M&D Playhouse is proud to partner with Overture to bring you Breathe: A New Musical conceived and written by New York Times best-selling novelist Jodi Picoult and playwright Timothy Allen McDonald, and directed by Tony Award-nominee Jeff Calhoun.

We thank our friends at White Birch Books for their sponsorship support in sharing this opportunity with us.


Get Tickets for $25.00

Written as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, Breathe chronicles the virus’s impact on five very different relationships. Told in five interlocking suites – each with a different songwriting team and director – Breathe features an all-star cast that includes Tony Award-winners Kelli O’Hara and Brian Stokes Mitchell, Patti Murin, Colin Donnell, Denée Benton, Rubén J. Carbajal, Matt Doyle, Max Clayton, Daniel Yearwood, T. Oliver Reid and Josh Davis. 

Under the supervising direction of Tony Award nominee Jeff Calhoun, Breathe was filmed in March 2021 at the 92 Street Y’s Kaufmann Concert Hall in New York City without an audience, in compliance with all New York State safety regulations. For most of the cast and crew, this marked their return to the stage and in-person performance since Broadway shut down on March 12, 2020. 

Ranging from lighthearted to heartbreaking, unbelievable and all-too-real, Breathe traverses the COVID realities of parenting in quarantine, generational divides on Black Lives Matter, grief rituals via Zoom, and the vulnerabilities of intimacy and independence. 

“The arts have always helped people make sense of seismic shifts in the world,” Picoult said. “When the pandemic began, Tim and I wanted to memorialize how we shared the same anxiety and fear and frustration, even though we were all separated from each other. What’s theatre, after all, but a person isolated in their own seat, having the same feelings as the person beside them, because of what’s happening onstage?” 

Adds McDonald: “As soon as I recovered from COVID-19 in March of 2020, Jodi and I started talking about how we could capture the chaos around us. We were inspired by theatre makers like Larry Kramer and Jonathan Larson, who also wrote about health crises in real time. With Broadway shut down, we wanted to financially and artistically support as many theatre makers as possible — from stagehands to music directors to songwriters to directors to general management to technicians to orchestrators to copyists and more.” 

Each suite of Breathe, titled after a symptom of COVID-19, features a score from different composers, including longtime songwriting duo Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich (Ever After), Rob Rokicki (The Lightning Thief) and Rebecca Murillo (Not Quite Extinct), Daniel Mertzlufft and Kate Leonard (Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical), Tony Award-winner Doug Besterman (Little Did I Know) and Sharon Vaughn (Hats!) and Jonathan Larson Grant finalists Douglas Lyons and Ethan Pakchar (Five Points). 

Complete cast and creative team credits are as follows: 

FEVER, starring Denée Benton & Rubén J. Carbajal 

Music & Lyrics: Rob Rokicki & Rebecca Murillo
Book: Rob Rokicki, Rebecca Murillo, Jodi Picoult, Timothy Allen Mcdonald
Story: Jodi Picoult & Timothy Allen Mcdonald
Director: Emily Maltby 

In Fever, a young woman’s one-night stand extends far longer than expected. 

ACHES, starring Matt Doyle & Max Clayton 

Music: Daniel Mertzlufft
Lyrics: Kate Leonard
Book & Story: Jodi Picoult & Timothy Allen Mcdonald
Director: Joe Barros 

In Aches, a couple re-examines their relationship.

SWELLING & IRRITATION, starring Patti Murin & Colin Donnell 

Music: Doug Besterman
Lyrics: Sharon Vaughn
ook & Story: Jodi Picoult & Timothy Allen Mcdonald
Director: Lorin Latarro 

In Swelling & Irritation, a dual-career couple homeschool their children. 

FATIGUE, starring Josh Davis, T. Oliver Reid, Daniel Yearwood 

Music: Ethan Pakchar & Douglas Lyons
Lyrics & Book: Douglas Lyons
Story: Douglas Lyons, Jodi Picoult, Timothy Allen Mcdonald
Director: Zhailon Levingston 

In Fatigue, a Black policeman finds himself weighing his career against the passions of his son, a grassroots organizer. 

SHORTNESS OF BREATH, starring Kelli O’Hara & Brian Stokes Mitchell 

Music: Zina Goldrich
Lyrics: Marcy Heisler
Book & Story: Jodi Picoult & Timothy Allen Mcdonald
Director: Jeff Calhoun 

In Shortness of Breath, a widow searches for closure. 

The Orchestra was produced and recorded by Dan Rudin, with orchestrations and arrangements by Lynne Shankel and Meg Zervoulis serving as Music Supervisor. 


The musical will be available to stream on OVERTURE+ through July 2, 2021. Breathe features a running time of approximately one hour, fifty minutes. 


Share and Enjoy !