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5 Facts About Annie Mullee `14 and Her Musical Tess

5 Facts About Annie Mullee `14 and Her Musical Tess

1. Annie wrote the musical while she was living at her parents’ house during the Covid pandemic. 

Like many of us in 2020, she was stuck at home with a lot of extra time on her hands. “Living with your parents as a 23-year-old wasn’t ideal, so I started writing this project. I think I wrote the whole thing in three months because I had nothing else to do. I would spend eight hours a day writing in my parents’ backyard. I sent it to one of my college friends who majored in theater as well and she was like, ‘I love this so much!’”  


2. Getting her musical up and running was not as difficult as she thought it would be. 

Annie found it a lot easier than expected to get her project off the ground. “What surprised me the most was how accessible it was and how there were ways to make art and do well that don’t necessarily involve the roadblock of asking for permission.” She also credits New York’s theater community for being so supportive of her project by lending her valuable advice and pointing her toward the proper resources she needed to bring the musical to life. 


3. The musical is the biggest project she has worked on so far…but it is not the first.

Annie has been creating art projects from a young age. “I’ve been writing music since I was very young, so a lot of Annie Mullee originals have been performed on the Keeler stage. Some I’m proud of, some I’m not [chuckles].” Other projects include creating a concept album in 2021, ghostwriting fiction during the pandemic, playing gigs with her band around New York City, and writing a couple of short films in college. But because this project includes multiple phases, this is her most daunting challenge yet. “This is probably the biggest undertaking in the sense that it really combines all of those skills to develop a two-hour-long production.” 


4. The first performance of Tess took place on June 4 at the Kraine Theater in New York City.  

Following a Zoom reading of the script in May 2022 and the production of the demo album, which Annie wrote and produced herself, Annie and her all-star cast performed the music from Tess, along with some narration from the musical’s script to help guide the audience through the performance. Annie’s plan to make Tess a fully-formed production includes doing a staged reading this fall, which will include performing all the songs and the script without any of the stage directions or set changes. And in the spring of 2024, she hopes to produce “the whole enchilada” of the musical, which would mean bringing Tess completely to life with the music, the script, stage directions, costumes, and set design.  


5. Not surprisingly, Country Day played a big part in getting her to this stage of her career. 

Annie’s love of music not only started at Country Day, but her tenure at Country Day was also the first time she performed in front of an audience. She credits her teachers in the music department, like Lois Rust, Mark Femia, and Stephanie Wietmarschen, for encouraging her to participate in the productions. Annie also attributes her love of writing and literature (her college major) to Pat Dunn, who was her honors English teacher. “Tess is based on Tess of the D’Urbervilles, which is actually a story that I first read in my sophomore year English class with Mrs. Dunn. It all comes full circle.”