CCM alumni unite to create new musical 'With Beckett'

Broadway professionals Jessica Hendy and Richard Oberacker collaborate on one-woman show

Two UC College-Conservatory of Music alums from the college’s theatre arts division come together to create a new musical. Jessica Hendy (BFA Musical Theatre, ‘93) and Richard Oberacker (BFA Acting, ‘93) are currently collaborating on With Becket, a one-woman show about a mother's resilience and determination. Watch a demo teaser of the upcoming musical.

In an interview with Cincinnati Magazine, Hendy shares that the two Broadway stars were first introduced in Cincinnati during a community theater production of Baby in her junior year of high school. They both later enrolled at CCM, with Hendy in the BFA Musical Theatre program and Oberacker in the BFA Acting program.

Video link: https://www.youtube.com/embed/A79jdD1M3ZY?rel=0

After graduation, Hendy moved to New York City to pursue her Broadway dreams. In 1999, she made her debut on the Great White Way in the original cast of the Cats chorus and as understudy for Grizabella, belting the character’s iconic ballad “Memory.” She is the only individual to have performed in the original Broadway run, in the national tour and in the revival of Cats.

A headshot of Richard Oberacker

Richard Oberacker.

Oberacker has become a successful conductor, composer and lyricist. His conducting credits include Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion and (Las Vegas), national tours of The Lion King, Show Boat, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Music of the Night and Cats. Most recently, Oberacker wrote the music, book and lyrics for Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Bandstand: The New American Musical and he composed the score for a musical adaptation of The Great Gatsby, which premiered in Japan in 2017. He is also working on Bruce, an upcoming musical about the filming of Steven Spielberg's 1975 classic Jaws.

When Broadway shutdown in March 2019 due to the pandemic, countless performers, composers, conductors and theatre artists found themselves out of work. While attempting to handle the shock from this change, Hendy decided that this was going to be the time for her to work on a project of her own. She told Cincinnati Magazine: “If there’s one thing I’ve learned from show business, it’s that you have to have persistence. You have to believe when there is no belief to be had.”

Jessica Hendy headshot

Jessica Hendy. Photo by Michael Kushner.

When Broadway shut down in March 2019 due to the pandemic, countless performers, composers, conductors, and theatre artists found themselves out of work. While attempting to handle the shock from this change, Hendy decided that this was going to be the time for her to work on a project of her own. She told Cincinnati Magazine: “If there’s one thing I’ve learned from show business, it’s that you have to have persistence. You have to believe when there is no belief to be had.”

This project is intended to portray Hendy’s struggles as a single mother raising her son Beckett. Based on Hendy’s memoir, With Beckett is a personal one-woman musical that shares her story of a woman living her dream — a career in the big city and a perfect marriage — when her husband begins to suffer an inexplicable mental decline that slides into a terrifying psychotic break with reality. She is left with her young son to navigate a seemingly impossible new landscape with few resources other than an irrepressible sense of humor and a mother's determination.  It features a book by Hendy, with Robert Taylor and Richard Oberacker, music by Richard Oberacker and lyrics by Robert Taylor and Richard Oberacker.

The show is still in its building stages. The goal is to have a musical that can be performed when audiences can enjoy it safely. For more information about the show, visit the project’s website.


Featured image at the top: Jessica Hendy and her son. Photo/"With Becket" demo teaser.

Headshot of Kelly Barefield

Kelly Barefield

CCM Graduate Assistant, Marketing + Communications

Kelly Barefield is pursuing her degree in Arts Administration at CCM. She currently interns at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and hopes to continue to work at influential arts organizations in the future, where she can apply her passion for music.