‘Clean Slate: A World Premiere Musical’ comes to Rider

By Hannah Newman and Tristan E. M. Leach

FROM Feb. 24 to Feb. 26 “Clean Slate: A World Premiere Musical,” a co-production between Rider and Passage Theater was showcased in the Yvonne Theater.

With a book by David Lee White and music and lyrics by Kate Brennan, the musical tells the story of a group of teenagers who are no longer satisfied with their authority figures, and are sent to a rehabilitation camp that could potentially be haunted by former members of the camp who have mysteriously disappeared. 

“Clean Slate” is the second show in a trilogy. The first show is called “ALIEN8”, and has had several fully staged productions. Before COVID-19 hit the world, “Clean Slate” went into workshopping. The show was initially brought to Rider by C. Ryanne Domingues, a professor and artistic director for Passage Theater. Domingues conjured up the idea of a joint production that would teach students about the development and production of a brand new musical. 

The cast of "Clean Slate" search for the lost campers.
The cast of “Clean Slate” search for the lost campers. Peter G. Borg/ Rider University

Nicole Duffy, a junior musical theater major, played Dion in the musical, and discussed the process of creating and developing a show up until the minute before showtime. 

“It’s even originating this character at the show and like setting it in what it will be for perpetuity and there’s been a lot of changes. I mean, like we were still changing lines up until a few days before the show opened,” said Duffy. “More songs that were added. There were songs that were cut, there were songs that were flipped around and changed.”

Passage Theater is a professional local theater company who has been delivering entertainment for over thirty years.

Domingues said, A lot of our work has to do with social issues that our community members and our audience are familiar with. And like I said, we do all new work, so anywhere from the first to the fifth production.”

Senior theater performance major Benjamin Simonetty who is also an intern at Passage Theater said, “I think for me the purpose of the show is that it’s okay to be different from people and that you don’t necessarily have to love everyone, but showing empathy and caring about everyone is something that I think our society is forgetting. You don’t have to necessarily be personally invested in someone to show empathy towards them, so I think that’s what the show means to me.”

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