There are some gifts we receive from the Universe that appear without warning or explanation. This is exactly what happened with our new musical, The Pledge.

In November 2017 I had read a magazine article about Tim Piazza, a college freshman who had died as a result of a fraternity hazing. The story gripped me right away. Not just because the death of this bright young man with his whole life ahead of him broke my heart, but because of the anger I felt about the kind of institutionalized violence that is occurring on college campuses all across our country. Most hazing incidents go unreported because young men feel shame over the abuse they have suffered. But the death count cannot be ignored. At least one hazing death has occurred in America every year since 1961.

After reading the magazine article about fraternity hazing, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. In the midst of a busy period of writing new songs and dialogue for our Shakespeare musical, Swagger, I got out of bed early one morning on December 3, went to my computer, and started writing a summary for a new musical I called The Pledge. In one feverish burst of creativity, I plotted the entire arc of the musical and came up with the song titles for every musical number. At the end of a few hours, I had my blueprint for what is now a two-hour musical. Every song I identified is in the show, just as I had plotted them out that early morning in December.

It was as close to an otherworldly, mystical event as almost anything else I’ve experienced. Very quickly, in the days that followed, I started writing the lyrics to the song. Then, I started writing the actual script, and the same powerful inspiration seemed to be guiding me.

Every day, I approached my computer, and the words just flowed. In about six weeks, I had written the first draft of the complete two-act musical. During that time, I felt in the throes of some sustained, creative process that bewildered and excited me. With each new morning I wondered if the flow would stop before I reached the end. But the well never ran dry and the inspiration never became blocked.

Unlike the writing of the summary, this period of writing wasn’t frenzied but almost contemplative, as if every day I could be transported into the world of this story and its characters and see them and hear them deep within my consciousness. In all my years of writing, I’ve never been gripped by such a creative flow that yielded such a complete work in so brief a period of time.

And that’s how our new musical, The Pledge, came to be.

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