Unexpected Joy

UJ-FB-Title (1)A World Premiere Musical
Produced by Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater in association with Jim Kierstead

Unexpected Joy

Book and Lyrics by Bill Russell, Music by Janet Hood
Directed by Lynne Taylor-Corbett
Music Director Gillian Berkowitz

July 21 – August 20
Performances Wednesday-Monday at 8PM
Sunday July 31, August 7 & August 14 at 3PM & 8PM


Unexpected Joy has book and lyrics by Tony nominee Bill Russell (Side Show, Lucky Duck) and music by Janet Hood. It marks the first collaboration between the two since their song cycle Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens, which was inspired by the AIDS memorial quilt. Russell is a Tony Award nominee for book and lyrics to Side Show, on which he collaborated with Dreamgirls composer Henry Krieger. Russell has also penned book and lyrics to The Last Smoker in America and Kept. According to the authors, “Unexpected Joy is a new musical about four women – all of them singers, but of various experience and success: Joy, a baby-boomer, her daughter Rachel, Rachel’s daughter Tamara, and Lou, the woman Joy is intending to marry. But Joy hasn’t told Rachel about her wedding plans and has good reason to be apprehensive. Rachel is married to a successful televangelist and performs regularly on his TV show. When the family comes together for a concert honoring Rachel’s father (her mother never married him), the sparks and music fly!”

“The book and lyrics by Bill Russell (Tony nominee for his book and lyrics for “Side Show”) are beautifully integrated. The dialogue is smart and witty. The lyrics punctuate the story with heartfelt emotions. The music by Janet Hood… spans the eras, featuring, rock ’n’ roll, pop, blues and a gospel song….” Cape Cod Times

“a cast of talented singers and a tight onstage band…make the performance come alive ” New York Times

“an unexpected treat….fabulous” Cape Cod Chronicle

“ …the almost absurd talent of the cast and crew that is Unexpected Joy…” Broadway World

“a great success….astonishing” Provincetown Magazine

“goosebump-inducing” Provincetown Banner

“infectiously tuneful” Valley Advocate

Broadway World Review: Joyful Praise for UNEXPECTED JOY at WHAT

WHAT’s Joyful ‘Unexpected Joy’ Builds Bridges To Understanding (Chronicle review)

A seems-like-old-times collaboration brings ‘Joy’ (Boston Globe)

‘Unexpected Joy’: It Really Comes Together When Mom Sings Along (American Theatre Magazine)

‘Unexpected Joy’: conflicting values, set to music (Cape Cod Times review)

Unexpected Joy turns conflict on its head (Provincetown Banner)

Review: Unexpected Joy (Provincetown Magazine)

Recommended for age 13 and up. Please contact the box office if you have concerns about age-appropriate content.

The Cast:

Sally Mayes

The New York Times calls Sally Mayes ‘incandescent, deliciously saucy.’ People Magazine describes her as ‘the kind of rich theatrical voice that elevates a show tune.’ And Time Magazine says ‘Sally Mayes renders songs as richly nuanced as one-act plays.’ Sally made her Broadway debut in Cy Coleman’s Welcome to the Club. Her performance won critical praise along with a Theater World Award and Outer Critics Circle nomination as one of Broadway’s Outstanding Newcomers. On Broadway, Sally is perhaps best known for her performance in the Roundabout Theater revival of She Loves Me for which she won Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations. Sally appeared as Aunt Corene in Urban Cowboy (Drama Desk nomination). She drew raves as Mae West in the National Tour of Dirty Blonde and also appeared in the Broadway revival of Steel Magnolias. Sally starred in several Off-Broadway productions including Closer Than Ever (Outer Critics Circle nomination), Das Barbecu, Pete n’ Keely (Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Musical), Play It Cool, Good Ol’ Girls, and The Best is Yet to Come. Film and Television credits include Alpha House, City Hall, Double Parked and Bye Bye Birdie, Law and Order Criminal Intent, Sex and the City and The Job. Sally also appears on countless cast recordings including, Closer Than Ever, She Loves Me, Das Barbecu, Bye Bye Birdie, Lost in Boston, Unsung Musicals, Unsung Sondheim, and Night of the Hunter, to mention a few. Sally has five solo albums, The Dorothy Fields Songbook, Our Private World: The Comden and Green Songbook, The Story Hour, Boys and Girls Like You and Me, and Valentine. Sally’s much anticipated nightclub appearances have garnered her rave reviews from coast to coast; she has been nominated for twelve Manhattan Association of Cabarets & Clubs (MAC) awards, and has won two Back Stage Bistro awards for excellence in cabaret and recording.


Most recently, Lacretta made her Broadway debut in Disaster! Select credits: Broadway National Tours: The Book of Mormon (Latter Day). Regional: A Wrinkle in Time (Coterie), Legally Blonde (Barter), All Shook Up (FRP), Ragtime (PCS), Avenue Q (Barter) Hairspray (Broadway Rose). Opera: Carmen (Carmen), Gianni Schicchi (Zita), The Theory of Everything (Nightclub Singer, Pa’qo). Guest Soloist: Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra, The Amanda McBroom Project. Workshops: Disaster! The Musical, This One Girl’s Story (Gayfest), Street Lights (Joe Drymala) Harlem Ladies…(York Theatre). Television: Street Revenge (Law & Order: SVU) Game Over (30 Rock).

Michelle Duffy

Michelle Duffy made her Broadway debut in the Tony-nominated Alan Menken musical Leap of Faith and her off-Broadway debut in 2014 in Heathers: The Musical originating the roles of Susie Raylove in the former and Ms. Fleming and Veronica’s Mother in the latter. She’s on the original soundtrack recordings of both shows. She also originated the roles of Cynthia in First Wives Club: The Musical at The Oriental Theater in Chicago and Dani in Gettin’ The Band Back Together, directed by John Rando, at George Street Theater and most recently played Brooke Wyeth in Rubicon Theater’s Other Desert Cities. Recent tv credits include guest star roles on “The Good Wife” and “Elementary”, the HBO miniseries “Crime” and “The Carrie Diaries” and this fall completed filming in three indie features: “Pitching Tents” ,”The Hudson Tribes”, and “Atlantic Motel”. Michelle is currently developing her own show “Tenn O’Clock Cocktails” based on the work of Tennessee Williams. Having worked extensively in theater throughout Chicago and the west coast before finally coming to NYC, she has been the recipient of Ovation, Bay Area Theater Critics Circle, Garland, and Wilde Awards and is a three-time nominee for the Joseph Jefferson.

Charity Farrell

Charity Farrell’s New York credits include Peace, Love and Cupcakes, John 8, Madame Infamy: the Concert; and regionally Fiddler on the Roof, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Film) The Father and the Bear, Forevers End, and How It Ends.

The Director:

Lynne Taylor-Corbett

Taylor-Corbett has been nominated for Tony Awards and a Drama Desk Award for Broadway’s Swing!, and received Drama Desk and Lortel nominations for My Vaudeville Man and Wanda’s World. She directed and choreographed Cougar the Musical, and KICK! Off-Broadway. Regional shows include Tintypes at Hartford Stage and the Old Globe, Opal at George Street Playhouse and the Lyric Theatre, Flight of the Lawnchair Man for the Goodspeed Opera House, Hats in Chicago and Girl’s Room starring Donna McKechnie and Carol Lawrence in New York and Los Angeles. She also directed last season’s successful production of Joni Fritz’s In the Car with Blossom and Len at Centenary Stage, which will be presented at Queens Theatre this coming year. Her choreography can be seen in feature films Footloose and My Blue Heaven and in Disney’s stage show, Aladdin, at the Hyperion Theatre at Disneyland. She adapted and directed The Lion King for Disney’s production in Hong Kong. Her dance works have been commissioned by New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Hubbard Street Dance Company, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Carolina Ballet and numerous companies throughout the world. Broadcasts of her work have been seen on Live from Lincoln Center, Live from the San Francisco Opera House and on UNC TV. Distant Thunder, a musical set on the Blackfeet rez, written by Lynne and son, Shaun Taylor-Corbett, is in development with Amas and Playwrights Horizons.

Gillian Berkowitz

An in demand pianist and music director, Gillian Berkowitz has performed piano, keyboard, accordion, and vocals in over 30 Broadway and Off Broadway shows. She can currently be seen and heard in Jersey Boys, Finding Neverland, Wicked, and Avenue Q. Gillian has music directed dozens of new works throughout her career and has been on the creative team at the O’Neil Theatre Conference, NYMF, NAMT, Playwrights Horizons, Human Race Theatre, and Goodspeed. She is a regular contributing music director at 92nd Street Y, NYU’s Musical Theatre Composition program, TACT, and Lincoln Center’s Songbook Series. She has been featured as both a soloist and collaborator playing jazz, pop, classical, contemporary, and theatre music in venues across New York City including 54 Below, Lincoln Center, Birdland, Merkin Hall, City Winery, and Le Poisson Rouge. Gillian has conducted When You’re In Love, the Whole World is Jewish in collaboration with Jason Alexander and music directed productions of Vanishing Point: A New Musical (www.vanishingpointthemusical.com/Home.html). She composes and performs with the Sheba Ensemble, promoting Jewish music with a unique contemporary twist (www.shebaensemble.com) and is a pianist for Elan Artists. Gillian is also an adjunct faculty member at Pace University.  Upcoming projects include Cabot Cove, and Dan Fogelberg’s Part of the Plan.

Recommended for age 13 and up. Please contact the box office if you have concerns about age-appropriate content.

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