Article by Jen Bush
Jarlath Barsanti Jacobs is a is a multi-award-winning copywriter for major NYC agencies, specializing in lyrics. She got a tingle writing jingles and jumped ship to climb on board the theater train. She has good taste in the composers too. “I’m a Sondheim freak who jumped from the world of advertising jingles to theater.” In her version of life, there is less despair and more unicorns and rainbows that translates into her work. “My mission is to lighten the load of life. I write about the world as it should be or try to soften the blow of life as it is.” It helps to have likeminded talented people to work with. “I was lucky enough to find two collaborators who offer simpatico and great talent. Emilio for music. Fred for direction.” He musical, Fire Island combines wonderful elements with themes of love and equity. Fire Island is full of romance, beauty, heart and fun. “ It’s a summer fun musical with a darker tone of realism underneath as it takes place at the height of the AIDS crisis and zooms forward 22 years to the day gay marriage became legal. It is the story of a straight couple and a gay couple. In the same shared beach house in a summer that changes everything. The theme is “love is for everyone”. Gays and straights together. As it should be.”
FIRE ISLAND THE MUSICAL brings us to the famed Long Island retreat on June 24, 2011 – the historic day same sex marriage became legal. Gay housemates of Gabe and Anne (who almost
married but didn’t – on that same beach many years ago) are having a wedding and house reunion.
Gabe and Anne are invited. She has arrived. But will he? Cn love lost get a second chance?
“FIRE ISLAND brings all the romance, summer love and beach fun to the stage that you would expect to see in a musical set here,” says producer Cate Cammarata, who has been watching this show develop over the last several years. “The real Fire Island is such a special place for many people, both personally and historically. It played a real role in its crusade against the AIDS epidemic in the 80’s, which many people don’t know. I’m so happy that detail found its way into the musical. And of course, the Horace Gifford architecture is extraordinary – which set designer Richard Ouellette captured so well. The July 4th Invasion scene is not to be missed!”
Emilio Solla won a 2020 Grammy for the album, Puertos and Jarlath Barsanti Jacobs is a multi-award-winning copywriter for major NYC agencies, specializing in lyrics.
Audiences are loving FIRE ISLAND THE MUSICAL! Grammy-winner Emilio Solla and Jarlath Barsanti Jacobs’s musical a hit at Create Theater’s New Work Festival on Theatre Row, running through May 14 at 410 West 42nd St. (Theater Four) Directed & choreographed by Fred C.L. Mann III with musical direction by Trevor M. Pierce. Richard Ouellette designed the set; Anthony Paul-Cavaretta created the costumes; and Michael Cole designed the lighting. The production features projections by Peter Leibold VI and Paul Deziel. Jesica Garrou is production stage manager.
Inspiration can strike at any time. Inspiration struck Ms. Jacobs when she parlayed her vacation experiences into this wonderful production. “Inspiration is my many years of summer life on Fire Island. When I first came to NYC I noticed that the city emptied out like a balloon on summer weekends. Where did they go? I joined a share house one summer and had a blast. I continued that for 10 years until I married and moved to the Hamptons. But I still visit every year. There’s no place like it on earth.”
Ms. Jacobs creative process involves some anxiety but, in the end, she gets the job done. “My process is to procrastinate and fret until I get tired of it. Then I jump in and
barrel through.” Her creative process involves collaboration. “With composer, Emilio Solla, I ofen write an A section and then we take it from there.” Humor plays a large part in the process and enhances the end product. “I like to have fun, laugh. If it’s not there on the page it won’t be in the performance. Fred Mann III – dramaturge – is great fun to work with. When I do the actual writing I must be alone.”
Sometimes creative folks must tread more carefully with productions that contain serious or topically charged subject matter. Ms. Jacobs prefers to present the subject matter with more gentleness toward the audience.” I feel responsible first not to lay darkness onto people. It’s a musical, not a newscast. I want to relieve people from the stress even if there is darkness in the story. My job is to entertain. But with honesty. My first writing coach said to me: “the most important thing is ‘do I believe it?”
The pandemic hit every industry hard. Thankfully, during the pandemic, Ms. Jacobs was able to carry on with her creative endeavors. “I’m trying to put the pandemic behind me. I was lucky. I was working on a play about Audrey Hepburn the first year, then wrote Fire Island the rest of the time. I just kept the task at hand uppermost in mind and barreled on. The pandemic made us all feel powerless.
The writing made me feel like I had at least some control.”
In addition to other projects on the horizon, Ms Jacobs would like to light a fire under Fire Island The Musical and take it as far as it can go. “We all want to take Fire Island The Musical as far as it can go. And produce the other projects I”ve written: Lunch at Audrey’s. Miracolo the Musical – takes place in Italy = another passion of mine.”