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Help fund new musical 'Scarlet'


Riverdale drama teacher launches Kickstarter to fund new musical

Michelle Horgen, a Portland resident and Riverdale drama teacher, has high hopes of heading into the recording studio in June to make a full-length demo album of her new musical, “Scarlet,” a musical retelling of “The Scarlet Letter,” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. by: SUBMITTED PHOTO: - Michelle Horgen has written 'Scarlet,' a musical based on Nathaniel Hawthorne's 'The Scarlet Letter.' She has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the project.

“I think most people have read the book but not since high school when it was required reading,” said Horgen. “Many people only remember a novel full of difficult vocabulary about a puritan woman with an A on her dress. That’s too bad, because it really is an amazing story. It really is the perfect story for a musical. Star-crossed lovers, guilt, revenge, atonement; these themes are timeless. And Hester Prynne is a strong female character who makes the brave decision to stand alone so her lover can go on serving the people. Despite being set almost 400 years ago, this is still a relevant story, for all of it could happen today. The human struggle is the same, no matter the century.”

With degrees in conducting and education, Horgen has been a high school teacher for 16 years and has been at Riverdale for the past eight. She was granted a leave of absence for this school year during which time she has finished writing “Scarlet.” She also began working out how the show might make its way to the stage.

“I am well aware that I am a complete unknown as a muscial theater writer/composer. It’s going to take something special for me to be noticed by the theater world, which is why I want to record a great demo album. If producers can hear a large cast of singers backed by full orchestrations, there is a much better chance they will take interest in the show.”

Horgen has assembled a cast who, combined, have performed in every professional theater and choral ensemble in town. Rebecca Teran will sing the role of Hester; she is a regular with Broadway Rose and Lakewood theaters. Leif Norby, who will play the scorned husband, has been featured at Artist Repertory Theater and Portland Center Stage.

“I am humbled by the level of talent who have agreed to do this,” said Horgen. “Not only are they great actors, but top-notch musicians as well. The fact that 24 people who work in theaters of this caliber and sing with groups like the Portland Opera Chorus to Capella Romana have agreed to do this project is a real testament to what a great story this is.”

Because the performers are professionals, Horgen feels it is important that they are paid for their work. To pay for their services and the fees associated with the recording, Horgen has launched a kickstarter campaign to raise $25,000.

“My hope is that the public will donate to the campaign, not just because they believe in me or the story, but because they want to support these performers as well,” she said.

For Horgen to receive the $25,000 she must raise the entire amount in pledges by May 13.

Pledges can be given online; go to Kickstarter.com and search for “Scarlet” or “Michelle Horgen.” The information is also available on Facebook at Scarlet the Musical and at scarletthemusical.com.