Everything is Okay (and other helpful lies)

Written and Composed by Melissa Crum & Caitlin Lewins, 2016/2017 Nord Family Foundation Catapult Fellows. Directed by Matthew Wright.

October 20, 2018 - November 10, 2018

7:00pm, Thu/Fri/Sat/Mon, James Levin Theatre. Previews October 20 & 25. Opening Night is October 26.

90 min with an intermission

In this hot mess musical, a group of close friends struggles to navigate the tragedies of life. Guided by poor decision-making and maybe too much alcohol, these buddies try anything to find happiness while the ties of friendship fray. This dark musical comedy is a celebration of the not-so-happy ways in which we persevere, grow, and change—whether we want to or not. Cheers! World Premiere.

Featuring: Melissa Crum, Madelyn Hayes, Caitlin Lewins, Joshua McElroy, Matt O’Shea, and Jerry Tucker.

The James Levin Theatre is fully ADA compliant featuring a patron elevator and an all gender, wheelchair accessible restroom.

Previews: $15
Standard Price (Monday, Thursday): $15
Standard Price (Friday, Saturday): $35

Everything is Okay (and other helpful lies) is sold out for:
Saturday 10/20
Thursday 10/25
Friday 10/26

For all sold-out performances, we encourage you to arrive early and join our waiting list in the box office starting at 6:00pm.

The Creative Production Team Includes:

Raymond Bobgan – Producer & Dramaturgical Support
Buck McDaniel, 2018/2019 Kulas Theatre Composer Fellow – Music Director, Orchestrator, Arranger
Sarah Lynne Bailey – Stage Manager
Aaron Benson – Scenic Designer
Benjamin Gantose – Lighting Designer
Nina Rossi – Choreographer
Dan Schumacher – Sound Board Operator
Cyrus Taylor – Sound Designer
Jaclyn Vogel – Costume Designer
Chris DeMarco – Bass
John Karkosiak – Guitar
Matthew Gerhardinger – Percussion

Research and development collaborators include Ashley Aquilla, Sean Booker, Luke Brett, Chennelle Bryant-Harris, Roderick S. Caldwell III, Chelsea Jordan Cannon, Sara Chapman, Craig J. George, Brenton Sullivan, and Jonathan Walker White.

ARRANGEMENTS BY: Melissa Crum & Caitlin Lewins, Buck McDaniel, Tim Moon

Remarkable Rating:


About Co-Writer and Co-Composer Melissa Crum

Melissa is a Cleveland-based performer, director, writer, and educator. She currently holds a position as a Staff Teaching Artist with Playhouse Square and is passionate about arts education and its role within our growing community. Recently, Melissa served as Education Associate at Dobama Theatre, and has been a Teaching Artist with Cleveland Play House, Great Lakes Theater, The Musical Theatre Project, and Cleveland Public Theatre’s Brick City Theatre Program. Melissa received the 2016/2017 Nord Family Foundation Playwright Fellowship through Cleveland Public Theatre, where she and co-writer & co-composer Caitlin Lewins developed Everything is Okay (and other helpful lies). Melissa completed the 2013/2014 Joan Yellen Horvitz Director Fellowship at Cleveland Public Theatre where she directed The Drowning Girls. Cleveland Stage Credits include 44 Plays For 44 Presidents, Air Waves (Part Three of the Elements Cycle), Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant, The Loush Sisters DO the Nutcracker, Earth Plays (Part Two of the Elements Cycle), Tender Napalm, Two Plays by Gao Xingjian (CPT), and Loki and Lucy (Talespinner Children’s Theatre). Melissa has directed locally at Dobama Theatre (Peter and the Starcatcher; remount, production by Nathan Motta), Talespinner Children’s Theatre (The Crocodile, The Cobra, and the Girl Down the Well), True North Cultural Arts (Falling), and CPT (The Drowning Girls, The Waters—A Nord Fellowship Reading, Style is The Answer to Everything—A Nord Fellowship Reading). Crum has also directed and co-created several short works at CPT including: Bags of Air which appeared in Air Waves (Part Three of the Elements Cycle), The Natural Order of Things which appeared in Earth Plays (Part Two of the Elements Cycle), and Seppuku (Big Box ’10). Melissa studied Directing Devised Theatre and Theatre Creation under the tutelage of Raymond Bobgan, and holds a BA in Theatre Arts from Cleveland State University.

About Co-Writer and Co-Composer Caitlin Lewins

Caitlin Lewins is a performer, writer, director, designer/crafter, and musician. Caitlin was awarded a 2016/2017 Nord Family Foundation Playwright Fellowship, culminating in the World Premiere of Everything is Okay (and other helpful lies), a dark musical comedy co-written and co-composed with Melissa Crum. Caitlin joined the CPT staff in the fall of 2013 as Story Connector, became New Play Associate in the summer of 2014, and transitioned into her current role as Director of Audience Engagement & Media Relations in 2017. Caitlin completed the 2013/2014 Joan Yellen Horvitz Director Fellowship which culminated in the production Left in Ink which she conceived, directed, and co-created. Previously at CPT, Caitlin co-directed (with Dan Kilbane) and music directed 44 Plays For 44 Presidents and created The Cleveland Line Dance as a part of Light the Lights, Ol’ Moses CLE! (A Wild Holiday Romp). Caitlin line produced Entry Point (A New Play Development Program), four Road to Hope events in the Spring of 2016, line produced The Santaland Diaries at Playhouse Square and the Nord Family Foundation Playwright Reading Series, directed Canon Fodder—a Nord Fellowship Reading, music directed Frankenstein’s Wake, and assistant directed/contributed to The Loush Sisters Love Dick’ns: Great Expectations. Caitlin co-created and directed Edison and Ford which appeared in Air Waves (Part Three of the Elements Cycle) and completed her third year in Raymond Bobgan’s Directing/Theatre Creation class. In the 2012/2013 season, Caitlin was Stage Manager/Assistant Director to Raymond Bobgan for Rusted Heart Broadcast and made her writing/directing debut at CPT with The Environmented in Earth Plays (Part Two of the Elements Cycle). Recent/favorite performances include Everything is Okay (and other helpful lies) (Entry Point 2018, Test Flight 2018); Light the Lights, Ol’ Moses CLE! (A Wild Holiday Romp); Red Ash Mosaic (workshop); She’s Wearing White…; Air Waves (Part Three of the Elements Cycle); Earth Plays (Part Two of the Elements Cycle); Bird Behind the Curtain (Big Box 2013); 13 Most American Dreams; Grizzly Mama; and The New Century. Caitlin is a graduate of Baldwin Wallace College, where she studied Theatre, Philosophy, and Music.

About Director Matthew Wright

Previously at CPT, Matthew directed Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play, Spirits to Enforce, and Iphigenia 2.0, and appeared in There Is a Happiness That Morning Is. Matthew’s work as a professional actor and director has been seen across the country at theatres such as La Jolla Playhouse, Studio Arena of Buffalo, The Clarence Brown Company, New Theater, Actor’s Playhouse, Caldwell Theatre, Florida Stage, Florida Studio Theatre, Coconut Grove, Great Lakes Theater, The Cleveland Play House, Dobama Theatre, Cleveland Public Theatre, and Beck Center for the Arts. In 1997 he won the Carbonnel Award for Best Actor (Miami area) for his portrayal of Prior Walter in Angels in America. More recently, he’s been cited by the Cleveland Critics Circle Awards for Superior Achievement in Directing in 2014 for Spirits to Enforce (CPT), and again in 2017 for Hand to God at Dobama Theatre. He was also cited by the Cleveland Critics Circle Awards for Superior Achievement as an Actor in 2013 for There Is a Happiness That Morning Is (CPT), and for Superior Achievement as an Actor in A Musical in 2016 for Ruthless at Beck Center for the Arts. A founding company member of Oberlin Summer Theater Festival, Matthew has appeared in numerous productions with the company since 2009. Upcoming projects include playing a cold, enigmatic mastermind in The Nether at Cleveland’s Dobama Theatre this spring. He has been a member of Actors’ Equity Association since 1988.


CPT Executive Artistic Director Raymond Bobgan and Co-Writer & Co-Composer Melissa Crum on WKYC

“The show is a rockin’ hot mess musical. It is dealing with some really tough stuff… theatre is there for us to think about our lives so we can live better and begin to answer those long questions about, ‘How do I live?’, ‘What is the purpose here?’, and our own calling.”

-Raymond Bobgan, CPT Executive Artistic Director

Click here or on the image for a behind-the-scenes glimpse into Everything is Okay (and other helpful lies) on WKYC’s Live on Lakeside.

Everything is Okay (and other helpful lies) in The Scene Magazine

“Despite the popularity of the medium with women, musical theatre, especially composition is dominated by white men. Before 1991, there had only been six female composers on Broadway, total. For two women to compose and stage a full-fledged musical is highly unusual, but in Cleveland it’s almost unheard of.”

-BJ Colangelo, The Scene Magazine

Click here or on the image to read the full article in The Scene Magazine.

A Note from Raymond

Our culture reinforces, in such an insidious way, an idea of normalcy and what it is to be normal.

This causes many of us to feel like we’re not—and in horrible ways—when actually, we all struggle internally… but we don’t talk about those inner narratives.

Everything is Okay (and other helpful lies) is a super funny, heartbreaking view of the social and interior life of a group of friends entering adulthood. And even if you’re already an adult, you can relate. When the lights go down and the show begins, you might think, “Oh, these people aren’t me. They have problems I don’t have.” But by the end you realize: these are problems we all face. One of the profound themes that’s portrayed beautifully in Everything is Okay (and other helpful lies) is that there’s this commonality we all experience as we navigate this life and come into who we are.

And, as emotionally touching as it is, it’s really freakin’ funny. Everything is Okay (and other helpful lies) is a dark, coming-of-age musical comedy for adults—a show I believe will have a life after CPT. It’s one of those pieces that people are going to lie about later and say they saw it the first time. It’s something you’re just not going to want to miss.

Raymond Bobgan
CPT Executive Artistic Director


“It’s not your run-of-the-mill musical.” -Matthew Wright, Director of Everything is Okay (and other helpful lies)

Everything is Okay (and other helpful lies) is a darkly comedic, beautifully musical exploration of what it means to face adulthood in a time and culture that has made it very difficult to be an adult.

It’s not your run-of-the-mill musical, nor is it a run-of-the-mill play. It’s really surprising, very funny, extremely moving, and irreverent… it’s unlike anything I’ve ever worked on. I think it’s super timely because it’s new, and I think it really reflects our diverse culture today.

The music is so unexpected and charming and wonderful. It’s beautiful, there are moments when it’s ugly, there are moments when it’s deeply reflective, there are moments when it’s wildly comedic and hysterical, but it’s unlike the music in any musical you’ve ever heard… [Everything is Okay (and other helpful lies)] is an unexpected treat.”

-Matthew Wright, Director of Everything is Okay (and other helpful lies)

Get a sneak peek… “Alone” from Everything is Okay (and other helpful lies)

Everything is Okay (and other helpful lies) nestles what we love about musicals—storytelling through song, dancing, dream sequences—next to difficult conversations in a way that’s sometimes funny, and other times a little more thought-provoking… (a few songs include “The Settling Song,” “SHAME,” and “Keep F*cking Going.”)

For a taste of what to expect, click here or on the orange button to watch an early version of “Alone.”


The evolution of a musical 3 years in the making

It all started with Pandemonium 2015: Transform…

“We knew we wanted to create something fun, so we decided to do a spin on the idea of the transformative power of lying to yourself.” -Melissa Crum

“We sat at Gypsy Beans & Baking Co. and wrote out a bunch of clever one lines about lies people tell themselves… ‘No One I Love is Going to Die Today,’ ‘I’m Not a Slut but You Are…’ etc. These lines ended up becoming the songs in our first Pandemonium piece.” -Caitlin Lewins

Everything is Okay (and other helpful lies) was then developed as part of CPT’s Nord Family Foundation Catapult Fellowship, which included showings at Entry Point 2017 & 2018, and Test Flight 2018. Short excerpts from work-in-progress versions of Everything is Okay (and other helpful lies) also appeared at Pandemonium 2017: UNLEASH.

About Catapult

The most extensive of CPT’s development programs, Catapult is intended to move projects from early to mid-development phase to being “production ready.” Each process is customized to the work. Projects may receive a series of staged readings, significant rehearsal time, and workshop productions. Catapult is funded by a multi-year grant from the Nord Family Foundation.

Made possible thanks to fellowships from…