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The Anxiety Project
Book and Lyrics by David Brush
Music by Rachel Dean
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Type of Show
Full-length Musical
Performance Type
1 act
2 acts
110 mins
Performing Groups
Professional Theatre
Community Theatre
High School/Secondary
Movement Requirements
Minimal, flexible
Tech Requirements
Minimal, flexible
Cast Summary
Flexible 13f, 9m (with much doubling). Can be performed with as few as 7 and as many as you wish.
License it
It's here--the fresh, captivating, and honest musical about mental health we've been waiting for.  Crafted from true, anonymously-submitted stories from people experiencing anxiety and depression, The Anxiety Project explores the effects of mental illness on our collective minds – and how ignoring it leaves ripples in our social existence.

We here at Uproar love musicals that break the mold. Dean and Brush have deftly woven together The Anxiety Project's modular vignettes with lynchpin characters (a sister story!) and a driving pop/rock score: one moment they deliver cathartic humor, the next a gut-punch of brutal honesty.   

"Powerful. Cathartic. Beautiful. THE ANXIETY PROJECT is one of the most powerful shows I have experienced all year." - Rebbeca Rudnyk, YabYum Music and Arts, Arizona

"Dean & Brush's work reminds me why I love musical theatre - it is everything I think this artform can accomplish." - Kevin David Thomas (Broadway's Les Miserables and A Little Night Music; co-host of 'Behind the Curtain' podcast)

**"Balloons or Fireworks," the only song not included in the Spotify album, can be seen and heard in the video selections to the right.**

***Looking for the one-act edition (60 mins)? Here you go.***

The Anxiety Project tells the story of Avery - one semester away from her doctorate in psychiatry. Her thesis involves multiple case studies on anxiety/depression. Avery has charts, spreadsheets, and file folders full of data. But the more she delves into each case, the more she realizes that numbers only tell half the story. When mental illness hits closer to home than she ever imagined, Avery realizes that clinical must meet compassion as she finds herself fighting the stigma and giving voice to those who need it most. 
Script Versions
One and two-act version available: please see optional act break in libretto
Festival cut available upon creator’s approval
Flexible 13f, 9m (with much doubling). Can be performed with as few as 7 and as many as you wish.
Female Principals
Male Principals
Supporting Females
Supporting Males
Post graduate student in her final semester at Notre Dame completing her degree in psychiatry. Avery is methodical, numbers-oriented and feels science can cure all. She struggles when she cannot find the scientific link to explain the deeply emotional symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Avery’s younger sister. Secretly suffering from extreme depression and manic behaviors. Unbeknownst to Avery, Macy has lived through a suicide attempt. Macy is reaching out to Avery but Avery doesn’t see it until it’s almost too late. Macy is caring and longs for companionship with her sister. Macy is easily angered and explodes quickly. Often feeling she is “always the bridesmaid,” she does things for people claiming to not want anything in return but hurt when they don’t.
Rachel’s mom, who has experienced anxiety and depression for a long time. She's survived suicide attempts several times and grapples with self-harm. She tends to lash out when confronted and then when backed into a corner, collapses emotionally. She loves her daughter, but her illness keeps her from having a real relationship with her.
Elizabeth’s daughter. Hard working, self-sufficient – been cleaning up her mother’s messes for some time. She has it down to a science. Would love to just walk away – but can never quite do it, so she finds herself caught in the same cycle with her mother over and over again.
Charming, mid-20’s, funny and somewhat nerdy person living with anxiety and depression. Self-deprecation and humor are defense weapons that he wields like a ninja. A validation seeker.
Laura experiences anxiety and depression with a great deal of hypersensitivity. Gets her feelings hurt easily. Continually feels alone. Feels she cannot properly express how she feels and that no one would understand anyway. Cannot maintain long relationships as she bails early before she can become a burden to them.
Laura’s boyfriend. Loves her very much. Frustrated that he cannot solve her problem because he doesn’t understand it. The classic non-sufferer companion – carries the shrapnel of her disease just skin deep.
Mid-30’s, diagnosed as manic depressive and bipolar, which keeps her awake for as many as three days at a time. Level-headed. Understands her disease. Married to Neil for some time now. She feels she should no longer hurt him and decides she needs to leave him for both their sakes.
Mid-30’s, husband to Annie. Loving, loyal, hurt, bitter. Has always been there for her, so her leaving him comes as a hurtful blow. It’s an ending he cannot understand.
Generalized anxiety triggered by father abandonment at age 8. Medication and therapy is a way of life. In fact, he’s doing quite well until his father re-emerges in his life 15 years later.
Deadbeat dad. Abandoned his wife and child when Dan was 8. Wrote a few letters, but largely has been absent. He is regretful, but too late – the damage to both of them is done.
Recovering alcoholic. Her intoxicated days led to physical and emotional hurt she is now on a journey to repair – as much as she can. Falling off the wagon is a very real possibility.
Cara’s former friend (perhaps more). Joe and Cara spent a good deal of their time together while she was drunk. When Cara earned her first DUI, she and Joe severed ties. He loves Cara – but is hesitant to bring all of that chaos back into his life.
Ethan's anxiety and depression symptoms manifest in physical violence – especially against his girlfriend. He often fails to see or maybe even know the severity of his actions. That is, until his girlfriend Molly decides she’s had enough.
Ethan’s supportive girlfriend – who has suffered abuses both physical and emotional from him and has finally decided it’s enough.
Three women at various stages of their life with exact same diagnoses but starkly different symptom manifestations. They represent frustration for Avery as she constantly searches for scientific consistency.
Manic depression, medicated, ashamed. Loving, passionate – feels his disorder is a black cloud that makes him unlovable and problematic in relationships.
Aaron’s fiancé. Loving, supportive – aware of Aaron’s disease and loves him anyway. It’s a non-factor for him. Max wants to marry Aaron, but Aaron worries that he will become too much for Max to handle. Max is the wisdom in the room when it is most needed.
16-year-old girl. ADHD, generalized anxiety, struggles with self-harm. Quiet sufferer. Obsessed with Robert Downey Jr. as he represents a new life for her – a life where she isn’t medicated but the toast of the town, the wife of Iron Man.
Long time self-harmer, in a support and recovery group. We meet her when she is three months free of cutting. Amy’s history is dark but represents an emergence from the pain – a pain-free life IS possible.
The show utilizes a small rock combo. Notes on bass: upright and electric preferable, but can be played with just electric.  Notes on guitar: both acoustic and electric required. Original orchestrations by Benedict Braxton-Smith.
**Performance tracks available**
Orchestration for Instruments:
Keyboard 1
Bass Guitar
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