In the dynamic world of theater, a Colorado musical finds its way to New York

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11min 54sec
Rebecca Michaelson Photography
Cast members during the New York City workshop presentation of In The Trenches in October, 2023.

The journey of a new musical from concept to stage is an exhilarating adventure, one that just keeps going as the stages get bigger.

"In the Trenches," a show born from the lived experiences of Colorado-based couple Kristina and Graham Fuller, is ready to take its place Off-Broadway in the heart of New York City. But how did the show begin?

"It was our way of processing the amazing, messy, wonderful, and heart-wrenching experience of new parenthood," said Kristina Fuller. "We felt many of the things happening to us were very universal and we needed to write it out."

The Fullers' relatable and comedic take on parenthood struck an immediate chord. After a concert performance at Feinstein's 54 Below in New York, they caught the attention of producers Amber Coates and Maxwell Haddad.

"Before the end of the first number, we turned to each other — ‘this is really great,’" Coates recalled.

Haddad added, "The songs were extraordinary, complex, catchy, bop after bop - it just really moved me and made me laugh."

Fueled by their shared vision, the Fullers brought "In the Trenches" to its first full staging in January 2023 at the Town Hall Arts Center in Colorado. This production was a pivotal testing ground.

"Seeing it staged was a big deal," said Coates. "We looked at each other — ‘this is amazing.’"

Alexander Rivero Photography
Kristina and Graham Fuller at a concert performance of their show "In the Trenches" at 54 Below in New York City in July 2022.

In addition to writing the book, music, and lyrics, the Fullers also starred in that first production. Graham played “Dad,” and Kristina played “Mom.” 

Following the success in Littleton, "In the Trenches" returned to New York for a staged reading in March 2023, followed by a two-week workshop in the fall of the same year. These developmental iterations allowed the team to refine and shape the show, with director and choreographer Jen Wineman coming on board to lend her expertise.

Wineman's directorial vision brought a fresh perspective to "In the Trenches," leading to the addition of a new song, "Behind," during the workshop. "Graham and Christina took that prompt and created one of my favorite songs I've ever heard," said Wineman.

Now, with auditions underway, "In the Trenches" prepares for its Off-Broadway premiere late summer.

"We're full steam ahead gearing up towards what will be an extraordinary summer," said Haddad.

For the Fullers, the journey proves that new musicals can be nurtured locally before taking off.

"Colorado audiences invest in new works — it is possible," said Graham.

Kristina added, "The theater world in Colorado is incredible… our people are amazing too."

From the early days of processing parenthood to the bright lights of New York City, this relatable story with Colorado roots demonstrates the power of perseverance and collaboration. A new American musical is being born.