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Experience Marianas!
A new musical with book, music, and lyrics by Rob Rokicki
Dramaturgy by SarahBeth Pfeifer

Synopsis

Experience Marianas is a wild rock musical adventure about one woman's journey to escape an oceanic cult. The piece is a high-octane, darkly comedic examination of systems of control and how we struggle to define our identities within them. The music is inspired by retro-flavored synths and New Wave rock

Set aboard a ship, the show immerses our audience into the Marianas Institute, an aquatic ‘healing center’ founded by failed actor, Dr. Davis Johnson. We are indoctrinated into the group in real-time.  "Informational sessions" start off completely plausible but get progressively wilder and more fantastical, complete with pyramid schemes, sex rituals, sea monsters, and eventually murder.

We begin shortly after Dr. "Daddy" Davis has died. Our heroine, SB, has been chosen to replace him as Navigator, however, her promotion comes at a great cost: in the coming days, she must make a violent "sacrifice" proving her devotion to the group. The cult's Elders are skeptical of her ability to lead but RB, an eager young recruit, declares her love and devotion to SB (though romantic relationships are forbidden).  SB struggles to maintain control, finding herself perpetuating the very cycle of abuse she joined Marianas to escape.  

Eventually, we learn that Dr. Davis, with his last breaths, demanded that SB kill RB and lead the group to their deaths in a "Final Dive" —awakening the Ancient Ones at the bottom of the ocean and triggering a cleansing apocalypse.  SB reaches a breaking point before she can put Daddy's dark plan into motion, but her awakening comes too late.  Daddy Davis put fail-safes in place, the cycle of control rolls on, and we watch as the members we've come to know over the course of the play joyfully jump overboard to their fate.  SB is left behind, and with newfound agency she has a choice: to break the cycle, or continue it.


Development History

Experience Marianas was developed with over two years of research and interviews involving cults. Songs were premiered at 54 Below in the fall of 2018. It was given an eight-week workshop presentation at Cap21/Molloy College in the spring of 2019, with direction by Sherri Eden Barber and musical direction by Macy Schmidt. A subsequent public concert presentation debuted at The Green Room 42 in NYC.



Character Breakdown

*7 (or more) Female Identifying actors of any ethnicity or race
*2 (or more) Male Identifying actors of any ethnicity or race

SB (late 20s-30’s); High Rock Belt. Recently named the new Navigator of the Marianas cult, previous “right fin” to Dr. Davis. She is a leader, an orator, a fighter, a survivor

RB (early 20’s) High Mix. A new recruit infatuated with SB. She is naive and hopeful. A former addict.

Young SB (teens to early 20’s) High Mix/Belt. SB's younger self as she's being indoctrinated into Marianas

Lala (40’s-60’s); High mix/belt; An Elder (all Elders were former members of the political dance troupe, Children Dance Volcano, they run the organization); She sacrificed her life’s savings to the group. She is easy to anger.

Joan (40’s-60’s) High mix/belt; An Elder; abandoned a child for Dr. Davis.

Purple (40’s to 60’s) High mix/belt; An Elder. A scholar; the ship’s captain; gave Dr. Davis her kidney. Misses the old days.

Dr. Edmond Davis “Daddy” Johnson (40s-60’s) Rock Bari-tenor. Organization founder, theologian, explorer, marine biologist, health expert, & capoeira master. A manipulative patriarch.

Marcos (late 20’s to 30’s) Rock Tenor. SB’s estranged brother, cares deeply about rescuing his sister

Other characters (to be played by cast or added ensemble)

Rivers Moon- Former Navigator & whistleblower on the cult
Diane Marconis- Faded Italian soap opera actress & Alga-Glow spokesperson
Dr. Cablebaum -a ridiculous pseudo-scientist
Popps Mcdoyle –manager of a seafood chain restaurant
TJ -loyal, not the brightest. Obsessed with dolphins.
BB -older, established, sage-like, dangerous
CV -easily tongue-tied, handles tech for presentations
Sister –sibling on the outside to CV
SB’s Mother
Alga-Glow Talking Heads

Band: keyboards, bass, drums, electric guitar

Runtime: approx. 90 Minutes