The Picher Project
The Picher Project is a new musical that explores the rise and destruction of the now-abandoned mining town, Picher, Oklahoma. The town that once was the world’s largest producer of lead and zinc became the EPA’s #1 Superfund site in 1983, deeming Picher the most toxic place in America. In 2008, a devastating tornado destroyed most of what was left and, as a result, Picher was officially dissolved in 2013 making it a ghost town. The Picher Project, based on interviews and stories from former citizens, covers the town’s 100-year history beginning when land was stolen from the Quapaw Nation and concluding with the last graduating class of Picher- Cardin High School.
In 2018, Quentin Madia, Alex Knezevic and Lauren Pelaia joined forces and began researching this extraordinary and unusual town. Lauren is humbled to animate this story through song as half of the Music and Lyrics team. Since 2018, The Picher Project trio has devoted so much of themselves to creating a show that represents the truth of Picher: the pride, the love and the determination of a town left in toxic ruins.
In March of 2019, The Picher Project team had the opportunity to travel to Picher. The Tar Creekkeeper, Rebecca Jim, organized a trip where they recorded oral histories from some of the few remaining elders of the Quapaw Nation, as well as former citizens of the town. Jim, the leading environmental activist of the Tar Creek region, told stories of the divisiveness that created an irrevocable chasm between nature and its people. Jim led the trio on her famous Toxic Tour, showing them the very buildings where the musical is set. This allowed Madia, Knezevic and Pelaia to gain first-hand experience of the cost of deliberate ignorance.
In April of 2019, The Picher Project premiered a 30-minute segment at Dixon Place to a sold-out crowd. Following their re-write, the team had a residency in Maine with the BarnArts Collective, preparing them for the debut concert version of The Picher Project at Feinstein's/54 Below in October of 2019. Currently, The Picher Project team is working on the next re-write of their script, expanding and improving upon the latest production of the show.
A Dance Narrative
Bridesmaids: A Dance Narrative explores the multi-faceted female experience through love, loss, connection and independence. The audience follows the lives of a bride and her five bridesmaids as they battle their personal truths in various stages of self-exploration. This breath-taking dance narrative features the dynamic choreography of the show's creator, Steven Blandino, and the daringly vulnerable music of Lauren Pelaia in an original take on the journey towards self-love.
In August of 2019, the show had a sold-out weekend of performances at Dixon Place in which Lauren was the singer/narrator. In February of 2020, Bridesmaids came to life for the second time featuring original songs and arrangements by Lauren. Currently, the Bridesmaids team is creating an entirely original score for the next production.