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Meet The Composers of Freedom Riders: The Civil Rights Musical Richard Allen and Taran Gray

Meet The Composers of Freedom Riders: The Civil Rights Musical Richard Allen and Taran Gray

If you’ve followed the New York Theatre Festival circuit the last five years, or you’ve seen the viral social media rehearsal footage of high notes and harmonic excellence on TikTok, chances are you’ve been patiently waiting for the Freedom Riders: The Civil Rights Musical to come out with an album. Thanks to Broadway Records and New York Theatre Barn Records, the wait is over. 

T2c talked to Richard Allen and Taran Gray, the creators of the award-winning Freedom Riders: The Civil Rights Musical. They shared how they released an 18-song world premiere recording in its entirety on November 19th. 

“This is a dream come true for us.” Richard Allen says, “both Taran and I grew up listening to musical soundtracks. It was a pillar of our theater community growing up to be able to experience a show in this way when a ticketed performance wasn’t readily available. It’s how we fell in love with so many productions.” 

Allen and Gray’s Freedom Riders: The Civil Rights Musical tells the true story of the college age activists who boldly challenge the legality and optics of the Jim Crow Laws in 1961 by riding buses in mixed groups through the South; a soaring portrait of the fearless voices who used nonviolent direct action to initiate change. The show won the 2016 Beta Award at the New York Musical Festival. The show returned to the festival the following year and took home the award for “Outstanding Music” as well as a special honors award for “Social Impact and Relevance”. The 2017 Festival production was visited by Congressman John Lewis who said of the show, “extremely accurate. It brought tears to my eyes.”

Video by Magda Katz

Music

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

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