Happy If Happy When is a full-length musical based on a true story, written and initially performed by the family who lived it. The Book, Lyrics & Music are by Kimerer LaMothe. Music & Arrangements are by Geoffrey Gee
Have you ever had a dream? Happy If Happy When tells the story of one family — two artists and their five children — who move from the city to the country, only to find the farm they bought has its own ideas of who it wants them to be. And the farm is right.
ACT ONE: Two artists have a dream: they want to leave their city home and move with their five children to the country (“Living Your Dream”). Two years later, those five children (Morgan, Jesse, Quinn, Jo, and Teddie) vent their frustrations on Mom — the family is still living in the city (“When”). Mom squabbles with Dad, and in the aftermath, her back gives out (“Slowly”). Meanwhile, Jesse searches the internet for real estate, and finds an old farm for sale (“This Is It”). Ted convinces Mom to take a look (“Slowly”/”When” reprise), but Mom must still convince Dad to visit (“You Move Me”). After a trip to the farm, everyone except Quinn is thrilled and making plans (“Everything I Need to Know); only to discover that the farm they want to buy is unavailable (“Catch the Current”). When the farm unexpectedly comes back on the market, Quinn does not want to leave their city home (“Future in Me”); but everyone else is so excited, Quinn decides to follow the family and move (“Never Stop Creating”). Finally there (“We Are Here”), the family discovers that the farm wants them to be: farmers. Morgan is the first to feel the pull (“Ghosts in the Barn”). Much to Mom and Dad’s surprise, Morgan decides s/he needs a cow; Jesse decides s/he needs a horse; Joe some chickens; and Ted, a duck (“Why Not?”). As their household expands, tensions erupt. Jesse and Quinn argue and Quinn runs away (“Future in Me” reprise).
ACT TWO: Meanwhile Jo and Teddie break Morgan’s new lathe and blame each other. Their conflict crescendos into a heated argument between Mom and Dad (“No Dream of Mine”). Jesse runs in crying that their horse is missing – and so is Quinn. The family spreads out, desperate to find Quinn – and Jesse’s horse. In the woods and fields, characters meet each other: Jo and Teddie make up (“Copy Cat”); Jesse finds Quinn and apologizes (“Richer Am I”). Returning home, the kids bond over chore time (“Holy Cow!”), and then discover Jesse’s cat, dead. Quinn notices the cat gave birth to kittens, and in finding them, finds their 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 as the family reflects on their journey, and Quinn affirms that they have what they needs to move forward in 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!