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The Muskrats is a new play with music, which had its first reading produced in New York City in May of 2023. Set in Upstate NY in 1996, the curtain rises in the first act on a practice room, where we meet Dave, a talented musician earnestly trying to write a song. He is introduced to a young woman, Katie Sullivan, who is new to town. A song is called for, and Dave sings Trip Downtown, made entirely from Katie’s monologue about getting lunch with her mother. Katie starts to catch on to Dave's impromptu creation, adding her own lyrics and harmonies. They couldn't be any more different - Katie, face of an angel, straight A's; Dave is a loner, consistently cutting class, and has no real ambition. When Katie barges in on Dave's writing session, they are months away from graduation.


Katie asks Dave if he would like to write songs together, and after some convincing, he agrees to meet at his grandparents’ house the next day. After weeks of playing mostly Dave’s songs, they perform for the first time on the street - Our Baby Rosie. Later at dinner at Katie's, Mrs. Sullivan asks Dave what his plans for college are, as Katie will be attending Penn State. He had no idea that she was going away, and he abruptly leaves, telling Katie to keep the guitar case filled with the money they made. Days later Katie tells Dave she’s changed her mind and is taking a gap year. In their fervor, they compose By Yourself out of thin air. Katie becomes taken with Dave, putting her head on his shoulder as the play piano together. The next day, they meet with the band - Drew, Patrick and Adam, and they eagerly play through Dave’s new ideas - The Boy & House Home Whatever (Parts 1 & 2). The band work out his songs live in front of our eyes onstage. 


The next days are spent rehearsing, discovering some new invention called “the world wide web”, and kicking around possible band names. The band finds out that the reason they’re always rehearsing in Dave’s grandparents’ basement is because his parents died in a car accident when he was only 5 years old. At their first big gig - (Song in D), the band kills, the audience goes wild, and Dave and Katie share a very intense accidental kiss backstage. They meet Keith Morris, a manager from NYC, who after hearing one song and taking a good look at Katie’s face, states matter of factly, “You guys are gonna be f- huge.” 


At the start of Act II it is now the year 2002. We are introduced to the band secretary Steph on the phone in Dave’s hotel suite in Cleveland. After she turns down multiple gigs, Dave enters with two groupies under his arms. He looks a good 20 years older, and speaks with a bravado so far from the opportunistic band leader we once knew from Act I. Katie grows frustrated with the new Dave and would like to get back to their old rehearsal space (Dave’s grandparents’ basement). After some convincing, he agrees, and the band flies back home to rehearse for the day - Intro, Takeback (Katie), In Another Life. Katie starts to get wind of Dave's drug habit, and starts seeing Josh, a Stanford grad, computer engineer who seems to know exactly what he wants in his life - which includes Katie.

During their date, the scene moves to Dave, who is alone in bed with his guitar. Once again, off the top of his head, he writes another song. The very personal - Grace. He imagines the band playing along with him. Unbeknownst to him, Katie entered, and has been listening. She sits down on the bed and kisses him, catching him off guard. Two weeks later, Josh and Katie are still going strong. Dave says he does not want Josh ("or whatever his name is") hanging around backstage anymore. A huge fight occurs onstage, embarrassing the band and crew. Patrick takes Drew aside to discuss a possible new band. The next morning, Dave is drunk during an interview with Spin Magazine, embarrassing the band once again, this time with his self-absorbed, ridiculous answers. However, as soon as Keith and Katie sit down to have a serious talk with him, Steph barges into the room and shrieks - “You’re nominated for a Grammy!!” And even after all the drama, chaos and insanity, Katie still somehow longs for Dave, and writes Dream Song.


The Muskrats play the biggest show of their lives at Madison Square Garden - Just for a Little While, Our Baby Rosie (Band), Swan Song. It’s going remarkably well, until Dave starts an argument with the sound engineer during Song in D - he blows up and runs off stage. Katie is furious, follows him back to the hotel, but Dave knows exactly how to handle his best friend. He calms her down with some tea and a game of Monopoly... And for the first time, they communicate clearly what they want in life, and the likelihood of marriage and children. They sit very close on the couch, and fall asleep together. The band, now very drunk, enter and run through a new song - Trip Down Sunset. The next morning, Keith has a meeting with Katie to discuss a possible solo contract with Sony.

Conflicted, Katie runs away, and calls Dave. . . .

Trip Downtown
Our Baby Rosie
By Yourself
The Boy
Song in D
Dream Song
Just for a Litte While
Trip Down Sunset
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