only comprehensive analysis of dance imagery in Nietzsche’s writing. As LaMothe confirms, “The more I learn about Nietzsche, the more convinced I am that the best way to communicate the primary thrust of his life-affirming philosophy is through music and dance.”
Pianist and composer Geoffrey Gee, LaMothe’s longtime collaborator, has written an expressive, engaging score for this musical, featuring a range of styles from pop and rock to classical jazz. As Gee states, “Kimerer’s melodies and lyrics are inspiring, funny, poignant, and chock-full of meaning. My role is to build a musical world in which they can communicate directly into the hearts of the audience.”
In describing their collaboration, LaMothe explains: “It’s like magic. Geoffrey takes the melodies I sing into my iPhone and fleshes them out through his own musical sensibility, until it’s not clear where my work ends and his begins. Every song becomes a third thing – ours.”
The cast sparkles with talented performers from near and far, led by Jordan LaMothe as Nietzsche, Erin Kennedy as Lou Salomé, and Hannah Gruendemann as Elisabeth; and including Fort Salem Theater veteran Sue Caputo, and local artists Chris Giannitti, Michael Gallagher, and Dan Slavin.
Nietzsche! also features live musical accompaniment. Gee will lead a trio, with Sam McVicker from Dorset, VT on drums, Kai LaMothe on bass and guitar, and Gee on keyboards.
LaMothe affirms that this musical is for everyone: “If you know nothing about Nietzsche, his story will move you. If you know a little about Nietzsche, you’ll come away with a new perspective. If you know a lot about Nietzsche, please engage us in a long conversation about his work and its relevance for our time. Whoever you are, our hope is that you leave the show with a sense of what we find at the heart of his philosophy: a resounding love for life.
The reading will be performed one night only, and will be directed by Kyra Gee. A Question & Answer with the cast and creative team will follow immediately after the performance.
Tickets are free. Reservations are required. Unvaccinated audience members will be asked to wear masks.