Meet Three Of The Musical Writing Teams Behind 'Breathe: A New Musical'

Recently three of the musical writing teams behind BREATHE, a new musical joined iHeartRadio Broadway's SJ Arnegger to talk about working on a production in the time of COVID-19. BREATHE, conceived by New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult (theatrical debut) and playwright Timothy Allen McDonald follows five couples grappling with the virus’s impact on their lives, families, relationships, society, and health. Told in five interlocking suites BREATHE features a scores from different composers, including longtime songwriting duo Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich (Ever After), Rob Rokicki (Lighting Thief) and Rebecca Murillo (Not Quite Extinct), Daniel Mertzlufft and Kate Leonard (Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical), Doug Besterman (Little Did I Know) and Sharon Vaughn (Hats!) and Jonathan Larson Grant Finalists Douglas Lyons and Ethan Pakchar (Five Points). To coincide with the premiere of BREATHE on Overture+, the full cast album will be available for purchase via Broadway Records on May 14. BREATHE features an all-star cast that includes Tony Award-winners Kelli O’Hara and Brian Stokes Mitchell, Patti Murin, Colin Donnell, Denée Benton, Rubén J. Carbajal, Matt Doyle, Max Clayton, Daniel Yearwood, T. Oliver Reid and Josh Davis.

Tickets to stream Breathe (starting at $25) are available at and will be available to stream on OVERTURE+ beginning May 14 through July 2, 2021. The Original Cast Recording of Breathe will be released by Broadway Records on May 14 and available everywhere digital music is sold, and Music Theatre International will be licensing the show worldwide this summer.

Under the supervising direction of Tony Award nominee Jeff Calhoun, Breathe was filmed in March 2021 at the 92 Street Y’s Kaufmann Concert Hall in New York City without an audience, in compliance with all New York State safety regulations. For most of the cast and crew, this marked their return to the stage and in-person performance since Broadway shut down on March 12, 2020.

FEVER, starring Denée Benton & Rubén J. Carbajal

Music & Lyrics: Rob Rokicki & Rebecca Murillo

Book: Rob Rokicki, Rebecca Murillo, Jodi Picoult, Timothy Allen Mcdonald

Story: Jodi Picoult & Timothy Allen Mcdonald

Director: Emily Maltby

In Fever, a young woman’s one-night stand extends far longer than expected.

ACHES, starring Matt Doyle & Max Clayton

Music: Daniel Mertzlufft

Lyrics: Kate Leonard

Book & Story: Jodi Picoult & Timothy Allen Mcdonald

Director: Joe Barros

In Aches, a couple re-examines their relationship.

SWELLING & IRRITATION, starring Patti Murin & Colin Donnell

Music: Doug Besterman                    

Lyrics: Sharon Vaughn

Book & Story: Jodi Picoult & Timothy Allen Mcdonald

Director: Lorin Latarro

In Swelling & Irritation, a dual-career couple homeschool their children.

FATIGUE, starring Josh Davis, T. Oliver Reid, Daniel Yearwood

Music: Ethan Pakchar & Douglas Lyons

Lyrics & Book: Douglas Lyons

Story: Douglas Lyons, Jodi Picoult, Timothy Allen Mcdonald

Director: Zhailon Levingston

In Fatigue, a Black policeman finds himself weighing his career against the passions of his son, a grassroots organizer.

SHORTNESS OF BREATH, starring Kelli O’Hara & Brian Stokes Mitchell

Music: Zina Goldrich   

Lyrics: Marcy Heisler

Book & Story: Jodi Picoult & Timothy Allen Mcdonald

Director: Jeff Calhoun

In Shortness of Breath, a widow searches for closure.

The Orchestra was produced and recorded by Dan Rudin, with orchestrations and arrangements by Lynne Shankel and Meg Zervoulis serving as Music Supervisor.