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Mary MacDonald Rival

Stage Musicals

I was blessed with eight years of piano lessons and a baby grand as a kid, but what did I do? I squandered the opportunity by not practicing and dreaming of having a horse of my own. I still love horses, but I'm kicking myself that my repertoire of piano hits is limited to Greensleeves and Mary Had a Little Lamb. Hmmm, maybe I should write the book for a musical about that!

By either fluke or destiny, I've been given a second chance to make music -- this time limited to lyric suggestions and writing the story that goes along with the music -- and the thrill is beyond words. This is how it came about...

After writing Sell Out: The Klaatu Story and helping them to build their independent record company, I had big plans to make their fans happy by using my charms of persuasion to convince the band they should reunite. You know, reunite the band that was mistaken as The Beatles secretly reunited. It would have been poetic. Well, that never happened (apparently I'm not nearly as charming as I thought I was), so when Terry Draper was approached by visual effects editor and Tesla aficionado Timothy Eaton (Forrest Gump, Titanic, Galaxy Quest, The Time Machine, Back to the Future Parts II and III) about the band creating a Tesla inspired concept album à la their masterpiece Hope -- Terry suggested he team up with a talented screenwriter he knew for a stage musical instead. I gather that writer must have been busy, so I was called in to write the book to Tesla Rocks: The Musical!

Tesla Rocks!:The Musical

Music by Terry Draper. Lyrics by Terry Draper and Mary MacDonald Rival.
Book by Mary MacDonald Rival, Timothy Eaton and Terry Draper

(Click the arrows to hear a sample of songs)


Tesla Rocks! is the illuminating tale of über geek Nikola Tesla, a Serbian immigrant who lands in New York City in the 1880s with four cents to his name, but quickly rises to fame as an electrical wizard and mesmerizing showman.

When George Westinghouse purchases Tesla’s revolutionary Alternating Current system – that allows power to be transmitted hundreds of miles rather than the mere handful Direct Current is able to flow – Thomas Edison wages a PR war against them in an effort to protect the business he built on DC power. His strategy: to make the public fearful of being electrocuted, or Westinghoused, a term he strategically embedded in our vernacular.


Tesla’s life-long dream to subjugate natural forces to the service of mankind is first realized when he harnesses the power of Niagara Falls and uses his Alternating Current-based system to send electricity as far away as New York City, even lighting the lights of Broadway. But that is just the beginning of his mind-boggling contributions to science... including the invention of radio and his magnum opus of a worldwide wireless broadcasting system that would have had our great-grandparents wearing iWatches and rendered power lines a footnote in history.


Tesla Rocks! takes the audience on a guided musical and visual journey through Tesla’s extraordinary life – unraveling the coil of a deeply passionate, celibate poet with OCD and little business savvy who never truly grasped what a threat he posed to Captains of Industry.


Even though mention of Tesla was written out of textbooks for many years, the future for which he really worked is finally here. There is a growing fascination with anything to do with Tesla, including an electric car named in his honor. A musical about him would be an entertaining primer for some and a welcomed tribute by many. After all, the man could shoot lightning bolts from his hands... and it doesn’t get much better than that.


The music in Tesla Rocks!: The Musical is by Terry Draper, formerly of the 1970s progressive rock band, Klaatu. Mary MacDonald Rival spearheaded the book, along with Terry and visual effects mastermind, Timothy Eaton.

TESLA ROCKS CD cover 2.jpg
01 NIKOLA edit wavTerry Draper
00:00 / 02:21
12 HE TOUCHED ME editTerry Draper
00:00 / 02:08
10 WAR OF THE CURRENTS editTerry Draper
00:00 / 02:40
13 WHAT CAN I SAY_ editTerry Draper
00:00 / 02:17
27 THE FUTURE IS NOW editTerry Draper
00:00 / 02:32

After the creative explosion we experienced writing Tesla Rocks!: The Musical, life seemed a little dull... that's when I got another call from Terry saying, "Let's write a musical about Amelia Earhart!" It was quickly decided that we would write it as a musical about our experience writing a musical... well, everything is different except the teaching me about songwriting... but you get the idea.

Let's Write A Musical About Amelia Earhart

Music & Lyrics by Terry Draper. Book by Mary MacDonald Rival

(Click arrow to hear a sample of songs)


Spoiler alert: Let’s Write A Musical About Amelia Earhart! isn’t about Amelia Earhart. Sure, an imaginary version of her appears as the narrator and star of a Broadway production – but the story focuses on two lost souls attempting to navigate love, loss and betrayal while they combine their talents to write a musical together.

It is though, a musically-charged journey of self-discovery and finding the courage within to live your authentic life. It is about learning to soar to new heights, even when your comfort zone beckons you back to lower ground.


The story follows the rollercoaster relationship of ANTHONY TROY – a bitter, washed-up rock star with writer’s block who has found solace at the bottom of a whiskey bottle – and MAGGIE, the newly-divorced, yet-to-be-successful playwright who has moved into the apartment next door. AMELIA EARHART – or a version of her that Maggie has created in her head – narrates the tale in her sassy and forward- thinking way.


Other characters include Anthony’s ex-wife, HELENA (think Bette Midler meets Madonna) who crushed his music career and left him broke after he discovered her having an affair with the A&R rep from their record label. Add to the mix, Anthony’s shady manager NOAH O’MALLEY who is secretly in cahoots with Helena and her plan to win her “Tony” back; and Maggie’s too-charming ex-husband DAN – who ran off with her best friend JANET, but is now having second thoughts.


When Anthony is lured back into Helena’s bed and the world of rock’n roll, Amelia inspires the heart-broken Maggie to keep moving forward with the musical – resulting in a new-found belief in herself and the Tony she always wanted.


The music & lyrics are by Terry Draper, formally of Klaatu – the 70s mystery band rumored to be The Beatles secretly reunited. In addition to dodging fallout from the rumor the past 40 years, Terry co-wrote Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft (covered by The Carpenters) and has continued to hone his craft as a songwriter.


Terry met Mary MacDonald Rival when she wrote a screenplay about Klaatu. They worked so well together that their collaboration continued with the penning of Tesla Rocks!: The Musical. One day while discussing their experience on that project, the idea for Let’s Write A Musical About Amelia Earhart! was born. In fact, those are the exact words Terry said when he proposed the idea.

amilia E .jpg
00:00 / 41:41
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