WordPlay teen Lilly Gieseke debuted her first musical, A Tale of Two Friends, in April 2018—a culmination of over two years of writing script and music, running auditions, and directing that brought 11 performers from 6 high schools and over 150 audience members from across Cincinnati to the basement auditorium of Knox Church for an unforgettable evening.
Gieseke’s written and musical voice resonated in every phrase and well-paced beat of her play--a work of art about the humor and heartache of life. Throughout the evening, the audience witnessed the unfolding of a fantasy story written by two friends--a scientific minded Clara (Piper Johnson of Walnuts Hills High School) and her fantasy-oriented best friend David (Jonah Sorscher of Indian Hill High School).
As Clara and David argued about whether science and magic could co-exist (in the real world and their fantasy story), they learned how important each other’s perspectives were. And by the end of the play, both realized they wanted to live in a world where they could believe in both the soundness of logic and the magic of optimism.
To say the play’s humor was a hit with the audience would be an understatement, as they laughed and cheered for each of the characters’ entrances, theme songs, and the actors’ endearing personalizing of their roles.
That’s not all Gieseke accomplished through the debut performance of A Tale of Two Friends. She decided to make the evening a fundraiser, earning more than $1,200 as a donation for WordPlay Cincy, the reading, writing and storytelling nonprofit that she has been a part of for several years.
Gieseke explained, “WordPlay is a special kind of place. People take charge of their own words and stories. They learn to be themselves as honestly as possible. And I love it for that.” Through her fundraising, Lilly extended the opportunity for other children, teens and young adults to grow through WordPlay programs and workshops as well.
Libby Hunter, Executive Director and co-founder of WordPlay, warmly shared her reaction to the musical. “I am so impressed with Lilly’s bravery and I could see her smart humor [in its composition]," Hunter said. "Lilly has established herself over the past few years as a leader, almost an unofficial WordPlay ambassador, being warm, open and inviting new people into the WordPlay family.”
Gieseke’s other WordPlay mentor, program coordinator Desirae Hosley, agreed. “Lilly comes to Scribes as her whole self. She has a ball of energy that speaks to the room. She is not hesitant to make friends and encourage her peers to be great artists. It has been profound to see her grow as a writer and leader at WordPlay over the years," Hosley said.