Brilliance began in NYC, when Lance and Kristan were writing songs together for the catalog of their newly formed musical duo King Lewman. They wrote a song called When Will It Be Morning. Oddly and uncharacteristically, it sounded like a song from a musical, so they put it aside. A few weeks later, Kristan stumbled upon a second-hand bookstore in the Village and saw a book entitled, Will There Really Be a Morning. It was a line from that song, so she picked up the book. It was the autobiography of Frances Farmer. She bought it, took it home and showed it to Lance.
“A musical based on the life of Frances Farmer?”
Seemed like a good idea.
They told a friend who worked at Windows on the World w/ Kristan about the idea and it turned out he was a huge Frances Farmer fan. He gave them all her movies and even an unpublished and signed book called, Look Back in Love written by Frances Farmer’s sister, Edith. Though they acknowledged it was good idea, neither of them had ever written a musical so they did what songwriters do… they started writing songs that might go in a musical about Frances Farmer. They’d set them aside in a folder marked “musical songs.”
Spin forward to 2008? King Lewman was recording our 4th album of originals and Kristan said, “I want to put No Windows on the album. Lance said, “No, That’s for the musical!” To which Kristan replied, “There’s isn’t going to be a Musical.” Considering the amount of time that had elapsed since they’d initially decided to create the musical, he acquiesced.
But, he also took that as a challenge. When Kristan went back to Winston-Salem to take care of her mom, Lance, at home alone, started writing the book, and more songs. Gabriel, their son, was in his 4th year at UNCSA, and after Lance finished the first draft, he and Kristan contributed many more songs to the idea.
In November of 2020, Lance joined TheaterMakers Studio (TMS), a group of aspiring writers formed by two-time Tony Award winner, Ken Davenport. Through TMS, during quarantine, they produced and presented a Zoom reading of Brilliance in June of 2021. Because both theatres and tours were down, they were able to get some amazing talent. Caroline Bowman as Frances, Jeri Sager as Lillian, Wayne Duvall as Adolph Zucker and Ted Brunetti as Harold Clurman to name just a few.After presenting the Zoom, they were invited to put Brilliance on it’s feet by doing an off-Broadway residency at The Players Theatre in NYC. Many readings and 22 rewrites later we are ready to get this baby up on its feet!
It is our hope to bring more awareness to the Mental Health industry. It seems almost some form of Mental illness touches all families.
So many relevant notes are hit upon in the story of Frances, one is the similarity of Frances’ situation and that of Brittney Spears, Demi Lovato and Amanda Bynes, as they struggle under conservatorships (along with 1.3 million Americans). Hopefully, “holding a mirror up to nature” will make a positive difference.
Everyone on the Brilliance team is beyond excited and grateful for this amazing journey we are on!