Husband and wife Mark and Joanne Sutton-Smith's show is based on an inspirational true story of "an American family torn apart by slavery and then reunited through the daring collaboration of blacks and whites working the Underground Railroad."
The show received workshops in Philadelphia in recent years, and has gone through rewrites to strengthen and tighten it for the current reading. Joanne Sutton-Smith conceived the story, based on a true events that took place in Philadelphia in 1850 and 1855 (the authors have condensed the action to 1855). Mark Sutton-Smith wrote the score and lyrics and the pair share book credit.
"When I read it, I cried – it's that beautiful of a story," Thelen said. "What's more, it's got one of the best scores I've come across in years."
Thelen should know from scores. As producing associate and literary manager for Goodspeed, he spends a lot of time scouting, listening to and reading new musicals.
"At this point we're looking for a theatre to take us on the next step," Mark Sutton-Smith told Playbill On-Line. Fausto Pineda music directs Stand by the River, and the cast includes Daniel Beaty, Carey Brown, Dwayne Clark, Christine Clemmons, Markeisha Ensley, Darlene Bel Grayson, Todd Horman, Kevin Michael Kennedy, Emily Phenix, Rob Richardson, Jay Strauss, Lawrence E. Street, Geoff Sullivan, Todd Underwood and Franklin John Westbrooks.
Stand by the River will be presented at The Theatre at St. Clements, 423 W. 46th St., 3 PM Feb. 27 & 28 and 6 PM March 3. For reservations, call (212) 501 2094. For more information, visit www.standbytheriver.com .