16-Year-Old Writes, Directs Musical At Blue Water

When Talia Segal was younger, writing was her “least favorite thing in the world,” mainly because the majority of her assignments were nonfiction. It wasn’t until she received a personal narrative assignment in fourth grade that she had a change of heart.

“I kind of cheesed up the truth and in this fourth grade story, I made it very much more fantastical than real life is,” Segal said. 

“Dimension: The Musical” is the debut production written and directed by Segal, a 10th grader at PiM Arts High School in Eden Prairie. It will be presented at Blue Water Theatre Company this Thursday through Sunday, May 11-14. 

The musical follows a teenage boy named Thor who gets trapped in a different dimension. In his journey to make it back home, he meets an eccentric cast of characters, all played by actors in sixth through 10th grade. 

The “cheesed up” story she wrote? It was about Segal and her stuffed animals talking about college. But, it helped unlock her love for storytelling. Segal began writing prologues to books, but she never continued them. However, in sixth grade, one of Segal’s friends, upon hearing about her interest in writing, suggested she write an entire musical. Only this time, it stuck, and the idea for “Dimension” was born.

The four-year-long undertaking involved Segal drawing inspiration from musicals she had seen at the time. Segal said tropes from “The Music Man,” “Newsies” and “Les Misérables” had a huge influence on various aspects of her show. Namely, the death count in “Dimension” is reminiscent of “Les Misérables,” with about 10 on-stage deaths in Segal’s show.

Segal also learned music theory from her teachers in order to write all of the production’s songs, something she said was the hardest part of the writing process. In total, there are 36 songs in “Dimension.”

On top of writing the musical, Segal also serves as the director of the production. While she didn’t begin her performing arts career as a director, she began exploring it in high school, where she credits her growth in the theater.

Segal began directing movies with her friends at the start of her high school career. This year, she started making films for her civics class, including a music video about a Supreme Court case.

Segal is no stranger to the stage. She started dedicating more time to theater in seventh grade and has appeared in Blue Water productions herself. Last year, Segal began emailing back and forth with the company and they eventually worked “Dimension” into their theater season. 

Blue Water Theatre Company is based out of Wayzata and aims to build a community for youth in the arts. Maridee Slater, the artistic director of the organization, said the company doesn’t normally feature young playwrights, but they are working toward making it part of their programming. 

“I come from a background of directing and implementing and making new work with living playwrights,” Slater said. “So it’s something that I’m very much passionate about.”

Slater thinks showcasing work by younger artists is important because it shows youth that their stories are worth being told. She said this is especially true for Segal’s work with “Dimension.”

“It’s not your usual musical,” Slater said. “I think she’s got a really unique voice and take on the world.”

Currently, Segal is working on another musical and a silent one-act play that she hopes to use in the future. While she finds writing musicals to be a fun endeavor, Segal is hoping to work in the movie industry when she’s older.

Segal is a strong believer in young people’s art being shown to a wider audience because of the new ideas they can bring to artistic fields. 

“Young people, right now, we’re the ones with ideas and if we start early, then we can get more on the mainstream and show those ideas to other people,” Segal said. 

“Dimension: The Musical” is best for viewers ages 12 and up due to some swearing and violence. Tickets can be purchased on Blue Water Theatre Company’s website.