Family History

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The History of Family

Ever since the time I was seven to eight years old, I loved to listen to a story on a record entitled, "Orphan Arthur." I am still not sure what it was about that story that captivated my young mind, but all I new at the time was that I just had to listen to it every night after I was in bed.

Arthur, the main character in the story, had, as the narrator said, "Flaming red hair.” Perhaps the connection I felt to the character was that I also had red hair. Anyway, after all of these years I can still see the mental pictures of that story going through my mind—even as I write this article. And little did I know that some twenty-four years later the memory of that story would surface and inspire me to write a new story based on an orphan; not Arthur, or a single orphan, but a group of orphans with the main character named Michael Nelson.

I had two best friends as I was growing up. One boy, Michael Peterson, attended my church and another boy named Michael Taylor, lived across the street from my grandparents. The three of us had great times together and I thought that the name Michael would be a good name for the main character. I chose all of the other orphans names because I thought they fit well together.

So, now it was 1998, and as I said the memory of "Orphan Arthur" came to me, and I began to think about how I could put together a musical about orphans. I had no desire to re-invent "Annie" so I had to make sure that I didn't have any similarity with that musical. As a matter of fact, there aren't any "mean" characters in this musical at all. I began writing and the more I wrote the more inspired I became. The dialogue flowed extremely well and the songs were almost effortless. In the end, I wrote the entire musical in three weeks, including all of the songs and dialogue. During those three weeks it was as if I was driven to complete it. After it was finished, nothing happened. I tried two times to have it performed but something always happened to the show in its planning stages.

Six years later, it is now October of 2004. I had just started the Jackson Studio of Music Arts in Jackson and met, who would turn out to be a wonderful friend, Ann Holt. Once I got to know her, I gave her the original script of "Family" and asked her if she would look at it and let me know if she thought it would doable in Jackson. She looked at it, read it and said that it could be done. But then, she and I would work several shows together at JCC including, The Sound of Music; Lily, the Felon's Daughter; Little Mary Sunshine and Little Women. After Little Women ended, I asked her again about "Family" since it had been three and a half years, and she said she would look at it again. I'm glad she did because I did as well. It quickly became very evident to me that a significant amount of improvement had to be done to make the show the way it needed to be done.

So, in 2008, I re-wrote the entire musical, added three new songs, changed much of the dialogue, (because of flow and basically lack of mature writing when I first wrote it) added brand new scene change music, an overture, (which did not exist) an entr’acte, (which did not exist) and brand new bow music (which also did not exist). After Ann read the new script and heard the revised and new music, she told me that it was definitely much improved.

So, now we are in the planning stages of having the first production of "Family" performed.

Please stay tuned to the website and watch for all of the exciting news that is sure to be on its way!

Thanks for reading,

Stephen R. Murphy