Witches! the Musical

New musical based on the historical events of the 1692 Salem Witch Trials

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Witches! the Musical World Premiere
Original Program – Letter from the Writer/Composer
Conrad Askland
October 2012

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
– Ernest Hemingway

I have cried many tears while writing Witches! the Musical. Research began in September 2009 while living in Macau, China and the last song was completed September 2012 in Mount Vernon, Washington.

The bulk of the events portrayed in this musical are historically accurate. The very first opening lines of Ann Putnam Jr. are direct quotes from the historical record. There are many, many documented historical quotes integrated into the script. Some of the few liberties I have taken are time compression, the reassignment of some historical quotes to different characters, and adding another layer of elements that add to the story arch but do not break the historical record.

My major indulgence with Witches! is the expression of events in a wide variety of music styles. Sometimes a character is presented not as they were but rather how others saw them. The expression of “truth” changes through a progression of different viewpoints. There were many different visions of “truth” during the Salem Trials. And as you will see, I took great liberties with the expression of events. Sometimes with contemporary language and music styles, and sometimes with period pieces I composed roughly in the style of J.S. Bach and Lully.

The story of the Salem Witch Trials has been put to music many times in the past; sometimes as opera, sometimes as comedy, sometimes as contemporary rock. I have personally found all those productions either one dimensional and lacking in depth or simply boring. Witches! the Musical is my offering for a production that has depth, historical accuracy, entertainment value, an added layer of the Hero’s Journey intrigue and a large display of emotions.

My hope is that you will be offended and moved this evening; you will discuss the events with your friends and then research the historical events for yourself. When you return to watch Witches! a second time I think you will be shocked to realize that the bulk of the content really is true, with a little fun and intrigue added as only musical theater can do.

There is only one dedication that is appropriate for this work: To the memory of those who suffered at Salem in the year 1692.

Conrad Askland
Writer of Book, Music and Lyrics for Witches! the Musical 


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One Response to “Witches! the Musical Premiere – Letter from the Writer”

  1. Suzann McLamb says:

    From Day 1 in Macau, this has been an insightful, powerful and meaningful journey. Conrad’s talent and expertise in so many fields and prowess in so many genres is remarkable in a head-spinning way. The music is a bit of a miracle in how he has blended an eclectic mix of styles that shouldn’t work together, but do. He is nothing short of a genius in his artistry and technological knowledge. I truly believe the impact of this important piece of theatre will move audiences for years to come. Bravo Maestro. May the show go on as every thing you have ever dreamed it will be … and have delightful reprocussion for you and those involved as well. Break a leg!

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