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Boston Conservatory’s ‘Shelter’ gives voice to the unheard and overlooked

June 6, 2013
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Published in Metro

Boston Conservatory’s “Shelter,” set to premiere June 6, gives voice to a subset of women not often heard in our society, let alone in a pop-rock musical: members of the homeless community.

“The more we explored these characters, the more we wanted it to see where they came from, and what they would do,” says Brittany Bullen, one of the show’s creators.

The musical centers around Jeanine, a counselor at a women’s shelter in New York City, and follows the stories of the many homeless women she meets.

Bullen wrote the book, lyrics and music for the show, and did a lot of research in the process.

“We visited shelters, talked to people who had been homeless, to people whose family members had been homeless and to counselors,” she says.

Professionals who work with the homeless attended the show’s first reading, vetting the script before the show was produced.

“I always assumed that all homeless people are the ones you see on street corners panhandling,” says Bullen. “But these people are rarely taking advantage of the resources like shelters that are available. Those in shelters are often homeless only temporarily.”

Raising awareness and funds for the homeless is a big goal for the team behind “Shelter.”

“In communities where the homeless are taken care of well, they really can see some change and turn their lives around to become contributing members of society again,” says Bullen. “It really is worth helping them.”

This goal has helped drive the team behind “Shelter,” even when it was difficult. Bullen admits that developing, revising and producing a musical is no easy task. “The philanthropic effort that we’ve tried to pair with the show has really helped us keep going with it, given us a reason to keep moving forward when it’s hard,” she says.

“Shelter” is in town for a very limited run.

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