The Chandler Center for the Arts will present a new musical NORTH

The Chandler Center for the Arts has announced the premiere of NORTH, a dynamic new musical theater production conceived and created by writer and composer Ashli ​​St. Armant, in November 2022.

Set to a powerful score filled with jazz and historically black musical genres rooted in New Orleans, NORTH tells the story of Lawrence and his mother, Minnie, as they escape the Deep South and travel north to through the Underground Railroad, to seek freedom.

NORTH THE MUSICAL was co-sponsored by four performing arts centers across the United States: Lied Center in Lawrence, Kansas, Chandler Center for the Arts in Chandler Arizona, Segerstrom Center in Costa Mesa, California, and Playhouse Square in Cleveland, Ohio.

Set in the 1850s, NORTH is based on real-life accounts of slave escapes through the Underground Railroad network, as well as Mrs. St. Armant’s personal family history of overcoming slavery in Louisiana. In this beautifully crafted musical, NORTH showcases the full experience of those seeking freedom: optimism, bravery, playfulness, wonder, suspense and mystery.

On October 25, NORTH will premiere in Lawrence, Kansas, an important Underground Railroad landmark in the 1800s and one that figures prominently in history. The production then moves to Chandler, where it will premiere at the Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 N. Arizona Ave. Audiences attending the first performances of 2022 will be the first to see NORTH THE MUSICAL ahead of its 2023/24 tour, which will see its sights on Broadway.

The Chandler performances of NORTH THE MUSICAL will be November 4 at 7:00 p.m., November 5 at 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. at the Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 N. Arizona Ave.
Tickets go on sale June 20 at 10 a.m. at chandlercenter.org or by calling 480-782-2680. Tickets are $42 and $32 with $15 youth tickets. The musical is aimed at an intergenerational audience (from 10 years old).

Around the public performances, the Chandler Center for the Arts will host discussions and events related to the creation of the new musical. The production will also be part of the Chandler Center for the Arts’ educational programs with study guides, educator workshops, class visits and a student performance for area schools.

“North is a testament to the resourceful, enduring and multifaceted life of black people throughout our nation’s history,” St. Armant said. “In our own family line, I have learned that there are people who have survived the unimaginable in the most creative ways, and they deserve to have their stories told. I want my children to know that their ancestors were more than just a line item on a bill of sale.”

Ms. St. Armant created the original score to reflect the musical heritage of her New Orleans roots. “You can’t tell the story of the people of New Orleans without our music. This music is the glue that has held us together through the centuries.”

To complete the story, NORTH’s musical genres are equal parts jazz, musical theater and St. Armant’s own style. For inspiration, she drew on an array of musical heroes, including Nat King Cole, Mahalia Jackson, Fela Kuti and Stephen Sondheim. Songs include “Never”, “Git On Board”, “Oh What These Trees Have Seen”, “On The Run”, “Head Straight, Shoulders Back” and more.

The NORTH THE MUSICAL commission is part of the Chandler Center for the Arts’ efforts to give voice to new works and artists through its community engagement and audience development programs.

“Ashli ​​St. Armant has captured through the intersection of music, storytelling and story a brilliant and uplifting piece of musical theater. The Chandler Center for the Arts believes that new works that reflect the stories people of color are vitally important to people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds,” says Michelle Mac Lennan, Executive Director. “This play is particularly about the history of Black Americans during slavery, but also helps us connect with the characters as individuals with their own unique dreams, doubts and personalities.”

For more information about NORTH THE MUSICAL, visit chandlercenter.org/North.