The Singing School
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James Domine’s play, “The Singing School,” set in colonial Boston circa 1715, is a romantic story of magic and music with American Gothic overtones. A rich background of New England historical themes: religion, witchcraft, royal tyranny and Queen Anne’s War with the French and Indians are cunningly wrought into a complex tapestry of love and death. The seafaring commercial trade and agricultural resources of a prosperous new land are threatened by smallpox, corruption and superstition. Ghosts of the past are conjured up in a startlingly relevant contemporary presence. A large cast includes main characters Cotton Mather, a Congregationalist minister, Governor Joseph Dudley, his arch-nemesis and representative of the British Crown, James Green, a musical reformer and Jabez Stone, as wealthy as he is libertine. Balancing the female side of the cast are Catherine and Abigail Mather, dissimilarly beautiful if quarrelsome sisters, Elizabeth, the lovely and talented beer-wench of the tavern, and the Witch of Endor who lives in a secret cave by a terebinth tree. Other characters representing the scope and color of life in early 18th century Massachusetts enrich the plot, telling of events surrounding the controversial establishment of a singing school, where conflict flares between Protestant morality and unbridled young lust. Philosophy, poetry, politics and punishment, the four essential “p”s of all Domine’s plays, are amply in evidence in The Singing School.