About Dear Miss Barrett

Sarah Martin, 24, manages a rare-book shop / tea room in an American city.  She adores all things Victorian and dreams of living in a more civilized era. Her “kindred spirit across time” is Victorian English poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  In 1845, Elizabeth dreams of escaping the dark London room where, in frail health, she is kept a virtual prisoner by her domineering Papa. Forbidden by Papa ever to marry, Elizabeth receives an extraordinary fan letter from the young, rising literary star, Robert Browning.  In the present, Sarah receives an equally extraordinary offer from her boyfriend Henry, and two fabulous love stories, sumptuously told in gorgeous melodies and charming dialog, unfold back and forth across time. Richly embroidered with their many historic letters and poems, spoken or exquisitely sung, the Brownings’ little-told yet astonishing romance is given fresh relevance through the trials and humorous adventures of an endearing modern couple. This is a full-evening show with 24 original songs and a cast of around a dozen, including the two lead couples, Papa Barrett, and an ensemble who play various roles.

Ongoing new production details to be announced in the “News” section of this site, please check back!

Logo Design: The beautiful, striking logo featuring the silhouette of the character Sarah sipping her tea was designed by Jeremy Higgins of James Designs. jj@jjamesdesigns.com

From Michael:  I do naturally get the question, “You are a good composer, but shouldn’t you collaborate with a real writer to do the book and the lyrics?” Fair question, because most shows are written that way, but there have been some shows done by one person, like The Music Man (Meredith Wilson).  Fortunately, I do have co-writers in the form of many hundreds of letters written by Elizabeth and Robert Browning, and those form the skeleton of much of their dialog (those are in public domain). And I actually am an experienced writer of words in the form of many published articles, book chapters, and a full soon-to-be-published book (to be released Fall 2019 by Ignatius Press in San Francisco), not to mention critiquing the writing in hundreds of student term papers and theses over the years. So, I decided I would at least take a crack at writing the book for this show, and then I could ask others to read and help sharpen it, which is exactly what I did. I am very grateful to a number of theatrical directors and expert writers for their time reading the book and for their many suggestions, which I incorporated into many revisions, and now a couple of professional directors in New York have pronounced the script ready to go.