Delve into the Touching World of New Rock Musical ‘Raven’s Stars’

The East Tennessee Music Company has chosen Chicago’s Edge Theater for the world premiere of the powerful new, dramatic musical Raven’s Stars.

A groundbreaking rock musical, Raven’s Stars plays March 9, 10, 11, and 12, featuring a cast of Chicago and Florida’s finest talents including Grace Everett, Marc Harlin, Amber Dow, Ashton Freeman, Mary Eliza Willingham, and Kristen Miller.

The play features a book by Remy Partlow, Zachary Isrow, and Marianna Raho with music and lyrics by Isrow and Raho. It is inspired by Partlow’s own life experiences as an autistic teenager under the inadequate care of a mother with mental illness.

The musical is unique in how it represents autism. People with autism have been portrayed in the movies and on TV as either being without social skills and robust verbal abilities like in the film Rain Man or as geniuses like in the television drama The Good Doctor. It is the people in the middle – the everyday people with autism – that this story represents.

“People will learn a lot about how people with autism spectrum disorder view their world, the stimulation that can inspire or distract them, their feelings, and how they are just people,” explains Raho.

“My experience is not a unique one,” adds Partlow. “About 1 million female adults in the US have an autism diagnosis. Many more are undiagnosed. If I can tell a story that helps any of them, I have succeeded.”

Interestingly the actress playing the title role, De Paul University student Everett is herself an autistic actress. Although the creators didn’t know Everett was autistic until after she how wowed them with her audition and had been cast in the part, it has added to the depth of the character.

“Gracie said to me once that autism has no room for mediocrity. You are either a genius or very low functioning; you are never just a person who can function in the world, live your life, do your job, average and unexceptional,” explains Raho of the misconception about autism.  “Raven is this person.”  


My goal is always to support the arts. I love big budget shows as much as the next person, but I also really encourage people to support new works being developed by undiscovered talents – like Raven’s Stars.

Autism affects those in my life. I have autistic relatives, friends, and business associates. But you don’t have to know anything about autism to enjoy Raven’s Stars. In fact, learning is part of the experience you can expect attending Raven’s Stars this weekend.

“When the audience watches our show or listens to our music, it is going to make them feel something, and in that there is learning to be had. I think we have all learned something, not only about autism – though that as well, but about ourselves in the process of writing this show, and I think that is one of the fundamental aspects of art that makes it art: there is a self-reflexivity involved in the appreciation of art,” adds Isrow.

Partlow envisioned writing Raven’s Stars as a play; however when they were presented with the opportunity to work with Zachary Isrow and Marianna Raho to develop the piece as a musical – there was no question about it.

“Originally, I started the script thinking it would be a play and not a musical. But then I wouldn’t be utilizing the amazing opportunity of working with Zack and Mari to the fullest,” explains Partlow. “Their talents are incredible. It doesn’t make sense not to have music if you know a genius composer and music director.”


As Partlow points out, one of the keys to the power of Raven’s Stars is the way the music lends itself to the story. It’s a sentiment shared by all three of the show’s creators.

“It’s really a musical drama,” offers Isrow. “I think the music and songs add an element that breaks it up a bit in a way that allows it to be watched easier.”

The musical deals with difficult subjects including mental illness, domestic violence, and self-harm. It is inspirational, but not lighthearted.

Part of the appeal of the musical is the beauty of the music. That beauty comes from Isrow and Raho’s embrace of multiple, diverse genres – everything from punk rock to polyphonic chants.

“Zack’s melodies are very beautiful, and his accompaniments are often moving like water or laughter,” surmises Raho. “They help to set the tone of a piece perfectly.”

The tone that is being set, is one of inclusivity. That is one of the overall messages of Raven’s Stars.

“Understanding and kindness can go a very long way toward helping someone who is struggling feel included, cherished, wanted, or important,” explains Raho. “So, be kind is one message. Find ways to connect rather than focusing on differences.”

Although the creators didn’t seek out an autistic actress for the lead role originally, the experience of working with Everett has made them realize how much it brings to the show.

“Although anyone can portray Raven, I think inclusivity and diversity is essential. Especially given the fact that there is still not enough representation in theatre – I think we need to take every opportunity we have to better that,” says Isrow. “So, I would encourage the role to always be portrayed by someone who is autistic, not only for authenticity and what they will bring to the role, but also for the purpose of being actively inclusive.”

The goal is to produce Raven’s Stars Off-Broadway. The Edge Theater premiere will serve as an introduction to audiences and also to potential investors, theaters, and producers interested in further exploring Raven’s Stars.

This is an opportunity to see a riveting new work that will touch you and change you.      

The Edge Theatre is located at 54 Broadway in Chicago.  Performances are Thursday, March 9th at 7 PM, Friday March 10th at 8 PM, Saturday March 11th at 2 PM and 8 PM, and Sunday March 12th at 3 PM.

For tickets visit:

For further information visit the Official Raven’s Star Facebook Page:

Peace. Love. Trust.

Rikki Lee Travolta


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One comment

  1. This is a wonderful and courageous topic for a musical drama. Here’s to a very successful premiere! Glad you’re bringing it to everyone’s attention! 👍

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