Book and Lyrics
Dead Reckoning is a new Canadian musical with book and lyrics by Lezlie Wade and music by Scott Christian. It is written for five female actors and focusses on the life of Amelia Earhart and the true story of the teenage girl who received Amelia’s final distress signal.
Thematically, Dead Reckoning explores the impact people have on our lives through acts of courage, tenacity and strength. The challenges facing Amelia Earhart as a trailblazer, as well as those faced by Betty Klenck struggling through adolescence to find her unique voice within societal norms, are themes as relevant today as they were then.
Full Musical Synopsis: In 1937, fifteen-year-old Betty Klenck is struggling with her sense of identity. Bullied in school for being “different natured from everyone else” she finds solace in the person of Amelia Earhart and the possibilities she offers to the future of young women. When Betty’s mother dies, she sinks into depression. Her father, desperate for a way to help her, sets up a short-wave radio in her room. At night, Betty finds solace imagining the far away voices scrambled with static belong to her mother. When Betty hears Amelia Earhart’s distress signal on the night of her fateful last flight, she persuades her father to alert the authorities. But who will take a 15-year-old girl seriously?—
Video Adaptation Credits
Director, Book and Lyrics
Composer and Producer
Creative Producer and Director of Photography
Alicia Barban, Aisha Jarvis, Sara Shanazarian
Dead Reckoning is written by award-winning writer, lyricist and director Lezlie Wade; and award-winning composer and musical director Scott Christian. They have been writing together since first collaborating in 2016, as part of Theatre 20’s Composium Writers Collective in Toronto. Dead Reckoning features a cast of five emerging professional female actors, all of whom have trained and worked extensively in musical theatre in Canada. Musically, is a narrative song cycle, comprising solo, duet and group songs as well as dramatic monologues and scenes. The music combines elements of 1930’s jazz, contemporary musical theatre, and western art music.
The piece has been adapted as a 30 min video adaptation (out of the 90 min theatre version) and encompasses a first act arc depicting the struggles Amelia and Betty face, and the prevailing opinions of the general public. It will also live as an audio-only version that reflects the traditional ‘Radio Play’ format, which is a throwback to one of the primary forms of entertainment available to people during the time that Dead Reckoning is set (the 1930’s). This echoes the importance of radio in the piece itself – Amelia Earhart’s cockpit radio system, and Betty’s bedroom Ham radio set.
The full musical will be workshopped in the spring of 2020 with a premiere in the 2021-2022 season.