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Old Globe Turns ‘October Sky’ Into New Musical

(from left) Patrick Rooney as Roy Lee, Austyn Myers as O'Dell, Kyle Selig as ...

Photo by Jim Cox

Above: (from left) Patrick Rooney as Roy Lee, Austyn Myers as O'Dell, Kyle Selig as Homer Hickam, and Connor Russell as Quentin in The Globe's "October Sky."

The beloved film about rocket science is adapted into a family-friendly, 'wholesome' musical.

Back in 1999, the movie “October Sky” told the true story of Homer Hickam, a coal miner’s son who dreams of working for NASA.

Now, the Old Globe brings that story to us in the form of a musical. At a recent rehearsal, the cast and crew discussed why this tale was adapted for the stage.

Photo by Nina Garin

A scene from rehearsals for The Old Globe's "October Sky."

The musical, like the film, was inspired by the reaction to the launch of the Sputnik satellite in 1957. Instead of being afraid like many of his neighbors were, the international event inspired Homer to dream of a life outside his West Virginia town.

This hopeful reaction was why Old Globe Artistic Director Barry Edelstein said he was attracted to the show.

Event: The Old Globe's 'October Sky'

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"The country got scared when Sputnik came overhead. Homer decided to build a rocket," he said. "And that impulse, the drive to create as the right response to fear, is one that I love, and that this piece reminds us to embrace. I think it's a tonic for all of us right now."

He says turning to big, seemingly impossible ideas is a theme that should resonate with San Diego’s large scientific community.

The show was created in Chicago by Brian Hill and Aaron Thielen with music by Michael Mahler. That team, along with some of the actors and acclaimed director Rachel Rockwell, are on board for the San Diego production.

The show also picked up some San Diego actors, including Austyn Myers and Ron Bohmer.

Photo by Nina Garin

The cast of "October Sky" in a dress rehearsal before the musical opens.

Along with its strong scientific themes, "October Sky" is being described as a wholesome show that’s appropriate for all-ages.

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"It has a certain kind of warmth and sincerity," Edelstein said. "And if I may say, even a wholesome quality - a word that's been wrenched and robbed of its value. But this wonderful show restores to it a genuine sense of what it can mean."

"October Sky" runs Sept. 10 through Oct. 23 at the Old Globe.

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