Drawing back the curtain to witness the woman behind the legend, MARIAN examines the personal side of a shy yet determined singer whose devotion to music led her to become an international civil rights icon.
Born to a working class family in South Philadelphia, Marian Anderson fell passionately in love with classical music at a time when operas were predominantly white.
An exceptionally versatile contralto with a three-octave vocal range, she sang in six languages and was embraced as musical royalty in Europe. But when she returned to the segregated United States in 1939, she was shut out of a concert hall in Washington, D.C. due to racial prejudice.
When Ms. Anderson suddenly found herself caught in the cross hairs of a national controversy and a personal crisis, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and many others advocated for her, organizing an unprecedented, racially integrated concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Overwhelmed by anxiety, Ms. Anderson nevertheless performed for an audience of 75,000—becoming a forerunner to the Civil Rights Movement.
Liquid Theatre Collective is proud to have obtained exclusive stage rights to Marian Anderson's Archival Estate to support the development of our musical. Our progress to date includes a recent inspiring and supportive visit with Ms. Anderson’s executor; an upcoming article in Philadelphia Magazine commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Lincoln Memorial concert; a completed rough draft of the first act; improvisational work with actors on scenes from the script; the writing of several songs; and the recording of the ballad GOD ONLY KNOWS.