The Manson murders have been the subject of countless books, films, documentaries and television shows since the gruesome acts occurred in the summer of 1969. And now the events leading to the killings are the subject of a new musical.
The Academy for New Musical Theatre and the drama department at UC Irvine have teamed up for the production of “Manson’s Girls,” which had its first workshop reading this past week. Another concert reading is set for Monday and Tuesday at the NoHo Arts Center in North Hollywood.
The musical follows the half-dozen women involved in the Sharon Tate and LaBianca murders, and how under the charge of Charles Manson, they were transformed from suburban students into brainwashed killers. Professional actor Christopher Maikish plays Manson and UC Irvine drama students star as his “girls.”
Though the subject matter is disturbing, “It’s not a gruesome show,” the musical’s writer Scott Guy told The Times. “It’s about mind control.”
The story pays particular attention to Linda Kasabian, who joined Manson a month before the murders. “She wanted a family and love and to be accepted, and 33 days later [she was] a part of these murders,” said Guy. “The drama is about her trying to resist.”
Still, the musical has some unsettling lyrics, including “when the blood splatters in your eyes” and “don’t give your will to another or your soul will disappear.”
“You come to the end of a number, and you want to applaud. But they’re talking about such disturbing things,” said Guy, who also penned a play about the Donner Party.
More than anything, Guy said, the play is a cautionary tale about thinking for yourself. “These days there are so many sheep following so few leaders,” he added. “It’s a wake-up call: Don’t just give up your mind to someone else.”
The show, which is still in development, could be ready as a full production starting next year.