|MINNEAPOLIS — As Jeremiah and Vanessa Gamble approached their 14th wedding anniversary this month, they did not do so thinking specifically about how to celebrate the special day. Instead, the theatre duo decided to write and produce a musical … about marriage.
The result is “’Til Death: A Marriage Musical,” which tells the story—both seriously and with humor—about two couples: one who is celebrating their 15th wedding anniversary and another couple who are newlyweds.
The local theater duo is best known for their productions, “My Name is Daniel,” “The Psalm King,” “A Misfit Christmas” and “Three Stories Tall.”
Typically, when Jeremiah sits down to write a new play, he spends a lot of time researching and reading, trying to gain perspective and background on issues and people. For “’Til Death: A Marriage Musical,” he and Vanessa went to counseling.
“We actually started going to marital counseling, and we kind of kicked off the whole creative journey by going to a four-day marriage getaway, retreat,” he said.
During the research for this new production, the process was more personal and revealing.
“For us, digging into these stories and telling stories and creating art … is kind of going inside yourself and saying, ‘God come with me and teach me something, show me something that I need to learn,’” he said. “This has kind of been a journey for us as a couple too. It’s time to tell this kind of a story. I think it will be good for us, and hopefully in what we discover it will be helpful for others as well.”
The play is partly based on elements of their own marriage, but it also touches on fictional aspects that hopefully will speak to other couples.
In speaking to this mix of fiction and fact, Jeremiah said: “It’s funny, the opening song, the opening line is ‘What you are about to see here is fact mixed with fiction.’ And then they say, ‘We’re professionals in marriage and the stage.’ The next line is ‘Because we’re actually married, you may see actual friction.’ The last line is ‘There is more drama here than just what’s on the page.’”
The Gambles are joined by other married couples on the play, including Nathan and Stephanie Cousins, who play the newlyweds; Michael Pearce Donley and Joy Donley, who arranged the music and directed; and Corey and Betsy Mills, who choreographed the play.
As with the couple’s previous productions, audiences will laugh as well as be challenged by what they see.
“I think they’ll laugh, and they’ll cry perhaps simultaneously,” Jeremiah said. “It’s fertile soil for laughter and tears. There is a lot to mine there. It seems with Theater for the Thirsty shows, we love the one-two punch of comedy and then the point following …”
ACTIONPOINT: Tickets for “’Til Death: A Marriage Musical” are $20 and can be purchased by visiting www.theaterforthethirsty.com or by calling (800) 838-3006. Shows run from Oct. 24 – 28 at the Open Window Theatre in Minneapolis.