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Unwritten Rules was conceived by Danny Abosch and Tommy Nolan in 2006, during their senior year of high school. The show was written between September 2006 and June 2007 and workshopped at the end of the school year with a cast consisting of actors from their high school theatre program. The workshop culminated in a world premiere performance on June 6, 2007 at Caruso Middle School in Deerfield, Illinois. The cast and musicians also recorded a concept album on June 7, 2007. Click here for the full cast and crew involved in the production.

From the “Author’s Note” in the program:

When Tommy came to me in September of this year and said “we should write a musical”, I responded with a “yeah let’s try it”, thinking it was one of those aspirations that we’d never actually get around to doing, especially in our jam-packed senior year of high school. A little over 8 months later, here we are; the curtain is about to rise on our full-length original musical.

Tommy and I created this work out of sheer love for the art form that is musical theatre. We have both spent years studying anything we could get our hands on. Days in the library listening to cast recordings and paging through librettos. Nights seeing every theatrical performance we could fit into our schedules. We breathe theatre, and I can’t think of a better way to leave high school, than by writing our own show, and having it performed.

Tommy and I still argue about whose idea it was to write about teachers, but regardless, the idea struck us as something that hadn’t been done, at least in musical form. As we kept developing the details of the story, we couldn’t help but relate to the characters’ struggles and attitudes. As adolescents, a story about personal limits, and when it is right to ignore them, has never been more relevant. These characters all have to choose, as most of us do in real life, between doing something they believe is right and doing what is demanded of them by the rules.

Seeing this work develop from an idea, to a tangible printed document, to a human interpretation has been an amazing experience, and one that has taught us so much more than any classroom experience ever could. We share that experience with you tonight, as you become a part of our process. We hope you enjoy this workshop performance. You are the very first of the hopefully many audiences who will see this show.

Danny Abosch

Unwritten Rules went on to take third place in the Academy of New Musical Theatre’s (ANMT) 2008 Search for New Voices in American Musical Theatre. (First place went to Georgia Stitt, Broadway composer and wife of composer/lyricist Jason Robert Brown!) In her analysis of the piece, Elise Dewsberry writes:

“The score is extremely accomplished and rich… The music has a strong, contemporary feeling and a powerful and distinctive voice… clearly a composer with a great deal of technical skill, but also with the ability to infuse music with emotional power and depth.” - Elise Dewsberry, Associate Artistic Director (ANMT)

The authors don’t consider the show to be “finished” yet, although they are both currently working on other projects. They hope to revisit Unwritten Rules in the near future and work with others to revise it. In the mean time, they hope you will browse the concept recording and synopsis posted here, and enjoy the story of Unwritten Rules in its current incarnation. If you are interested in mounting a workshop of Unwritten Rules, please contact Danny Abosch.