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040915i-The-Big-One

Earthquakes haven’t been a big concern here since 1755, when a quake off Cape Ann might have been as big as 6.3 on the Richter scale. But smaller noticeable shocks in 2011 and 2012 have at least reminded us they’re a threat – and now there’s “The Big One,” whose epicenter is Lesley University.

In this musical play by Liv Cummins, an associate professor of drama and creative writing at Lesley, and Sandy McKnight, a comedy writer and pop songwriter, a group of aspiring Los Angeles songwriters gets their chance of a lifetime just as tremors warn of a quake that threatens to destroy the city around them. And they stay.

“The show uses comedic characters and catchy songs to explore themes of community and the life – and struggles – of an artist,” Cummins said.

Cummins and McKnight wrote the show based on their own experiences in a songwriting workshop in L.A., where they met in the 1990s. “There were some real characters in our class,” Cummins said, “and when the Northridge quake hit, we were all pretty shook up. We started thinking a story about these people in this crazy world of L.A. would make a great musical.”

040915i-The-Big-One-logoThis is the New England premiere for “The Big One,” and 14 Lesley students make up the cast, working with four professional designers behind the scenes: scenic designer Liv Joyce and costume designer Kathryn Schondek, both of the Huntington Theatre; and Matthew Breton as lighting and sound designer and Elena Blyskal as musical director.

“The talent and dedication of the creative team sets a great example for the student cast and crew, many of whom are considering theater as a career path,” Cummins said.

Cummins has written the book and lyrics for musicals produced across the country. Two of her pieces were seen in New York last year: “Vanishing Point,” her musical co-written with Robert Hartmann and Scott Keys exploring the lives and disappearances of Amelia Earhart, Aimee Semple-McPherson and Agatha Christie; and her piece about the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, “The Bridge,” written with composer Matt Marks.

“The Big One” is at Lesley University’s Marran Theater, 34 Mellen St., in the Agassiz neighborhood near Harvard Square. Performances are 7:30 p.m. tonight through Saturday and and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10 general admission, or $5 students. Information is here.

This post took significant amounts of material from a press release.