BACKSLIDE was produced in the 2017 Musical Cafe Spring Showcase at The Ashby Stage in Berkeley, CA. Farah Dinga directed a talented cast for this developmental showcase.
Two Act Musical
by Richard Jennings
Can new love survive tragedy?
BACKSLIDE is a very personal love story within an epic tragedy with lots of good singing. The story is built out from a historical event. Just as Tracey and Dave start to trust and love, the murder of Tracey’s pregnant best friend (Laci Peterson), by her cheating husband (Dave’s best friend) throws them into a dark world.
The original score could be called "Classic Pop". It may remind you of songs you heard on the radio in the 80’s. There are big numbers all around. It can be staged with eight or more actors/singers. Sets and costumes can be simple or elaborate.
BACKSLIDE is a life embracing story giving voice to emotions that run deep to the core of what is human.
Tracey and Dave are falling in love. Tracey is learning to trust, encouraged by her pregnant best friend, Laci, who’s husband, Scott, is Dave’s best friend. Dave is bothered by Scott’s apparent infidelity. As Tracey/Dave become a couple, Laci disappears. Both try to help find her. Scott appears cold and self centered, dominating Dave’s time. Tracey starts to feel betrayed by Dave’s loyalty to his friend. The bodies of Laci and her baby are found. Scott is arrested. Tracey tries to help the family. Dave tries to help her. Tracey is angry. Dave offers love which she finally accepts.
CAST OF CHARACTERS (minimum 8 Actors)
Tracey – Low Soprano-Mezzo - Late 20’s A lovely young woman. - Solid, likeable. Laci’s best friend since jr. high. Loyal.
Dave – Baritone -Late 20’s A likeable guy. Bridge building engineer. Scott’s friend since college. On Rugby team w/Scott he was the set up guy.
Mara - Soprano -Late 20’s Very smart and witty, sarcastic. Laci’s friend since early childhood.
Tommy – Tenor -Late 20’s Gay guy, very funny and perhaps the wisest of the bunch. Could cover Bob -bar Scene Picture taker at S&A Xmas Party
Laci – Soprano - Late 20’s The most likeable young woman imaginable. A great smile. Press
Scott – Tenor -Late 20’s A self-centered asshole. Can sell anything. Was the big scorer on Rugby team Laci’s
Mom - Alto - 40‘s/50’s A very nice lady, great personal strength.
Carol -bar Scene Press
Amber – Mezzo – Late 20’s A nice young woman with low self-esteem.
Linda – An intelligent, organized person. Press
CORE ORCHESTRA: 2 Keyboards, Guitar, Bass, Drums
SETTING - Various locations around the small town.
TIME - Late Fall, Winter and Spring. Early 2000‘s
Backslide is inspired by the real life Laci Peterson story of 2003. I remember when the story was unfolding, my mother-in-law, the esteemed psychologist, Dr. Margaret Singer, suggested that I write a dramatic treatment of these events. The more I thought about it, I liked the idea. As is my norm, I started with music. In a few days, I wrote a rough draft of one of the songs that’s in this showcase “Lacis’ Voice”. I got up my nerve and played it for a friend. As I ended singing, she was silent. I could see tears in her eyes as she composed herself and almost inaudibly croaked out… “It’s great!”
A few weeks later I attended the nationally televised memorial for Laci in Modesto. There, I saw her beloved friends, these 28 year old women. They spoke with dignity, charm and honesty about their loss. I knew right then that my story would be about them. I had personal experience to draw from. When I was 28, one of my closest friends committed suicide. Our tight knit group of friends came together to help the family and each other. We learned much about ourselves.
When the script, score and demo recordings were ready, I started sending Backslide out to theatres for production consideration. Theatre Works, in Mountain View, said it was one of the best script/socres they’d received. Playwright’s Horizons, in New York, said it was masterful. Both passed, citing the post 9-11 reality that their audiences were not in the mood for tragedies. Backslide sat on the shelf for several years. I asked dramaturge, Anne Nygren-Doherty to look at it. With her help, I shifted the story line to follow two of the friends, Tracey and Dave, asking can new love survive tragedy?
In May 2017, Musical Cafe presented a twenty minute adapted version of Backslide.