"Cast of Innocence" Brings Hundreds of Teens' Journal Entries to Life in New Musical One Day

News   "Cast of Innocence" Brings Hundreds of Teens' Journal Entries to Life in New Musical One Day As Michael Sottile (Inappropriate) collected real journal entries written by teens over several years, he found one thing in common: They all used the phrase "one day." The raw, scribbled material served as inspiration for the the pop-rock musical One Day, which writer and co-director Sottile and choreographer and co-director Ray Leeper bring to the New York stage.

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One Day follows the journey of eight teenagers as they face internal struggles and exhilarating triumphs, from drug abuse to sexual awakening and discovering their own truths. The story and its characters are directly inspired by the journal entries that Sottile collected as research. Following on from his earlier work, the cult-hit musical Inappropriate, Sottile continued to explore the realities of adolescence. Hundreds of teenagers sent him their journals or writings anonymously, only specifying their sex. Looking over the material, he says that he instinctively knew "there was a musical here."

"I collected so many journals anonymously. So many letters, so many stories, so many lyrics," he explains. "The commonality in all of this was that every single one of these journals or stories had 'one day' written in it. They were of various of interpretations but it was always, 'one day I want this…'; 'one day I want to be better at this…'; 'one day I want this for myself…' To me, that's music.

The cast of <i>One Day</i>
The cast of One Day Photo by Bob Degus

"One Day is a journey piece," continues Sottile. "It deals with all issues of teenage angst and hopes and dreams. It is heavy and in your face a little bit at times, but it's never preachy, it's never sentimental…ultimately it's inspiring." Using the innovating performance space, 3LD Art & Technology Center and with the aid of cutting-edge interactive projection design by Google Grant recipient Andrew Lazarow (Brooklynite), Sottile says that audiences can expect to be swept along for a unique journey. "We're incorporating all these technological nuances and it just adds a whole new element to this show," he says. "It's very today."

The writer and director also hopes that the musical will inspire parents to come along with their teens and gain a greater understanding of how to communicate with them. "When I was working with these kids, I found that so many of the parents were the ones who weren't seeing things clearly and implanting their ideals and their thoughts on their kids," says Sottile. "These people were lovely, but there needs to be a meeting in the middle somehow. Parents do not listen to teenagers." For choreographer and co-director Ray Leeper, it was important that the dance and movement in One Day retain the raw feeling and emotion portrayed in the real journal entries. "I am choreographing this piece so that it's going to look like it actually came out of teenagers' bodies… whether it's awkward, whether it's beautiful or a mixture of both," he says. "I want them to look like kids, I want them to have this raw feeling…I'm trying to keep the essence of that." Sottile agrees, adding, "There's beauty in the imperfections. There really is. "

The cast of <i>One Day</i>
The cast of One Day Photo by Bob Degus

It's not difficult to imagine the cast of One Day as adolescents because they already look very young, and many are. The ages range between 18 and 23, and according to Sottile "they're brand new, they're unseasoned." For Leeper, their youth brings a unique beauty and young, raw talent that is vital to the piece. "The journal entries are real and though it's been interpreted into a book, it needs to have that innocence," he says. "We have a cast of innocence basically." Both directors are quick to praise their young and talented cast. "They're the most giving and genuine cast I've ever worked with," says Sottile. Leeper nods along enthusiastically, saying, "You just want to hug them all."

One Day officially opened Feb. 19 at 3LD Art & Technology Center, located at 80 Greenwich St., New York. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit onedaythemusical.com.

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