Musical brand

An all-new musical preview explores the life and legacy of Jeanette Rankin | State

MISSOULA, Mont. – People get a chance to catch a glimpse of an all-new musical that sounds like Montana’s own version of Hamilton on Thursday night. The production “We Won’t Sleep” is about Jeannette Rankin, the Montana native who was the first woman elected to serve in the United States Congress.

The show is still in the workshop phase and will continue to be developed over the next year, so audience members will have a unique role on Thursday night.

“Every time you create a new play, we don’t know what it’s going to be,” said Montana Repertory Theater artistic director Michael Legg. “Having an audience early on to watch, to react. For us, hearing them laugh or gasp is really, really important to help us predict what the show will look like in the future.

The Montana Repertory Theater and the Jeanette Rankin Foundation are organizing the preview.

This week, the show’s creative team continued to work, creating new music and material to show.

That team includes heavy hitters, like Lauren Gunderson, one of America’s most produced playwrights, as well as songwriting and lyrics by Ari Afsar, who played Eliza in Chicago’s production of Hamilton.


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The show is musically directed by Sheela Ramesh and co-directed by Erin Ortman and Yusha-Marie Sorzano.

Karen Sterk, CEO of the Jeannette Rankin Foundation, shared how far she hopes the show will go.

“Oh, I hope it does on Broadway. I want it to explode like Hamilton, so everyone knows who Jeannette Rankin is like everyone knows who Hamilton is, like nobody knew who Hamilton was before the musical .”

According to the team, the contemporary-style musical examines the story and life of Jeanette Rankin, then pushes her forward to explore her legacy on things like voting and women’s rights today.

Thursday’s preview will be at the Masquer Theater on the University of Montana campus at 7 p.m.

Ticket information can be found here.