Edinburgh Fringe

While some members of the last January Cohort displayed their creativity during their three-week break figuring out how to obtain informational interviews, how to land jobs during one-week internships, and how to navigate Puget Sound in a kayak, Dan Koloski (OK) and his wife, Stacey, demonstrated possibly the greatest level of creativity premiering their new musical adaptation of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter at Edinburgh, Scotland’s annual Fringe Festival, the largest arts festival in the world. This presentation represented the culmination of seven years of work, creating and refining the musical score and lyrics for the show.

Writing a musical score and lyrics is a task possibly more challenging than getting an ideal job in this economic environment. It is like writing a difficult business plan and doing all the technical R&D yourself. It requires creating the scenes and songs from scratch in your mind, revising them on an ongoing basis with actors, musicians and directors, and (of course) knowing how to write this all down. It kind of looks like this:

Having written a draft of the score and lyrics, Dan and Stacey had to sell their vision to a production company, the venture capitalists of the performance arts industry. Like so many startups, they received a helping hand from some friends to get them through the Fringe Festival. Blue Line Arts, Inc., a Connecticut-based production company founded by some of Dan’s former colleagues from Yale, took on the production. The nonprofit company raised money from friends, family and colleagues in its effort to mount the production.

At the Fringe, The Scarlet Letter was a smashing critical and artistic success. Scotsman.com, the online version of Scotland’s National Paper (The Scotsman), gave the show five out of five stars, saying, “It is a musical in the mould of Les Miserables, but in many ways more accessible, and often with better tunes…it is immediately clear that the potential of this show should make it required viewing for any impresario…I doubt you will see a better Fringe show.” Other reviews and sellout audiences were similarly enthusiastic, and the show broke venue records for both overall and opening night attendance.

Looking forward, Dan and Stacey may commit significantly more time to get a production company to take their show on and put it in theaters next year. Dan will spend part of his fall semester looking into options for the show as an Independent Student Research project. Whether the show goes on or not, we can all be proud of a fellow HBSer whose creativity far transcends the business pillars of finance, strategy and marketing.