Show History



John & Jen is an original musical that looks at the complexities of relationships between brothers and sisters, as well as parents and children, and is set against the background of a changing America between 1950 and 1990. Certain events from American history during that time, including the Vietnam War, are present in the musical.


John & Jen opened off-Broadway at the Lamb's Theater on June 1, 1995. The two-person cast consisted of Carolee Carmello and James Ludwig as the brother and sister exploring their relationship over a forty-year period. Future Tony winner, Michele Pawk, was a cast replacement. The production was directed by Gabriel Barre.

The musical was revived in January of 2006, playing again at the Lamb's Theatre. It starred Matte O'Brien and Louise Stewart.

Cultural Influence

  • The original cast recording, first released as an audio cassette in 1996, was released in digital form by Ghostlight Records in 2012.


  • The orchestrations for John & Jen were done by author/composer, Jason Robert Brown.
  • Original director, Gabriel Barre, wrote the following director's note in September, 1996: "This is a play about a sister and a brother, a mother and a son, about Jen's journey. It is not about abuse, the Vietnam war, talk shows or single parenting. In telling this story, simpler is better. The show, as it evolved in readings, workshops and productions, became simpler and more suggestive – leaving more to the audiences' imagination. For instance, we found that it was not necessary to relay to them in which year each scene was taking place – the dialogue and material is enough. The physical production should also be simple. Two small boxes down left and right, a larger one up center, and two chairs up right and left are sufficient for the entire show. The three boxes contain most of the props for the show. The costumes should be basic, with pieces added on to help establish this period and ages of the characters, and the lighting should move with the show and isolate the action wherever possible. One thought regarding style: We found that the material worked best when little or no effort was made to 'play' a seven-year-old or a nine-year-old or etc. Again – honest, organic moment to moment acting is much more important. The singing, too, should be effortless and relaxed, nothing pushed or forced that makes the audience aware of the fact they are singing. When in doubt – true and unsentimental."