The Believers: a musical tale of disillusionment

by Jessica Fogle

Overture 03:25
Someone 03:36
6 Rudderless 04:54
Maybe So 03:19
Hope 04:19


When I was younger, I went to a private school (Lawrence University / Conservatory of Music)...that lured me with their AMAZING "Create Your Own Major" Program. Also with an IDEA Fellowship, which funded a semester of arts study abroad (London). The catch with the create-your-own-major program is that you had to attend the school for TWO YEARS and THEN you could submit a proposal. All I wanted in the whole world was a B.A. in Songwriting. I'd won THREE Statewide songwriting awards (5th-7th grades), I knew who I was, despite being a hyper-intense A student across the board, all I wanted to be was a singer-songwriter. Since I was in Elementary School.

Well, I'm sure you know where I'm going with this...they rejected my proposal. I was heartbroken. Considered transferring to University of Wisconsin - Madison, where my brother and friend went. But that wasn't right either, wouldn't solve the problem. The reason they gave, despite my thorough proposal (including coursework in Psychology, Poetry, Philosophy, and Music - with detailed descriptions of each requirement), was that my current trajectory was more impressive (?!?) or made more sense (?!?)...

This sent me on a really weird life tangent, that cost about $200,000.

Basically, my current trajectory was a double major and a minor - B.A. in Music (piano performance emphasis) and B.A. in Theatre (dramatic literature emphasis), and a minor in English.

And honestly, maybe this is the first time I'm saying this, or even THINKING it...maybe this was all meant to be. Maybe I was supposed to write this musical. Maybe I was supposed to go to NYC for grad school in Musical Theatre Writing (made no sense years later, when I realized I didn't even love musicals - not like my peers, not enough to be in debt for 30 years for that 2 year grad program investment), which I only went to because...

Tongue-in-cheek, typical defiant fashion at authority, I was annoyed soon after being hurt...and decided that if I was going to do 2 majors and a minor, that I'd just do ONE project to fulfill ALL the senior projects. I'd write and direct a musical to satisfy the Theatre major / English minor, and I'd perform the original piano score to fulfill the Music major... so it was meant as a sort of F U. But also I got into it haha.

So I love this musical. It's flawed. It's not written by someone who loves ALL musicals, more that I loved certain campy / stylized small-cast shows like The Fantasticks and Stop the World I Want to Get Off...I'd music directed about 5 shows by the time I wrote this, and sort of paid tribute to my favorite silly bits and comedic stylings (of both writers AND directors/choreographers I'd loved)...I dunno. I'm glad I wrote it. I'm not glad one of my professors pushed me HARD to "not pass up" the opportunity to get my MFA in Musical Theatre, $200,000 and it was a new program (10 years old at the time) and it didn't lead to connections or career paths for most of us who went there. Nathan Tysen and a few others, I suppose (Rachel Sheinken, Carmel Dean...) it's cool to know these people who are working regularly in NYC now. And I went to school with them, we were all young and starry-eyed together. I got to find out that William Finn loved my music, and how much heart it had. And Michael John LaChiusa did NOT like my music, called it "too Disney." Which I learned was derogatory. I learned I end "on the 1" (scale degree) "too much" - and other annoying tidbits in my brain that hampered my writing for YEARS. I learned that if you are kind you'll be in demand and then when it comes time to pair people, the fussiest writers get to write solo projects while you are forced to collaborate on an idea you don't even love (made it work, but again, $200,000 ?!? I did love it in the end, but it was challenging to be sure both our visions came through) I learned that creative fields are very difficult if not near impossible to succeed in, and that being in school for something creative is a HUGE luxury.

Anyway, it's a weird moment in time...I lived there, and studied there, THROUGH 9/11 (that was the 1/2way point of my education). I pay for those two years, $475/month, every month since. Well except a couple years I deferred the loan because DEAR GOD how am I even paying it as a starving artist piano teacher singer songwriter with a few Patreon followers?!? This whole path is crazy. We are sold hope. Hope is another way of saying "probably a lie" or "longshot"...I don't know the solution. Like I said, if I'm honest, I love this musical. I like my weird credentials, I like that I have too many of them, and I don't even mind that I barely make much money because I'm still just playing catch up on the ridiculous number of projects and albums and musicals and stories and ideas and TedTalks and Ukulele Talks and Piano Feelings and Casio Truths (j/k I don't remember what those videos/podcasts are called haha!) I have so much work I'm behind no one asked me to do, work that's helping me feel more like myself, in this wild lottery world.

Basically, I've wanted to score this for a long time (sorry Kevin) - and when I realized that no matter how much I wanted to have it done, it wasn't my calling to be the one to do it, I have WAY too many callings...I decided this was the next best thing: PUT UP THE CAST RECORDING (lifted from a video, at the LU production). Someone can transcribe it someday? If they want? Or maybe I'll make karaoke tracks someday? I'd love to see this remounted...I might even do a staged reading next summer, with my friend David. I dunno.

Anyway, I hope all your dreams come true, and if not -which is most likely - I hope you can find meaning, or fun, or some sort of playful spirit - in sorting thru what matters to you, and pursuing / nurturing that, while letting the rest go.

xo Jessica


released December 11, 2019

written by Jessica Fogle


Jenn.....................a hopeful girl of 17
Mom (Jean) ........Jenn's outwardly calm mother
Dad (John)...........Jenn's neurotic father
Kailey...................Jenn's worldly-wise and domineering friend
Lisa......................Jenn's disillusioned and concerned friend
Jeremy Jordan,
James, Jeff,
Jonathan..............Jenn's significant others

the Insignificant Others (I.O.s)
-Abbie, etc (also plays Lone Scone-eater)
-Adam, etc (also plays Josh and Jay)
-Cari, etc. (also plays Lone Paper-reader)
-Chris, etc (also plays Justin and Lone Coffee-drinker)

**all four also play the roles of Jenn's non-descript Inner World figures

late adolescence

Jenn's world


before the fall

after the fall

The Believers was first workshopped and performed by the Racine Youth Players in Racine, WI, and then produced in full at Cloak Theater at Lawrence University, as an honors thesis project (receiving Cum Laude honors).

Thank you to all the people who performed and assisted in the creation and development of this work - including Kacey Costabile, Kevin McWilliams, Richard Hagopian, Michelle Gausche, Katie Sasse, Eden Kaiser, Joe Costabile, Sara Willing, Cynthia Schultz, Jordan Queen, Melanie Foster, Melody Squire, Stephanie Fogle (Bell), Phyllis Mount, Jen Reuter, Jacob Allen, Jacob Cox, Juliana Speiser, Becca Schultz, Kami Jo Radsek, Sam Lockhart, Brendan Jones, Dave Hallock, Anne Ingram, Becky Nawrocki, Beth Schneider (Ratajczak), Tyler Ratajczak, Emily Rohm, Ben Roney, John Enters, Tim Troy, Fred Gaines, Kathy Privatt, Atonement Lutheran, Racine Youth Players, Lawrence University Theatre Dept, and everyone who inspired these characters. Apologies if I missed anyone! (this list is from a couple old programs and rosters I found)

(+note to the LU cast: please let me know if you don't mind me listing your names+specific roles here as a performer/singer/actor...I left them in one bunch like this, in case anyone would prefer to be a little more anonymous) And huge gratitude to all who attended any of these shows, and/or gave words of encouragement (Kent Hayes, Peter Bennet, you both spring to mind :). THANK YOU!!! <3


Enjoy <3 <3 <3


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Jessica Fogle Chicago, Illinois

melancholy / quirky piano songs

*now releasing music as Jessica in The Rainbow -

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