Audition for Teen Musical Helmed by Filmmaker Bess O'Brien | Kids VT | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Seven Days needs your support!

Give Now

Audition for Teen Musical Helmed by Filmmaker Bess O'Brien 

Published March 3, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. | Updated April 6, 2022 at 9:21 a.m.

click to enlarge kidsbeat1-1-31a057736be58dcf.jpg

Fifteen years ago, Vermont filmmaker Bess O'Brien helmed an ambitious project in which teens from across the state worked together to write and perform an original musical. Touching on topics from peer pressure to racial identity, The Voices Project — from Kingdom County Productions, with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont as its main underwriter — toured 11 Vermont towns and was the subject of a New York Times article. This year, O'Brien presents a new reiteration of the project. After making six films in a row, including Vermont-based documentaries The Hungry Heart and Coming Home, O'Brien said she was eager to switch gears and "use a different artistic muscle." In the summer of 2018, she pitched the Listen Up Project to the Vermont Department of Health and Blue Cross and Blue Shield. They committed $100,000 and $150,000 respectively.

Then O'Brien got to work. "You can't write a show about teens unless you talk to teens," she said. So, for seven months, she crisscrossed the state interviewing more than 900 teens from diverse backgrounds at schools, community centers, afterschool programs and youth conferences to find out what was happening in their lives, what they valued and what they wanted others to know about them. Next, she and cowriter Gary Miller recruited a team of 15 youths from around the state to help write the musical. Now O'Brien is looking for local teen actors and musicians to be part of the production, which will be directed by Northern Vermont University theatre professor and Blue Man Group alum Isaac Eddy and musically directed by Lyric Theatre collaborator Nate Venet.

Teen musicians will come together in April to write the songs for the show. Actors will be cast in March and rehearse at Lyndon Institute for three weeks in August. The show will premiere on September 12 and tour for five weekends at 12 locations across the state.

To sign up for acting auditions or to be considered to write music for the Listen Up Project and to learn more, visit

This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

About The Author

Alison Novak

Alison Novak

Alison is the former managing editor at Kids VT, Seven Days' parenting publication and writes about education for Seven Days.


Comments are closed.

From 2014-2020, Seven Days allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we've appreciated the suggestions and insights, right now Seven Days is prioritizing our core mission — producing high-quality, responsible local journalism — over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative

All content © 2023 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401

Advertising Policy  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us  |  About Us  |  Help
Website powered by Foundation