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'Manson's Girls' musical tells story of followers

July 31, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
From "Sweeney Todd" to "Jekyll and Hyde," music and murder have sold a lot of theatre tickets and won a lot of Tony Awards.

Now, a new musical based on the Manson Family called "Manson's Girls" is in the works. The Academy for New Musical Theatre is working with the drama department at the University of California, Irvine, to help to develop new productions.

"Manson's Girls" takes us back to the summer of 1969, leading up to one of the most well-known mass murder sprees in history. Professional actor Christopher Maikish plays Charles Manson and UC Irvine students play Manson's girls.

"We tell the story of who these people are before all that tragedy and what it means to sort of give yourself over to another person completely and blindly," Maikish said.

"What we're trying to explore is not what was it about Manson specifically, but what was it within these individual women that allowed them to let themselves be manipulated by Manson?" said director Stephanie Coltrin.

Scott Guy, the writer of the musical, said they are treating the characters sympathetically.

"Actually trying to understand not the mind of a serial killer, but someone who's looking for love, someone who's looking for attention, someone who's looking for a family," Guy said.

The production wants to be respectful to the real people connected to the murders played out in the story. Everyone involved seems to understand the delicate balance in play.

"You don't want to clap for it," said Abbey Howe, who plays Linda Kasabian. "You finish a song singing about murder and it's great - it has a button. It feels like you should clap, but you don't want to because it's about something that doesn't feel right."

The hope is to have "Manson's Girls" ready as a full production in 2013.

Next week, there are two more performances of this work at the NoHo Arts Center in North Hollywood.


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