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‘Not In My Town’ World Premiere

This musical drama highlights the events surrounding the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard.


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In this scene from "Not In My Town," Romaine Patterson (Robyn Marie Lamp), her girlfriend Olivia (Ravenna Maer) and Matthew Shepard (Ryan Townsend) talk about college, work and more before Shepard goes alone to the Fireside Lounge, which leads to his murder.

F.S. Hindle

At the end of September, Opera Fusion Inc. in South Florida will premiere its full production of the Matthew Shepard musical drama Not In My Town.

Written by composer and librettist Michael W. Ross in 2013, Not In My Town tells the story of the events surrounding the 1998 murder of Shepard, the gay Wyoming college student who was beaten and left tied to a fence.

The heroine of Not In My Town is Romaine Patterson, Shepard’s friend and now an LGBTQA rights activist. She organized counter protests, with peaceful protesters clad in angel-wing costumes that blocked hate mongers and their signs, after the Westboro Baptist Church and Rev. Fred Phelps began picketing Shepard’s funeral and the subsequent trial of his killers.

Patterson said, “It is so imperative that works like Not In My Town be shared to ensure that people understand the real impact of bias crimes in America. Matthew wanted to live his life helping others. We must all learn from Matthew’s story, and strive to be more kind to one another.”

This musical drama is the ‘perfect fit’ for Opera Fusion. According to Opera Fusion Executive Director Birgit Fioravante, “From my point of view this work has everything a new ‘opera’ should have – great music, great drama, a riveting story.”

The title is a major confrontation scene and “the crux of the show”, said composer and librettist Ross. “There are parallels to other civil rights movements – bullying and prejudice of all types can happen anywhere. My subjects involve themes of social injustice and are very personal to me.”

Not In My Town addresses bullying with Opera Fusion president Xavier Garcia highlighting that it is a subject that is in the news every day. “Our kids are bullied constantly and they are either killed, or they commit suicide or they are scarred for life. Matthew was killed because he was gay, but Matthew is anyone who has been affected by a hate crime.”

“There are many ways in which we can carry this message,” said Garcia. “Ours is through our music, through our voices. We need our voices to be heard if we are to make a change in this world.”

More Information

First Weekend

When: 7PM Saturday September 24 , and 3PM Sunday September 25, 2016

Where: University Theatre, Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton Campus, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton

Tickets: $20 via OperaFusion.org

Second Weekend

When: 8PM Friday September 30, and 8PM Saturday October 1, 2016

Where: The Amaturo Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale

Tickets: From $35 via OperaFusion.org

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