An “electric” story where tragedy and music come together for a melodic stage experience is what “Tess, A New Rock Opera” brings to its audience during the New York Musical Theatre Festival. Sisters Annie and Jenna Pasqua penned the score and libretto of the musical, which closes its run this evening.
The play was adapted from Thomas Hardy’s novel “Tess of the d’Ubervilles,” which Annie’s mother had given her. The story centers on an innocent young girl in the Victorian era whose poverty-stricken family counts on her to connect to a wealthy bloodline. Tess finds herself wrapped in a violent circle of secrets between two men, which leads to her demise.
“I read it, I told Jenna about it, and we got very excited about the story because she’s kind of an underdog and she fights for everything in life,” Annie says. “She never gives up and we were just very taken by her aura.”
Jenna, who began contributing to the development of the musical four years ago and portrays Tess onstage, says she “came on and said this should be a rock opera. It should fly on the wings of an electric guitar.”
Forty musical numbers in the show go by quickly with the beautifully dynamic and surprisingly catchy score. The simple set with lighted, moving pillars are arranged perfectly to give the illusion of a grandiose set. Simplicity goes a long way with this show.
When describing “Tess” as a whole, the pair called it “electric.” “The story, the tragedy, the irony, the faith and the band. It’s charged,” says Jenna.
If you go:‘Tess, A New Rock Opera’
The Theater at St. Clements
423 W. 46th St.