AUBURN – Linda Britt knew it was an odd request.

She had just written the play for a musical comedy about divorce, which she called “31 Ways to Kill an Ex-Husband.”

She wanted her son, Colin, to write the music.

“I was afraid he was going to choke on his dinner, faint or merely flip out,” said Linda.

When Colin heard the title, he merely hoped she would ask somebody else. After all, his mom had divorced his dad.

“I was kind of like, Ahhh …,'” said Colin. “I was very hesitant.”

He read it, though. He learned that the musical was not about his parents. It was about relationships and breakups, something he could identify with. And it was funny.

The story focuses on a group of women, all but one of whom have suffered a divorce.

As the curtain rises, six women tell the stories of their breakups, from their husband’s infidelity to their own. One discovers that she is married to a cross-dresser.

Another’s husband is never around. Soon, the last of the women is deserted by her husband, who leaves behind a note.

It begins, “Dear Karen,” and of course, ushers in a song.”Off to the horizon I must go,” Karen sings, reading her husband’s inflated goodbye.

It’s cynical, funny and a little bit sad.

Broken promises

The play grew from Linda Britt’s own musings about relationships, she said, stories she has heard and a difficult question that most adults ask: Is marriage worth it?

She also wanted to be funny, playing with the impulse to vent about lost loves and broken promises.

Much of the work was done during her long daily commutes between Auburn, where she lives, and the University of Maine at Farmington, where she teaches Spanish.

Colin was her first choice to add the music.

“Why not?” she said. “He’s the best writer I know.”

Linda’s play and lyrics were enough to inspire Colin, a 19-year-old music student at the University of Hartford’s HARRT School of Music, to write all 11 of the show’s songs in three weeks.

“I wish I could have that kind of productivity all year long,” said Colin, who began writing the tunes immediately after taking his final exams in May.

They include a sultry tango called “Temptation” and a 1980s-style rock song that recalls Joan Jett and Pat Benatar. It’s called “Lorena Bobbitt.”

On the stage, wives take turns imagining ways of bumping off an ex-husband, from poison to a close encounter with a sharp object.

There are quieter moments, too, including the husbands’ song: “Our Side.”

Teamwork

Linda and Colin Britt have worked together before.

Last year, they wrote and performed two other musicals: a children’s show called “Who’s Running the School?” and “Billionaire Vegans.”

They also collaborated in a one-act comedy that will open this weekend’s performances. It’s titled “The Legend of Britt Collins” and spoofs an innocent run-in Colin once had with a Massachusetts state trooper.

Always, Linda writes the plays: the story, the dialogue and the lyrics. Colin writes the music. Linda directs the shows, and Colin directs the musical numbers and the orchestra.

It’s the only way either would do it.

“The lyrics usually suggest a mood or what a character’s feeling,” Colin said. His mother’s words are his starting place.

In the author’s note on the show’s program, Linda thanked her son for working with her again.

“I am blessed with the most amazing, talented, awesome son that any mother ever had,” she wrote. “It has been my great privilege to collaborate with him yet again.”


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