The history of enslavement—and dramatic escapes—is part of the Eastern Shore’s DNA. Go no farther than Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass to recognize their celebrated quests for freedom and to understand subjugation on the 19th Shore, an inequality still a burning thread in the fabric of our lives.
Chestertown has its own chapters to add to the growing canon of great escapes. One of them is the story of Issac Mason, an enslaved man who fled his bondage in 1846, now told in a new musical as a reading.
The original musical “ISAAC: A Musical Journey,” written by Kent County native Marlon Saunders will premiere at Washington College’s Gibson Arts Center on June 24, 25, and 26 and promises to be one of the season’s most heartfelt and entertaining theatrical events.
KCA states, “This production will feature Paris Nesbit (Broadway: Book of Mormon) as ISAAC, Sue Matthews as Enslaver Hannah Woodward, and Kelly Sloan as the Ancestral Goddess. The reading will be supported by musicians Marlon Saunders (Composer), David Inniss and Eric Brown. The premiere is being directed by Biti Strauchn and produced by John Schratwieser.”
Commissioned by the Kent Cultural Alliance (KCA) for the Chesapeake Heartland Project at Washington College, “ISAAC” is based on the autobiography “Isaac Mason as a Slave.”
New School Jazz writes,” Marlon Saunders, former professor and alumnus of Berklee College of Music, is the founder and CEO of The Seamless Voice, a vocal and artist-coaching studio in New York City. As a vocal coach, Marlon works with artists from all major recording labels and has Broadway artists currently in Hadestown, Ain’t Too Proud, Frozen, Kinky Boots, Beautiful, The Lion King, and Book of Mormon. Marlon has toured with Stevie Wonder on The Songs In The Key of Life Tour. He was also the vocal contractor for Sam Smith and Bastille, Logic and Mondo Cozmo.”
In a recent interview with the Spy, Marlon Saunders talked about his youth in Chestertown, his early musical influences, life beyond Kent County and entering the professional world of musicians, and, of course, the composing of “ISSAC: A Musical Journey.”