Brisa's Pieces: A conversation with THE BURNT PART BOYS

Brisa's Pieces: A conversation with THE BURNT PART BOYS

I had the great pleasure of running into two talented songwriters the other day, Chris Miller and Nathan Tysen. I’ve long been a fan of their moving and timely musical, THE BURNT PART BOYS, written with Mariana Elder, ever since it made a splash in NYC.

This beautiful coming of age musical, that presents a fictional take on a family scarred by a mining accident, by pure coincidence premiered in the wake of a real life mining tragedy. You can read more about the show HERE.

MTI made it available for licensing a year ago. I took the opportunity to talk with the songwriters about what it’s been like for THE BURNT PART BOYS to be finding success at theater companies around the country and what they are looking forward to next!

What is the most creative thing you’ve seen a theater company do with your show?

We are pleased that the piece has been produced in both large and intimate venues.  It’s nice to know the show is successful in all different sizes of theaters.

What’s your favorite song or moment in the show?
The sequence that includes the songs “The Climbing Song” and “Disappear.”  We set out to write a coming-of-age adventure musical in the spirit of The Goonies and Stand By Me, and this sequence is a perfect blend of cinematic and theatrical storytelling.  “The Climbing Song” works like film underscoring (It is the soundtrack to the boys’ adventure); which deftly segues into “Disappear”  which is a more straight-forward musical theatre song that focuses on the inner turmoil of one of the boys.  It’s also important to note the boys are climbing to an abandoned mine for nearly 80% of the show, and by the time “Disappear” ends, they have reached their destination.  This makes the sequence both thrilling and dangerous.   We also have a song called “Dusty Plays the Saw”  where a teenage boy literally sings and plays a saw.  I think we made musical theatre history with that one.

What’s the funniest/weirdest/craziest thing that happened at a performance of the show?
SPOILER ALERT:  The boys get trapped in an abandoned coal mine in the last third of the show, and it seems very likely that they are not going to get out.  At the last minute, they manage to escape.  In the  Playwrights Horizons production, while the boys were trapped, four black curtains were flown in to block the cyc, to make the theatre as dark as possible. As the boys climbed out, the curtains opened using an iris effect to reveal the cyc, which was lit like a sunrise.  Well, one night, the curtain mechanism wasn’t working, so the cyc was never revealed, and it appeared the boys never escaped from the mine.  (This coincidentally was the same night the show was filmed for the Theatre on Film and Tape Archive.  Whoops).

What are your future goals or dreams for the piece?
We would love to see a production of the show in coal country.  Particularly West Virginia.

Who’s the audience for your show and why do you think your show is popular with audiences around the country?
We both grew up sons of ministers in small town America.  This show is for our parents and our hometowns.  It is about family, it is about fathers and sons, tradition, and responsibility.  It’s a musical for the whole family: An exciting adventure story with catchy folk/pop tunes with goosebumpy harmonies.

What are you working on now?
We are working on a musical adaptation of the popular novel Tuck Everlasting, as well as writing the next circus for Ringing Bros. and Barnum & Bailey.

Anything else you’d like to say to producers/theaters who are putting on your show?
Thank you, and feel free to reach out to us! (Go to  We love to know who is doing our work, and are happy to help out.  Be aware, the score is deceptively difficult.  Get good singers.  Also, don’t necessarily worry about casting age appropriate actors.   We developed the show with real teenagers as well as twenty-somethings playing the teenage roles, and both versions were successful.

Or order your own perusal copy here.

Read all of Brisa’s Pieces here.
You can reach Brisa on twitter: @brisatrinchero. I also blog about the art and business of new musicals at I look forward to hearing from you!