Alice Bliss

Book by Karen Hartman, Music by Jenny Giering, Lyrics by Adam Gwon

Based on the novel by Laura Harrington 
Directed by Mark Brokaw

In partnership with Montalvo Arts Center, and its Lucas Artists Program

Wednesday, December 15, 2pm
Lucie Stern Theatre, Palo Alto

Saturday, December 18, 2pm
Sobrato Center for Nonprofits, Redwood Shores



About the play
How do you hold onto normal when life is anything but? Set in upstate New York during the Iraq War, this intimate, stunning, and heart-wrenching new musical tells the story of losing everything and living anyway; of a girl who hits rock bottom, finds her mom there, and begins to grow up. Full of humor, hope, grief, and sheer teenage joy, Alice Bliss presents a warm and compassionate exploration of an often-overlooked part of contemporary life through beautiful music and bold new storytelling.

Based on Laura Harrington's acclaimed novel, Alice Bliss won the 13th Annual Weston-Ghostlight New Musical Award.

Alice Bliss was commissioned by Playwrights Horizons and Stacey Mindich.

Alice Bliss was developed in part at a retreat at the Weston Playhouse Theatre Company, Weston, Vermont; the Orchard Project (, Ari Edelson, Artistic Director; Rhinebeck Writers Retreat and the Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals.

Alice Unwrapped was originally commissioned, developed, and presented by Premieres in New York City, Paulette Haupt, Artistic Director




Artist Bios

Jenny Giering (Music) Current projects include Alice Bliss commissioned by Playwrights Horizons and Stacey Mindich (2018 Weston Playhouse New Musical Award), and What We Leave Behind (co-written with Sean Barry, 2019 TheatreWorks Writer’s Retreat) for which she received a 2021 Barrington Stage Spark Grant. She has written numerous incidental scores including music for Silent Sky (TheaterWorks 2015) and Peter Pan & Wendy (Shakespeare Theater, 2019) (both by Lauren Gunderson), Gertrude and Claudius (Barrington Stage, 2019) by Mark Saint-Germain and many others. She is currently scoring Lauren Gunderson’s play Georgiana & Kitty, which is running at Marin Theater Company. When she’s not writing music, you can usually find her making French Macarons.





Adam Gwon (Lyrics) is a composer and lyricist whose musicals have been produced on six continents in more than half-a-dozen languages. Off-Broadway: Scotland, PA (Roundabout Theatre Company, Drama Desk nomination, NYT Critic’s Pick), Old Jews Telling Jokes (Westside Theatre, NYT Critic’s Pick), Ordinary Days (Roundabout Theatre Company; Keen Company revival, Drama League Award nomination). Regional: String (Village Theatre), Cake Off (Signature Theatre, Bucks County Playhouse), Cloudlands (South Coast Repertory), The Boy Detective Fails (Signature Theatre), Bernice Bobs Her Hair (Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma). His songs have been heard at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, and more, performed by such luminaries as Audra McDonald, Kelli O’Hara, and Brian d’Arcy James. Fellowships include MacDowell, Hermitage Artist Retreat, the O’Neill Music Theater Conference, and the Dramatists Guild.





Karen Hartman (Book) is a recent Guggenheim Fellow. The world premiere of a new musical, Rattlesnake Kate (score by Neyla Pekarek) premieres at Denver Theater Center in 2022. Good Faith: Four Chats about Race and the New Haven Fire Department premiered at Yale Repertory Theater in 2019, and three recent works – Roz and Ray (Edgerton New Play Prize), The Book of Joseph, and Project Dawn (NEA Art Works Grant, NNPN Rolling World Premiere) – had ten productions across the country and are published by Samuel French, Concord. She is developing Project Dawn for Population Media Center as a television series. Hartman’s prose has appeared in the New York Times and the Washington Post. A New Dramatists alumna and former Playwrights Center McKnight Fellow, Princeton Hodder Fellow, and Fulbright Scholar, Hartman holds an MFA from the Yale School of Drama and a BA from Yale University. She served as Senior Artist-in-Residence at University of Washington School of Drama for five years, and lives in Brooklyn with her family.




Mark Brokaw (Director) Broadway: Simon Stephen’s Heinsenberg, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Nicky Silver’s The Lyons, After Miss Julie, The Constant Wife, Reckless, Cry-Baby. New York premieres include works by Douglas Carter Beane (As Bees in Honey Drown), David Auburn, Lynda Barry (Good Times are Killing Me), Charles Busch, Julia Cho, Lisa Kron (2.5 Minute Ride), Kenneth Lonergan (This is Our Youth, Lobby Hero), Craig Lucas (The Dying Gaul), Nicky Silver, and Paula Vogel (How I Learned to Drive, Long Christmas Ride Home). New York work includes the Public, Playwrights Horizons, Vineyard, Manhattan Theatre Club, Second Stage, Roundabout, Signature, New Group, Atlantic and Encores!. Regional includes the Guthrie, Seattle Rep, Center Theatre Group, Yale Rep, La Jolla, Steppenwolf, Berkeley Rep, Sundance Theatre Lab, Kennedy Center Sondheim Celebration and the O’Neill Theatre Conference. He has directed at London’s Donmar Warehouse and Menier Chocolate Factory, Dublin’s Gate Theatre and the Sydney Opera House. He has received the Alan Schneider Award presented by TCG, a National Artists Residency Grant from TCG/Pew Charitable Trusts, and Obie, Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel awards. Mark was the artistic director of the Yale Institute for Music Theatre, and is an Artistic Associate of Roundabout Theatre.



About the Writers Retreat

Every year TheatreWorks hosts writers’ retreats to provide our family of artists the much-needed time, space, and resources to refine the next draft of their new play or musical. Since our founding in 1970, TheatreWorks has been committed to the creation of new works for the stage. In 2000, this commitment was both strengthened and formalized with the establishment of our New Works Initiative, which has now contributed to the development of scores of new plays and musicals, earning national recognition and acclaim for the company and our new works program.