And Andover music teacher is ramping up production of what she’s calling her “musical memoir,” with auditions slated for January and four performances scheduled in March and April at the Creative Co-Op in Topsfield.
Lauren Dooley Sprague began work on “Parts of Me” in 2016 and finished the script and score with her writing partner and Creative Co-Op co-owner Amy Gilvary during the pandemic. The project is based on Sprague’s effort to address childhood trauma that caused depression and anxiety with the Internal Family System model of therapy.
“Where a lot of therapies look outside of you for causes, the Internal Family System is looking inside of you,” Sprague said. “For me, it was incredibly helpful.”
Sprague and Gilvary are funding the production with a Kickstarter campaign, which had raised $3,001 as of Friday morning. “We did not write a musical about mental illness,” they wrote on the Kickstart page. “We wrote a musical about mental health — on achieving it and maintaining it.”
Sprague, who has a daughter who is a senior at Andover High School and a son in seventh grade at Doherty Middle School with her husband, is a music teacher at Temple Preschool in Andover. The idea for “Parts Of Me” came when she performed “Backup Singer,” a song she wrote about her depression and therapy, at This Is My Brave Boston 2016. This Is My Brave is a nonprofit organization that uses the performing arts to end stigma surrounding mental illness and addiction.
“Backup Singer” emerged from her work in therapy.
“I was having tons of negative self thoughts,” she said. “I needed to tell those voices to shut up so I could think straight…I needed to listen to all those voices, listen to them and hear them out, but also be able to set boundaries and tell them to stop.”
The song was a hit when she performed it at This Is My Brave Boston, and Sprague took the suggestions from other performers to turn it into a musical. She dove into the project but eventually had to put it aside. You can listen to songs from the musical.
“It got hard,” she said. “Then the pandemic came and I realized it was my opportunity to finish this musical.”
Sprague and Gilvary fleshed out the script after a table read on Zoom in March. There are five roles in the production, with Sprague playing herself. The writing duo has scheduled auditions for the other four parts for 7:30 p.m. on January 17 and 18 at the Creative Co-Op.
Main photo: Lauren Dooley Sprague (left) and Amy Gilvary (Mike Pantanella/Kickstarter)