IndieWorks Theatre Company in New York may be marketing "The Giant Hoax" as Kit Goldstein Grant's new musical, but her friends and family in the Schenectady area know better.
"Well, I have been working on it since it premiered up in Schenectady in 2010," said Goldstein Grant, a Niskayuna native who is keeping quite busy these days churning out musicals ever since she moved to New York nearly six years ago. "I put it away for about five years, always knowing that I would pull it back out at some point. It's a good show. We did a stage reading down here, and then I did some rewrites a couple of years ago and then some more rewrites after that."
"The Giant Hoax" will open with previews Nov. 19, then run for 16 performances Nov. 25 through Dec. 7. Theatre One (formerly The Lion Theatre) on Theatre Row (West 42nd Street) in New York will be the host venue.
The musical tells the story of the Cardiff Giant, a "petrified man" uncovered in October of 1869 in Onondaga County in central New York just south of Syracuse. It was first produced by the Schenectady troupe, the Classic Theater Guild, back in November 2010 in the Fenimore Gallery at Proctors. While the story was a hoax, the discovery created plenty of commotion, prompting P.T. Barnum to introduce his own giant and make it part of his traveling circus. At the time, Barnum insisted his 10-foot petrified man was the real giant and that the original found in Cardiff was a copy. By February of 1870, both stories had been debunked.
In Goldstein Grant's play, the main character is Emily, called "Stub" by her friends, who runs away from home and finds work on Stub Newell's farm, where the giant was "discovered." Christopher Michaels, the founder and producing artistic director at IndieWorks Theatre Company, is directing the show, while Jonathon Lynch is music director and Molly Model the choreographer. They and the entire cast of actors are based in New York City.
"Technically, this producion is somewhere in that nebulous space between Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway," said Goldstein Grant. "I've worked with the director and producer before on other projects, so I'm very excited about our limited run of 16 performances, and then hopefully it will also have a life after that."
Goldstein Grant's musicals have been enjoying plenty of play lately. "The Nose" premiered at the 2017 National Arts Festival in South Africa and played in New York at the historic 1,300-seat Master Theater in Brooklyn. "The Wrong Box," another Goldstein Grant musical that premiered back in 2012 at Union College, was a finalist for London's Burbage Productions New Writing Prize.
"I feel like I've been going constantly since we moved down here," said Goldstein Grant. "There's been a lot of activity, and having 'The Nose' play at a great historic theater in Brooklyn was probably my high point. I'm also very proud that the second production of 'The Nose' was produced three times in South Africa."
While Goldstein Grant was home-schooled part of the time growing up, she did enjoy a few years in the Niskayuna school district and took some classes at SUNY Schenectady County Community College before heading to Union College, where she graduated in 2005 with a degree in cultural musical theater. She has also studied at Julliard, Primary Stages and the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Writing Workshop. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild and ASCAP, and was a founding member of the Composers Collective.
"I was home-schooled much of my life, but I had a great group of teachers at Union College that were a major source of inspiration to me," said Goldstein Grant, singling out Tim Olsen, Hilary Tann, Joanne Yarrow and Charles Steckler.
Goldstein Grant also fine-tuned her craft by writing musicals for the Schenectady Theater for Children. Working with Dee Mulford and Claire Nolan, among others, she created works including "King Midas," "It's Raining Tamales" and "Androcles and the Lion."
"If anybody can write a funny children's musical about 'Androcles and the Lion,' it would be Kit," said Mulford, who was the set designer when the Classic Theater Guild did "The Giant Hoax" at Proctors. "If anybody can find a word to rhyme with 'orange' it would be Kit. She wrote a show for the king and queen of the Netherlands when they visited the New York State Museum. She is amazing."
In 2012, Goldstein Grant married Michael Grant. At the time she was also working at her family's business, Tough Traveler on State Street in Schenectady. The couple are expecting their first child in November.
"His passion is video, and he is working as a film archivist and in film preservation," Goldstein Grant said of her husband. "We grew up on Troy-Schenectady Road less than a half mile from each other. We're having a baby in November, so we're hoping he's going to make it to one of the performances with us."
According to Broadway World, Goldstein Grant should be "lauded for not writing down to children," and because her musicals are "kid-friendly shows that are also fun for adults."
'The Giant Hoax'
WHERE: Theatre Row-Theatre One, 410 West 42nd St., New York
WHEN: Previews begin Nov. 19; show runs Nov. 25-Dec. 7; check website for performance times
HOW MUCH: $55-$40
MORE INFO: www.kitgoldstein.com