Tyler Beattie and Emma Lively’s musical, Bliss will premiere at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre in January. Submitted photo

WILTON — Emma Lively and Tyler Beattie have been working together for years and now their original musical, Bliss, is slated to premiere in January at a Seattle theater.

In June it was announced performances will be held January 31 – February 23, 2020 at 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle. It will be directed by Sheryl Kaller and choreographed by Josh Prince. Both are Tony award nominees.

Lively is a Mt. Blue graduate from Wilton. She then studied classical viola performance and shortly after graduating met Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way.

“The book was influential, it exposed me to ideas on creative unblocking. I realized I wanted to be a creator not a re-creator,” Lively said recently. “I started writing musicals. A few years later I met Tyler. There was an instant connection.”

Beattie grew up in Wisconsin and went to Northwestern University as a Performance Studies major. A lifelong theater lover, he now lives in New York City where he is a writer, composer, and teaching artist.

“Emma and I became friends, started writing together,” he said.


The pair is a cool combination with Lively’s classical background and Beattie’s in jazz. They have written three or four projects together.

“Bliss is the first to go all the way to having a big production. We have a lot of things in development. We’re so excited to have this one being produced, especially in the theater of our dreams,” Beattie said.

Several happenstances lined up to make the premiere possible. Last October a month-long production workshop on Bliss was held. Something happened with another show scheduled for time slot at the Seattle theater. That opened up the slot for Bliss to premiere in its place.

“We were really lucky. We’ve been developing the show for several years,” Beattie said. “The opportunity to do the month-long workshop was revelatory. We could see the choreography, hear what the orchestra sounded like.

“We learned a lot, killed a lot of trees with daily re-writes. We wrote new pages, new songs. If we hadn’t done that, we wouldn’t be ready (for the premiere). It gave us confidence in what we were doing, in our team.

“We are so excited to be working with Kaller and Prince. They bring so much depth, imagination to the show.”


Lively is grateful Kaller is at the helm.

“She’s an amazing story teller and visionary. She has pushed us to go deeper, to explore the themes more,” she said.

Bliss is a musical comedy, a riff on fairy tales. Four motherless princesses, who don’t meet the norms of princess behavior, have been locked up for 10 years. When they get a chance to leave the castle, encountering a fairy godfather and a magical pink lagoon, they clash with what princess society asks them to be.

Beattie said, “At the core of the musical is this metaphor of a magical spell. Four princesses who are everything a princess shouldn’t be are faced with the question of ‘to dip or not to dip.’

“It’s a universal question we all encounter. Do we conform with what society tells us to be or do we go with a more authentic version of who we really are? That push-pull carries through for all of us, young or old.

“I’d like parents and their daughters to see the show then have a conversation about dipping into the pink lagoon, what changing would take away from them or what they need to feel secure. Ask what’s wrong or what actually makes you part of being you.”


Most of the cast will be from New York City. The first few weeks of rehearsal will be held there before heading over to Seattle. The performances there are referred to as an out of town tryout with hopes for a Broadway performance later.

“When people buy Broadway tickets, they don’t realize the production has been in the works for a decade,” Beattie said.

For about 10 years, Lively and Beattie have spent part of each summer in Wilton on a writing retreat. The good friends write a lot of songs at her parents’ piano.

“We live in Brooklyn. The quiet in Wilton is very different. It’s an inspiring place for us. We take walks in the woods, look at the lake. We find a lot of ideas,” Lively said.

Beattie added, “I love the level of removal in our ritual of coming to Wilton. Just being around nature, the quietness, the water. Sometimes I think that is the most inspiring of all.”

The pair begins their writing process by thinking about what would be fun and exciting to explore. Once they know that, they start thinking about what story should be told, the themes and characters, what would be interesting.


“What is somewhat unusual about our collaboration is we really do it all. We write the book (the story) and the music together. There’s a seamlessness I really value. With Emma, you can’t tell where one ended another begins,” Beattie said.

Lively said, “Bliss at its core asks this question. ‘Can I be who I really am and still have what I really want?’ I think that’s something we can all relate to.”

Beattie noted, “Bliss is a new fairy tale that explores all the fairy tale trophs (themes). From princesses to towers to motherlessness to happily ever after to transformation, all of those.”


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