Songs from Can’t Keep Quiet, a Musical Revue Celebrating Womxn Songwriters

October 07, 2019 Rachel Bertone and Anique Mercier

From October 10 through 13, 2019, Boston Conservatory at Berklee will salute women’s often unsung contributions to the American musical with the original revue Can't Keep Quiet: A Concert Celebrating Womxn Composers and Lyricists. Director Rachel Bertone (B.F.A. '07, contemporary dance) and assistant director Anique Mercier (M.F.A. '20, musical theater) discuss the production’s creative process and offer a sampling of songs from the performance.

At the beginning of the devising process for this piece, the cast was asked to list all the male-identifying musical theater writers that they could recall. The names Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jason Robert Brown, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, and a seemingly endless list of other male composers were shouted through the rehearsal room. The cast was then asked to do the same for female-identifying musical theater writers. Apart from Sara Bareilles and Jeanine Tesori, the responses were staggeringly sparse. Can't Keep Quiet explores why this disparity exists, and how we, as a theatrical community, can create a more inclusive industry.

In spite of the imbalance between the cast's lists of male and female writers, the large amount of music written by women—from Broadway to the halls of Boston Conservatory at Berklee—made the musical selection process for this show no easy task. These songs ask difficult, yet necessary, questions about what it means to be a woman in musical theater.

Central to our revue and the inspiration behind its title is MILCK’s “Quiet,” which became the anthem of the 2017 Women’s March. The other selections range from songs of female empowerment, such as “Back to Before” from Ragtime, to songs exploring the dangers associated with discrimination, such as “Why We Build the Wall” from Hadestown.

The revue explores the immense impact female writers have had throughout musical theater history and celebrates the unique individual and collective strengths of our 43-person company. The Can't Keep Quiet team is excited to engage in conversations about the past, present, and future role of female-identifying artists in musical theater with our audiences and hope that all who attend will join the cause.

Can't Keep Quiet: A Concert Celebrating Womxn Composers and Lyricists will be presented  from Thursday, October 10 through Sunday, October 13, 2019 at Boston Conservatory Theater. Learn more and purchase tickets.