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What's New

This is a note from Paul, composer of If the Creek Don't Rise and webmaster of this web site. As of August, 2015, some fifteen years after we started this project, our show has still not been staged. Interest has surged and wanted.

There is some danger of a reading in Kettering, Ohio, in January, 2016. If you're not on our mailing list and you'd like to be invited, please contact us and let us know, and we'll keep you updated.

In the meantime, several of the songs have been sung and well-received in various concert settings. And members of my family have been quite active and supportive of other people's theatre projects. As examples:

  • My sister Tess Hoffman wrote, costumed, produced, and directed a children's opera version of A Christmas Carol
  • I've had named speaking roles in several community theatre productions.
  • I've played bass for two musicals and banjo for one.
  • I've helped build and paint sets for several plays.
  • My oldest daughter has built sets for three plays, costumed four, and directed The Importance of Being Earnest, Macbeth, You Can't Take it With You, Ragtime, and Les Miserables.
  • My middle daughter has been a chorus member in several musicals, Titiania in Midsummer Night's Dream, Aunt Eller in Oklahoma, as well as an orchestra member and the Giant's Voice in Into the Woods. She has also been the stage manager for several other plays, including Suessical.
  • My youngest daughter has been a chorus member in about nine musicals and played Mrs. Crachit in A Christmas Carol and Auntie Em (and various other parts) in The Wizard of Oz.
  • My wife Shelia has costumed The Wizard of Oz, A Christmas Carol, 110 in the Shade, and The Boy Friend.

In other words, despite the lack of progress on this particular project, we have definitely kept active in the realm of community and high school musical theatre. Our youngest daughter should be out of school in a year, and I may be able to retire the year after that. So I've been thinking about ways to keep moving forward on this particular project (and a dozen others - let's be honest).

Yes, there have been setbacks. Here are a few of the most interesting:

  • That's a Great Idea - Can I Have It? - While I was first developing the play, I proposed it to a director active in a local civic theatre organization. He got all excited about the things' potential (especially with the tie-in to several Historical Society events he was involved with). He said, "Let me see what you've got - I have a friend who writes plays who would love to take this project over." Huh? Several other folks I approached also thought that it was a great idea that they needed to take over.

  • Musicals with Banjos are Never Effective - A number of potential directors or producers or civic theatre leaders I approached could not understand how you could put on a musical without an orchestra, or at least a sound track that sounded like an orchestra (Cabaret being the obvious exception, more or less). I tried comparing this production to "Smoke On the Mountain," a popular regional and dinner theatre production in which the perfomers play Folk and Bluegrass instruments, but that play wasn't on their radar so it didn't "count." If you didn't have a dozen folks in black earning union scale (and chewing up half of the average amateur theatre's budget) hiding just below the stage, it wasn't a musical.

  • Other People Were in Line for the Money First - When Ohio started planning its bicentennial celebration, we contacted the planners. They told us to contact the Ohio Arts Council. At first the Ohio Arts Council told us that someone in Cleveland had already promised to write a musical about the history of Ohio, so mine would be redundant. (Of course that's like saying Wicked and The Wiz were redundant because someone had already written a play about Oz.)

    Then a person who had long made a living producing his own historical plays became a decision-maker for the organization, and he refused even to return my phone messages or e-mails.

    When I turned back to the Bicentennial Commission, I learned that they had already allocated all of the money they had to spend. (They spent almost all of it on making 12 or 13 brass bells. Go figure.) There were going to be some festivities and festivals in Columbus, though. I asked if we could participate in those, at our expense, even? If necessary, we could stage the production on a flatbed. But as it turned out, most of the festivities and festivals in Columbus were cancelled, due to the recession. So I guess it pays to be first in line. Or have a lot of brass.

  • A Seven-Member Cast Is Way Too Small (But Eight is Enough) - I then contacted our local Arts Council, which was also suffering from the recession and didn't think they'd be able to stage a musical that summer (a 30-year tradition). I said, "Look, here's a play with a cast of seven that you could costume right out of the Council's costume closet, no orchestra, and I'd be willing to forego any fees if the director would be willing to help me workshop some of the dialog." (As I mentioned above - the songs work; we've proven that in several settings.)

    Part of the issue was that the fellow I talked to obviously didn't understand Folk music. There weren't enough key changes, bridges, dance breaks, etc., in the songs. But the big problem, as he saw it, was that the summer musicals always called on a huge cast, to get as many people involved as possible. Thirty-member choruses were not unheard of. He wanted BIG plays: Music Man, Hello Dolly, Annie, and so on. I pointed out that the Arts Council had hosted several summer musicals in the past that only had 5 - 8 members, but since they were produced by another company, those didn't "count" as examples.

    I suggested one alternative staging - have the "letters" that tell the story of various ancestors read by people in costume who are spotlighted off to one side - that would easily add another 15-25 members to the cast, and you could even involve them in the big numbers like "Creek Don't Rise," and "Carry the Flame" - come to think of it a row of people in various period costumes lining the front of the stage singing the latter anthem - the last song before the finale, could be about as impressive as "Can You Hear the People Sing?" No, the fellow said, that still wouldn't fit the need for a huge production. Fine, I let it go. And it wouldn't have bothered me as much, if that year, he hadn't finally settled on The Fantasticks, with its cast of eight! Thanks, guy, I can take a hint.

In the meantime, there have been several job changes, including three layoffs, putting three kids through college, and a raft of other things going on, so it's not hard to figure out why this particular project has "fallen through the cracks." As former Georgia first lady Betty Talmadge said (years before John Lennon or Johnny Depp), life is what happens when you're making other plans.

Nevertheless recent projects have got me more involved with music - especially acoustic music - than I've been for a while. And when I'm involved in a project I tend to write about it. So I've been adding articles to the "folk music" side of this site, and to several other sites as well. Several of the articles (such as the Intro to Music Theory articles) are mostly indicators of things to come. But we've found very few decent articles on most of the subjects we address or plan to address, so we feel that putting up even a "rough draft" of features we hope to flesh out later will be helpful to readers. Considering that a number of our articles have jumped from page 80 to page 2 of Google within a matter of days (based on organic hits alone, I promise), we must be guessing right.

We have plans for some other related resources that will tie the "folk music" side of the site even closer to the "play" side of the site, and hopefully help music teachers and students as well. But we won't say more until those are a little farther along.

In the meantime, I can't help thinking that this might be a good time to get the script out of mothballs and start planning some readings, if nothing else.

If you'd like to contribute to or participate in ANY aspect of what we're doing here, please get in touch.

Also, an information "kit" is available, which supplies a reading script and other resources in a "hard copy" for presentation to decision-makers.

Stay tuned; we have many more features planned, and we hope to have news about the play by summer.

Paul Race


Creek Don't Rise? is operating as a part of Breakthrough Communications?, the communication company started by writer and musician Paul Race in 1995. We are not a non-profit agency, although Paul and other individuals affiliated with Creek Don't Rise? have worked with non-profit regional educational, musical, and theatrical organizations for many years.

If you are interested in contributing content, asking questions, sponsoring a concert, or sponsoring a reading or production of our play, please contact us for more detailed information, for reading copies of the script, song demos, etc.

Paul Race playing a banjo. Click to go to Paul's music home page.Whatever else you get out of our pages, I hope you come away with some great ideas for "sharing the joy."

And please stay in touch!

    - Paul Race Click to see Paul's music home page Click to contact Paul through this page. Click to see Paul's music blog page Click to visit the Creek Don't Rise discussion forum. Click to learn about our Momma Don't Low Newsletter. Click to see Paul's music page on Facebook Click to see Paul's YouTube Channel.

All material, illustrations, and content of this web site is copyrighted ? 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006,
2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 by Paul D. Race. All rights reserved.
Creek Dont' Rise(tm) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising
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For questions, comments, suggestions, trouble reports, etc. about this page or this site, please contact us.

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