‘Quilters’ is a musical by Molly Newman and Barbara Damashek, with music and lyrics by Barbara Damashek. The musical is based on the book ‘The Quilters: Women and Domestic Art’ by Patricia Cooper Baker and Norma Bradley Allen.
‘Quilters’ was inspired by the real-life diaries and letters of pioneer women in the American West. Stitched together in various patches or “blocks,” this colorful musical depicts women on the frontier.
“Women’s issues haven’t changed. They haven’t changed from the pioneer days. We set the play kind of in the 1860s, so it’s post Civil War. This play is so beautiful and such an amazing journey, but most theater buffs do not know about this play,” said David I.L. Poole the director of the show and founder of Collective Face.
This is Poole’s second time directing this play. He did it once back in 2001 and the play has not been performed in the Savannah area in nearly 20 years. For Poole, the chance to produce this show again was something he lept at.
“I said, if I ever do it again, if I ever got the chance to do it again, I would jump at it in a heartbeat. I absolutely love the show. It is right up my alley. It’s visually spectacular and it’s storytelling at its core,” said Poole.
‘Quilters’ is Collective Face’s first production in its 2022-23 season, which is centered around the premier ensemble’s season theme of “finding your home.” Through the main character and her six daughters, the audience is taken on a journey back in time to the great frontier.
Intricately woven are the stories of these women and how they face frontier life head on presenting the challenging, beautiful and devastating aspects of womanhood.
“Every song and story within the show is a quilt block. The main catalyst is this woman named Sarah McKenzie Bottom, and she’s making her legacy quote. Every block in the quilt are stories that she’s sharing on the stage of her daughters, her sisters, her aunts, any woman that’s been part of her life, even her friends,” said Poole.
In this show Poole pushes the immigrant experience more. He has also created a diverse cast for a show that is traditionally done primarily with seven white women that are musically inclined.
“I was trying to go for diversity within this package. It’s diverse in age because the youngest member ais, I believe, 16 to the eldest, which is a senior citizen. Then all these different ethnic types or ethnic groups are represented,” said Poole.
Headlining the cast of ‘Quilters’ is Andrea Verdis as Sarah, a pioneer woman and her “daughters” played by Cecilia Tran Arango, Courtney Grimes, Kim Limehouse, Eowyn Miller, Crystal Nichols and Taylor Rigsbee. Diane Houseman is the Musical Director and the show is choreographed by MiKeshia McPhaul. Ty Palmer is the Stage Manager.
“They brought their own experiences. They bring their own life experiences within it. The actors brought all this wonderful stuff to the table and with their cultural backgrounds, which is varying because, as I said, I was trying to go for diversity within this show,” said Poole.
The cast is diverse but so are the stories in the musical which touch a variety of topics that are still relevant in the present day.
“I wanted to talk about the immigrant experience and women’s topics that are still relatable today. They’re talking about childbirth. They’re talking about miscarriages. They’re talking about having a zillion children on the prairie, the weather elements, having no money and so much more. It’s about tragedy as well as joy and love,” said Poole.
The production, which kicks off the Collective Face 12th season, opens on Sept. 2, and performs at the Savannah Children’s Theatre. ‘Quilters’ will run Sept. 2-4 and Sept. 9-11. For more information, visit collectiveface.org or call (912) 232-0018.