Nantucket astronomer Maria Mitchell focuses on musical comedy funded by NEA grant


NANTUCKET – The White Heron Theater Company will develop a musical about 19th century Nantucket astronomer / scientist pioneer Maria Mitchell, a show that will be the cornerstone of its 10th anniversary season in 2022 before production in New York.

The ‘Miss Mitchell’ world premiere creation workshop will be funded in part by a $ 10,000 grant announced Wednesday by the National Foundation for the Arts.

The grant is one of three awarded to organizations in Cape Town and Islands out of 1,100 grants nationwide.

In an announcement regarding the grant, Lynne Bolton, artistic director of island company White Heron, expressed thanks for the federal support and said that with the next show scheduled in New York, it is “gratifying to be able to contribute a piece. from Nantucket on the national stage.

Renowned Nantucket astronomer Maria Mitchell will be the subject of a new musical being written for the White Heron Theater Company on the island.

About Miss Mitchell: The star of Nantucket history

She called the NEA grant one of the “milestones in the life of a theater that [validates] the company’s contribution to the national work of American theater. “

“Miss Mitchell” will tell the story of America’s first professional astronomer, who grew up in Nantucket in the early 1800s and was also a renowned librarian, naturalist and educator. In 1847, she gained international fame after discovering a comet (C / 1847 T1), known as “Miss Mitchell’s Comet”, on the roof of the Pacific National Bank on Main Street.

Mitchell, the second woman in the world to discover a comet, received a gold medal for this discovery from King Christian VIII of Denmark and became the first professor of astronomy at Vassar College in New York.

Honored with a doodle: Google pays tribute to Nantucket astronomer Maria Mitchell

Mitchell House sits next to the Vestal Street Observatory, both of which are part of the properties of the Maria Mitchell Association on Nantucket.

The Maria Mitchell Association of Nantucket was founded in 1902 to preserve her heritage and her birthplace. The association, based on Vestal Street, operates two observatories, a natural science museum, an aquarium and a research center.

The musical “Miss Mitchell” is written by Brooklyn writer Kristin Slaney, with music and lyrics by The Lobbyists (with Tommy Crawford and Alex Grubbs as lead artists). The Lobbyists are a group of artists from New York, influenced in part by folk and roots music.

“Half a band and a theater company, the actor-musician-songwriter hybrid artist group creates new music and innovative works of musical theater,” according to the group’s website.

“Miss Mitchell” will be developed in partnership with Almanack Arts Colony, a secluded 7-acre farm on Nantucket used as a retreat for emerging artists.

Watch, act, write, listen:6 Ways to Experience the Connected Arts on Cape Cod This Month

Crawford said the NEA grant will allow the creators of “Miss Mitchell” to “bring together the creative team to write and create new music, orchestrate and record songs, refine the book into a complete new draft, and share stories. excerpts with residents and other artists on Nantucket. . “

A portrait of a young astronomer Maria Mitchell peering through "The little Dolland" telescope which was painted in 1851 by Hermione Dassel.

“We are excited to be able to develop the project on Nantucket – the source of her inspiration, the birthplace of Maria Mitchell and a major executive in the musical,” he said in the White Heron announcement.

Other NEA grants for art projects in the region include $ 30,000 to The Yard dance collective in Chilmark and $ 20,000 to Atlantic Public Media Inc. in Woods Hole, which focuses on radio storytelling and as a podcast, including WCAI public radio.

Contact Kathi Scrizzi Driscoll at [email protected]. Follow on Twitter: @KathiSDCCT.


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