From an original story by Noonan, Learning How to Drown is a multi-generational love story inspired by the Irish myth of the Selkies — seal people who can shed their skin and become human.
A hurricane hits NYC, leaving long-time couple Emma and John stranded together in Emma’s apartment for the weekend. John proposes, but when Emma turns him down, their weekend takes an unexpected turn as Emma takes John into the story of her grandparents’ love affair. Suddenly, Emma’s apartment becomes the coast of Ireland, where the lives of a sailor named Aidan and a Selkie named Clare collided 70 years before. Shifting between the present, Emma’s memory, and the love story that has forever shaped her family, Learning How to Drown asks us: just how powerful are the stories we live by? And how far would you go for love?
Book & Lyrics by Patricia Noonan
Music & Lyrics by Amanda Jacobs
Developmental Workshop at Boston College
The LEARNING HOW TO DROWN team will be heading to Boston College for a developmental workshop directed by Igor Goldin with performances February 17-21, 2016.
Johnny Mercer Writers' Colony at Goodspeed
The LEARNING HOW TO DROWN team will be heading to the Johnny Mercer Writers' Colony at Goodspeed starting January 19th, 2015.
LEARNING HOW TO DROWN will be featured in The PiTCH, a new musical series presented at the Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival on August 28th - 30th, 2014.
A reading of LEARNING HOW TO DROWN will be presented at Pearl Studios May 29th and 30th. Click here to view the Broadway World article.
2011: It’s the end of summer in New York City.
Emma and John are giddy. A brewing hurricane has left them “stranded” together in Emma’s apartment – work-free – for the weekend. It’s a blast…until John proposes.
When Emma turns him down, their weekend takes an unexpected turn as Emma takes John into the story of her grandparents’ love affair. Suddenly, Emma’s apartment becomes the coast of Ireland, where the lives of a sailor named Aidan and a Selkie named Clare collided 70 years before.
When Aidan discovers that the Selkies he’s heard of, these seal people who can shed their skin and become human, are much more than just a story, the resulting adventure leads to events that shape his granddaughter’s life for good.
Shifting between modern day NYC, Emma’s memories, and the Irish love story that has forever shaped Emma’s family, Learning How to Drown is a four actor, one set musical about the power of the stories we live by.
How far would you go for love?
Featuring Donna Lynne Champlin, Molly Ranson, Brandon Andrus and Mia Sinclair Jenness, with Ian Weinberger on piano.
Lullaby (Lori, Clare, Aidan, Young Lori)*
Selkie Blood (Lori)*
Write My Own Story (Clare, Aidan)*
Selkie of the Skies (Aidan, Clare)*
Go Raibh Maith Agat (Preprise) (Young Emma)
Bonny Clare (Aidan)*
Terrible (Clare, Aidan)
You Sail On (Lori)
Go Raibh Maith Agat (Clare, Aidan, Young Lori)
Seventh Tear (Clare, Young Lori)*
I Can’t Hear Her Anymore (Young Lori, Aidan)
Return to the Sea (Clare, Aidan, Lori)
John’s Song (John)
*song on demo recording
Women (2), Men (1), Children (1)
Woman 1: Emma/Young Emma/Clare
EMMA (29) – A sexy, free-spirited, up-and-coming writer/filmmaker living in Manhattan in 2011. Although she prides herself on her independence and fearlessness, deep down she is afraid of her own vulnerability. (no singing)
YOUNG EMMA – Emma at ages 8, 11, and 14 in her memories. (brief, simple singing)
CLARE (ages 16-35) – Emma’s grandmother. A feisty, curious Selkie (a seal who can shed her skin and become human) with a sparkling wit. She begins her journey as a teenager eager to make her own way in the world and grows into a loving, grounded mother and wife. A person capable of deep love, loneliness, and sacrifice, she ultimately leaves her family to return to the sea. We see her at ages 16, 24, and 35. (Irish accent, Mezzo/Soprano with Celtic elements)
Woman 2: Lori
LORI (mid 40s) – Emma’s mother. A self-taught, world-traveled freelance photographer who places a high priority on her career. Her brain moves a mile a minute and, at times, she is larger than life. She has never truly gotten over her mother abandoning her as a child and is determined to never let another person hurt her (or Emma) that deeply. There is something haunted about her.
(Subtle Irish accent, Celtic Mezzo)
JOHN (29) – Emma’s boyfriend of four years. Though still at heart the creative musician Emma originally fell for, John is currently in law school. He is a bit of a romantic.
(Sings one brief song – singer/songwriter style)
AIDAN (ages 18-37) – Emma’s grandfather. A rugged, adventure-loving sailor living on the coast of County Clare. He begins his journey as a young man determined to explore the world and grows into a loving father and husband. He spirit is crushed when Clare leaves him. We see him at ages 18, 26, and 37. (Irish accent, Baritenor with Celtic elements)
Girl: Young Lori
YOUNG LORI (10) – a precocious, lively girl growing up on the coast of Ireland. She loves her mother and the stories of her Selkie past and is devastated when her mother returns to the sea.
(Irish accent, Soprano)
Patricia Noonan (Book & Lyrics)
Hailing from Philadelphia, PA, Patricia is one of the co-creators and writers of the #makeitfair Project. As a writer, she recently penned the piece "Happy Anniversary" for Ladybits and has seen her two award-winning plays The Storykeeper and Mermaid People produced by her alma mater Boston College where she was a member of the Presidential Scholars Program. As an actress, Patricia has been part of developing many new musicals from table reads to workshops to full productions. In NYC, she has created roles in Maury Yeston’s Death Takes a Holiday (Sophia), Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (Elizabeth Bennett), Signs of Life (Lorelei), Baby Case (Betty Gow) and regionally in Neurosis (Abby) and Little House on the Prairie at the Guthrie. She is also a regular with NYU’s Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program where she works with writers and composers on the development of new work.
Amanda Jacobs (Music & Lyrics)
A native of Macon, GA and graduate of Wesleyan College, Amanda is most recognized for her award-winning work on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, which swept the NYMF Awards in 2011 (including the coveted “Stage Entertainment Award” and “Most Promising Musical” award). Recently, the Jane Austen Society of North America named her their 2014 representative for their International Visitors Program to the UK. Her other collaborative works include LILY, DANIEL: The Musical and Truth in Beauty: A Shakespeare Sonnet Project. Amanda recently won the 2014 WORDS & MUSIC composition competition for her setting of Emily Dickinson’s poem “I would not paint a picture”. Other awards include: 1st Prize from the Long Island Arts Council (2009), the Marin Lutheran Church Competition (2009), Celebrating Grace (2009), NATS (2001), as well as international recognition for her “Mass for the Living” from the Sacred Arts Foundation (2010).
Website © Patricia Noonan and Amanda Jacobs, 2015. Web design by Cathryn Wake. Click here to return to top.