Most of us in the theater community know of Nancy Carlson Dodd. If you’ve met Nancy through her longtime connection with Fort Wayne theater — as an award winning actress, playwright — or as a teacher and mentor, newspaper writer, mortgage closer, or through church, then you have experienced the Nancy Carlson Dodd wit and humor.
It’s this distinguishing quality she has instilled into her original musical The Wedding Gift. I am honored to showcase the incredible talents of Nancy, Dori Erwin Collins, and Ryan Shirar who are the collaborative creators of this new musical. It’s a delightful and lovely comedy that I hope you will encourage all your friends and loved ones to come see.
Nancy and I go back several years, having met through mutual friends. She was the first winner of Civic’s playwriting contest in 2010 with her play The Ladies in Cabin 10 and again in 2013 with The Wedding Gift.
Originally conceived as a musical, she took the music out of The Wedding Gift so that she could enter the play in our competition. The Civic Theatre and I fell in love with the story and encouraged her to continue with her passion of playwriting.
Fast forward six years: Nancy put all the music back into the script and collaborated with her niece in Chicago, Dori Erwin Collins, on the music and lyrics. She and Dori invited me to attend their professional showcase of The Wedding Gift in Chicago where I heard the melodies and lyrics for the first time and was amazed at their artistic quality.
I then presented the concept of the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre producing this original musical to our artistic committee who makes our show selections. The committee embraced the idea and was thrilled to bring this new work to our community again, but now as a fully-produced musical with orchestra, props, scenery, costumes, lights, and choreography.
Dori and Nancy worked tirelessly to finalize the script with the music. Then, to put the final touches on their “baby,” the Civic Theatre helped them to secure underwriting from The Chapman Fund for the creation of the orchestration by New York composer Ryan Shirar.
The Civic Theatre’s production team, along with our choreographer Olivia Rang, music director Eunice Wadewitz, and myself, held lengthy meetings to design a show that met Nancy and Dori’s vision. All the pieces of this artistic puzzle came together and the picture became clear; it is now a living and breathing work of art, growing each day into something we are now proud to present and eager to share with everyone.
It has been exciting to be included in the development of Nancy’s original vision. With the support of Fort Wayne talent, each performance is a salute to Nancy, Dori, and Ryan’s accomplishments.