Leaping & Living

Leaping & Living

A New One-Act Musical with Music and Lyrics by Janet Preus and Dieter Frank And Book by Terra Ziporyn

Leaping & Living is new one-act musical. While it targets verbal and emotional abuse, it is more about how a group of women recognize their own abusive relationships, come to terms with them, and make decisions about how to move forward with their lives.

It is not about “male-bashing,” and it is not depressing. It is, rather, full of what is joyful about self-discovery, and what is funny about seeing everyday situations in a new light. Sometimes it is painful, but the characters learn it is also worthwhile and ultimately satisfying to take control their own lives. It is, above all, a celebration of life’s possibilities.  

SYNOPSIS: The play weaves both representational and presentational elements together, with scenes, prose poems, songs, and direct address, in part with the help of the Emcee, a male character, transcending the chronology and space of the other characters’ lives. This convention is set in the opening prologue. In the first scene Kathy’s latest worthless lover has just stood her up—again—leaving Kathy in her usual vulnerable position—no money, and precious little self-esteem. (I NEED A SAVIOR) Stevie, her tomboy girlfriend, stops by to fix Kathy’s leaky toilet, and cheers her up with a lesson on what men really want. (GET HIM A BACKHOE)

Kathy and daughter, Marigold; Lily and daughter, Annie; Paloma, Stevie, and Tess forge new friendships, and strengthen existing ones, at the Early Riser Cafe, run by the irrepressible Paloma. She has finally realized her dream of running her own restaurant. (THE EARLY RISER CAFEafter a painful separation from her philandering and controlling husband, Diego.

Three scenes follow depicting the abuse with which Paloma, Tess, and Lily lived. One might wonder why they stay with their husbands – a question addressed in CONCRETE SHOES.

The prose poems “Lies”, delivered by the Emcee, “The Room” and “The Crazies” delivered by the three women as a speaking chorus, provide glimpses beyond the perfectly normal-looking veneer, and into the dark world of abuse.

The husbands – Clark (Lily), Diego (Paloma), and Ted (Tess) – provide some comic relief with the satirical soft-shoe, IT FEELS SO GOOD WHEN YOU FEEL SO BAD.

When Lily decides to leave Clark, and dust off her art school paint box, she also transforms herself from a rather plain housewife into a strikingly handsome woman, and is promptly swept off her feet by a new man. In THE NEW MOON she admits it’s too soon, but she’s in love with love. On a rare evening out with old friends, she’s confronted with the altered dynamic among the three-some. Everyone is uncomfortable. (DINNER WITH FRIENDS)

Annie, a stellar student, but 16 going on 25; and Marigold, the quintessential alternative teen, have been assigned a school project together and are surprised to discover they have much in common – never mind their mothers’ budding friendship at the Early Riser, where Kathy is finally gainfully employed as a waitress, and Lily is painting a mural. Annie’s lack of compassion for her mother belies her deep sense of justice for Marigold’s plight in YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT SHE’S BEEN THROUGH.

Bolstered by her friends at the cafe, Kathy has found the strength to face her chronic situational depression head on, packs up the last traces of her long-gone boyfriend, and musters some real attitude in AT LEAST I’M RID OF YOU.

Lily’s new love has since crashed and burned, but, of course, she’s not the first one to fall for the wrong guy, or just end up with the short end of the stick. Her friends share similar stories in BETTER LOOKIN’ THAN YOU.

Although Lily is doing ok, she feels estranged from Annie, who seems to be handling the pain of her parent’s separation, and her father’s abuse by distancing herself from the people who love her most. (I LOVE YOU, ANNIE)

At the beginning of the play, Kathy sang “the future looks better, but it’s hardly bright.” Things are a step up from that for our group of protagonists; they’re stronger, more at peace with themselves, and far less isolated than they were. Paloma takes the lead with her cheery ESTOY AQUI.

There is reason to hope for more good things. The characters again step out of the world of the play, address the audience, and take their bows. (AND WE BELIEVE)

About the Writers



Janet Preus Director of Theater at the Fergus Falls Community College in Minnesota and has produced one CD, entitled “Hersongs.” In addition to popular music, Janet writes musicals and light opera. Her touching song, “I Love You, Annie,” from Leaping & Living, won First Place in the Pop category of the Great American Song Contest 2000.



Terra Ziporyn is a playwright, fiction writer, and the award-winning author of numerous health and science books including The Harvard Guide to Women’s Health and Alternative Medicine for Dummies. Currently a member of the Theatre Building of Chicago’s Writers Workshop, she graduated from Yale University, where she studied playwriting with Ted Tally, and then completed a Ph.D. in the history of science at the University of Chicago. Terra has participated in both the Bread Loaf Writers Conference and the Old Chatham Writers Conference and has won numerous awards and fellowships for both fiction and science writing, including short story awards from Writer’s Digest Magazine and the Chicago Literary Review, a AAAS Mass Media Science Writing Fellowship, and an Artist Development Grant from the Vermont Council on the Arts.  Her plays include Wally’s Playhouse, authored with Jim Hughes and Will Graveman (produced and presented at Theatre Building Chicago) and The Teacup (produced at Yale University).


Leaping & Living  was developed at the Theatre Building Chicago’s Musical Theatre Workshop, a group devoted to creating new musical theatre and which has nurtured works that have gone on to presentation in Chicago, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Seattle, as well as international arenas.