A locally written and directed musical is coming to the Chilkat Center in Haines this weekend. “Rusty Compass, Dusty Rose” features more than 20 performers who help tell a story of love, regret and redemption, that finds its way into the underworld.
“This is an original musical I wrote, called Rusty Compass, Dusty Rose – no relation to the local coffee shop,” says Hannah Bochart at one of the last rehearsals of her production.
Bochart’s sister Merrick is directing.
“It’s a family production, it’s 100 percent local production, which is nice,” says Bochart. “We’ve got all our local performers, local music, local art.”
There are a few different themes woven into the story.
“It’s sort of a story of love and romance and seizing the day,” says Bochart. “When you have the opportunity to tell someone you love them you seize the day.”
The production tells the story of a man named Eli, played by Nicholas Szatkowski.
“Who struck a bargain with death when he was a young man,” says Bochart. “To let it give him 15 years to find someone who will say ‘I love you.’ And if he finds that person within 15 years he gets to live. If he doesn’t, he goes into the underworld with death.”
Time goes by and he falls in love with a woman named Patch.
“And it seems that she’s in love with him as well but she just refuses to say it,” says Bochart. “So his time is up and he goes into the underworld. And she learns of this and feeling guilty and realizing that she missed her opportunity she makes her own bargain with death to travel through the underworld and try to win him back.”
Clara Weishahn, a childhood friend of the Bochart’s, plays the leading role.
“I play Patch, says Weishahn,” “It’s a really wonderful character to play because early on in the play she does something that she deeply regrets. And it takes her the rest of the story to come to terms with that.”
Weishahn performs professionally, working in plays on the East Coast. She says this role is a rare opportunity.
“To play a role where you make a terrible choice and then somehow it’s like superman who gets to fly around the planet and go back in time, Patch goes into the underworld to rewrite what happened,” says Weishahn. “To try to change fate, and to redeem herself and to save someone she dearly loves.”
Bochart says the story is derived from different American and European folklore and myths.
“It’s loosely based on the Greek myth of Psyche and Eros,” says Bochart. “Sort of in that it follows a woman who falls in love with the god of love and she loses him so she has to go through a set of trials to try and win him back.”
She says one thing she was drawn to in that story is the powerful female lead.
“You rarely get in these old fairy tales the story where the woman is the hero,” says Bochart. “And it’s her job to challenge herself, to face the danger and to rescue her man in distress.”
Her story is set in America, around the 1930s.
Bochart says this story has been coming together for about 10 years. It’s not the first play she’s written. But it is the first full-length production she’s done in her hometown.
“I do believe the stakes are higher to do a show in your hometown, particularly a hometown this size,” says Bochart. “And it’s exciting, it’s nerve-racking, it’s fun.”
She says she’s enjoyed seeing the production come to life.
“I think it’s going to be a really unique show,” says Bochart. “And it’s a world premiere. How many chances do you get to come to a world premiere in Haines, Alaska?”
The show starts at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Chilkat Center.