Happy If Happy When is a full-length musical based on a true story, written and performed by the family who lived it. The Book, Lyrics & Music are by Kimerer LaMothe. Music & Arrangements are by Geoffrey Gee
What’s it about?
In every family there’s that one person who just doesn’t want to move with the rest. How can a family be happy when one of its own isn’t?
Happy If Happy When begins as two artists and their five children, prompted by middle child Eliza, look back on the series of events that changed their lives: the time they followed a dream and moved to the country (“Living Your Dream”).
Stepping back four years, the musical introduces each child, revealing how every one of them – except Eliza — has a different reason for wanting to move to the country (“Everything I Need to Know”). When Mom comes home from work, the kids vent their frustration (“When”). Mom shares their dream, but is helpless to do anything about it.
Burdened by everyone’s wanting, Mom has a back spasm (“Slowly”). Meanwhile, Sarah searches the internet for real estate, and finds a farm for sale (“This Is It”). After Ted convinces Mom to take a look, Mom must convince Dad to visit (“You Move Me”). Although the farm they want to buy is initially unavailable (“Catch the Current”), and Eliza does not want to leave her city home (“Future in Me”), the family perseveres, pulls together, and moves (“Never Stop Creating”).
Once at the farm (“We Are Here”), the family discovers that the place has its own ideas of what it wants them to be. Hank is the first to feel the pull to farm (“Ghosts in the Barn”). Much to his parents’ surprise, Hank decides he needs a cow; Sarah decides she needs a horse; Joe some chickens; and Ted, a duck (“Why Not?”). As their household expands, tension erupts. Sarah and Eliza argue, and Eliza runs away. Meanwhile, Joe and Ted break Hank’s new lathe, until the conflict crescendos into a break between Mom and Dad (“No Dream of Mine”). Sarah runs in crying that her horse is missing – and so is Eliza.
The family spreads out, desperate to find Eliza and Sarah’s horse. In the woods and fields, on the property, characters meet each other: Joe and Ted make up (“Copy Cat”); Sarah apologizes to Eliza (“Richer Am I”). And when Hank’s cow escapes from her pen, Eliza takes charge and discovers how helpful she can be. Returning home, the kids bond over chore time (“Holy Cow!”), before finding Sarah’s cat, dead. Eliza notices the cat has had kittens, and finds her own reason for staying on the farm. Mom and Dad realize that, amidst it all, they are getting what they need to create the art they want to make (“Happy If – Happy When”). The musical ends with a return to the present day, in which Eliza realizes that she has what she needs to move forward in her life (“Love Is”).
Where did the musical play?
December 27, 28, 29, 30, 2018. Gene Frankel Theatre, 24 Bond Street, New York City. The LaMothe Gee Family performed five shows in this historic theatre.
September 5, 12, 19, 2018. New York New Works Theatre Festival, The Acorn, Theatre Row, New York City. The LaMothe Gee Family performed a 25-minute version of the show as part of a showcase for investors and producers.
July 26, 27, 28, 2018. Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, LATEA at the Clemente Theatre, New York City. This production featured the seven members of the LaMothe Gee Family, and a three-piece band including drums/violin, bass/guitar, and Geoffrey on piano.
July 21, 22, 23, 2017. Fort Salem Theater, Salem, NY, Artistic director Jay Kerr produced a three-show run that featured the seven members of the LaMothe Gee Family, and a four-piece band including drums, bass/guitar, violin, and Geoffrey on piano.
How did audiences respond?
“Your musical was so inspiring. uplifting and magnificent!!” – LP
“The music is breathtaking.” – JC
“Thank you for making such valuable, generous and rather spectacular work!” – SH
“The coordination and commitment and good will and communal creativity it took to create and bring this play to fruition are breathtaking.” — SH
“The musical was amazing. We were blown away by the music, the lyrics, the staging and the voices of all seven of you. How powerful and good and strong. As you know it all made me cry… You are a total inspiration.” — ST
“We couldn’t speak for about fifteen minutes after the show. We were so moved we would choke up when we tried to talk. What an incredible show … What a beautiful message… and what an amazing performance.” — TW
“The lyrics were fun and clever and the music was perfect. I can’t say enough how much I enjoyed it. Congratulations on a perfect show.” — DT
“I SO enjoyed your show last night. Your story line and the music struck a note for all of us, whether a native or a transplant. The bottom line is to nurture and be stewards of the beautiful world we are in… You scored a winner!” — AC
The whole idea of a family performing a musical together was really inspired and in the end, just brilliant. You can really see and feel the bond that they all have with each other. The singing was honest and fascinating. . . The whole concept of the play was something quite genuine and creative. One might think that this is a vanity play with mediocre talent … nope. The acting, transcendent; the voices, marvelous. Even the two really young youngsters were exceptional. It’s quite unique to see such young talent on anything but a Broadway show, studio film or network TV. I’m dubious of musicals, but this one definitely made me reconsider my views and bring myself back for more. – Mia Moreta, https://words4musicblog.wordpress.com
The entire family/cast were exemplary and worked well off of each other – as well [they] should… We were offered catchy tunes – a throwback to the good old days of the American musical – sung well with some stunning harmonies. Kimerer LaMothe also showed herself to be a fine dancer. Happy If Happy When took an age-old art form and innovated it: A family musical for the whole family done by the family about the family so bring the family to see it! – Alexa Garcia, Outer Stage, Journal of independent stage and film reviews
How did it all begin?
Writing a musical was not something Kimerer ever thought she would do — until it was. In this blog post, written for Psychology Today, she talks about the process of coming to the realization that yes, it was time! Really, it’s all Hamilton‘s fault.
Happy If — Happy When: Why Write a Musical?
What was the creative process like?
Before writing the musical, Kimerer had played around with writing songs — mostly in the early years of her relationship with Geoffrey. But then life got busy and she stopped. Starting again has been such a pleasure! In this post she talks about her creative process. You got it. It involves moving… Running for a Song: Does Bodily Movement Enhance Creativity?
Any other questions? Let me know, leave a comment below!