I AM ALIVE - a new musical
In 1998, while my grandparents were still alive, I embarked on the challenge of telling their story of surviving the Armenian Genocide. This would be my first documentary film, my first attempt at editing, and my first film score. As I began the process of interviewing Kourken and Malvine Handjian, I discovered that a French woman had done just that ten years prior. In the hopes of making a film with actors, Mireille Kaloustian interviewed my grandparents and planned to use the nearly 5 hours of footage as archival material. I requested a copy and spent the next 2 years watching, having my mother translate, and finally completed my film.
I Am Alive - Social Media
I Am Alive logo created by Susanna Hayrapetyan and Hasmik Nikoghosyan
Produced by Well Orchestrated Madness, LLC
The Handjian Story: A Road Less Traveled would go on to earn my first Emmy® Award for the film score. The response to the film was so overwhelming that I knew I had to continue to tell their story in whatever format I was able to do.
Fast forward to December 2013.
Knowing that the 100th commemoration of the Armenian Genocide was fast approaching on April 24, 2015, I began to write the outline to a song called, I Am Alive, in the hope that it could be a musical. I wanted to focus on the positive part of my grandparents' survival and the contributions of the Armenian people to society as a whole. I did not want to bemoan the sadness of their history but still tell that history to a society who knew little of this past: the first genocide of the 20th century.
I shared the beginnings of the song with my long time co-writer, Lisa Nemzo. She immediately saw the potential in this concept and asked to be a part of the project. Since I had great pride in all the songs we had written together over the years, I knew this could be a powerful collaboration. And it was.
It was then, and still is my understanding that there has never been a musical about the Armenian Genocide until I Am Alive.
With the help of my wife and business partner, Lynette Prisner, we were able to produce a staged, on book production of I Am Alive in time for the commemoration. Premiering at the The Newman Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Denver in Gates Hall on April 21, 2015, we delivered to both the non-Armenian and Armenian public here in Colorado, a musical about the Armenian Genocide.
We then went on to do 2 more performances, one at Mile Hi Church in Lakewood, Colorado and the final performance in Glendale, California on September 11, 2016, at the Alex Theatre.
It has been a wild ride - and I am not done just yet. After many rewrites and new songs and song updates, I am finally ready to put I Am Alive out into the world once more, this time as a "concept CD" featuring all the songs from the musical. The hope is to get interest from prospective producers to invest in a journey that could lead us all the way to Broadway in New York.
I am ready for the ride!