Whitechapel, London – 1888
LIGHT AND SHADOW is a full-length, original musical that takes place on the crime-infested streets of Jack the Ripper's London.
George Martin, a portrait photographer, is recruited to photograph Jack the Ripper's first victim. He is soon pulled into a world of politics, prejudice, greed and corruption while at the same time falling for the tough-minded and strong-willed Mary Jane Kelly, a prostitute who is tasked with identifying the bodies of her departed friends.
Jack the Ripper's murders shock London and the upstanding "Moral" citizens begin to organize. George Lusk, a successful businessman and Christian, nominates himself head of the "Whitechapel Vigilante Committee" and vows to seek out the evil killer. Lusk's righteous cause clashes with the views of celebrity stage actor, Remblake, whose starring role in the local stage adaptation of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" has made him the toast of London. It becomes clear that Lusk and Remblake have another, more shadowy connection as well.
The murders also baffle the Metropolitan Police, and Chief Warren bears the burden of responsibility. Unable to find the Ripper, Warren becomes increasingly desperate and violent. He rages against the scandal-printing newspaper editor, W.T. Stead, of "The Pall Mall Gazette" while clashing with the over-scientific Inspector Abberline of the Central Intelligence Department.
As Martin's esteem and noteriety grow, his ambition grows, too. He insists on reaching the top level of society and bringing Mary Jane with him. As the new couple struggles to curb their own desires and prejudices, London becomes a pressure cooker of fear and violence. And all the while, Jack the Ripper eludes police and attacks in the shadows.
LIGHT AND SHADOW provides a rare view of an extraordinary and terrifying time in London from the perspective of an artist, the man who captured the iconic images of Ripper's victims.
The story offers both light and shadow - all good photographers need both.
MARTIN: 20's. An Irish photographer from a working class family. He abandoned Ireland to pursue something greater in London. Very ambitious, artistic and tries to adhere to a moral code. He falls for MARY JANE and aims to marry her and bring them both to a higher status.
MARY JANE KELLY: 20's. An Irish prostitute who has fallen under the control of JOSEPH BARNETT, an abusive cockney pimp. MARY JANE also fled from Ireland from a broken home and abusive parents. She is smart, tough and doesn't suffer fools gladly. She is a friend and supporter of other women of the night. She is the sole provider for JAMESY, a homeless and mute teenager.
REMBLAKE: A local actor whose fame is growing due to his starring role in "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." He is a strong supporter in the power of the theatre, and stands against censorship of any kind. He is in a secret sexual affair with GEORGE LUSK.
GEORGE LUSK: A succesful business man and Christian. He leads a group of devout Christians around Whitechapel to feed the poor and make converts. He names himself head of the Whitechapel Vigilante Comittee as the murders ramp up. He resents REMBLAKE and feels he was forced into a sinful, homosexual relationship.
SUSANNA LUSK: Wife of GEORGE LUSK. A devout and caring woman, she genuinely cares about the poor and activeley reahces out to the women of the street encouraging them to seek a better, more moral life. She senses a growing distance from her husband and ascribes it to his obsession with finding the killer.
WARREN: Chief of Metropolitan Police. Drinks heavily and practices law with a heavy hand. The Ripper murders leave him feeling helpless and he slides down a slope of drunkenness, abuse and desperation. His two biggest opponents are LUSK and INSPECTOR ABBERLINE.
ABBERLINE: A scientist and investigator. Brilliant almost to the point of dysfunction, he wants to catch the Ripper by using the latest scientific methods.
JAMESY: A teenage mute whose parents have died. MARY JANE watches over him. He is a curious boy and we get the feeling he has something to say, but not the voice to say it. He begins working as MARTIN's assistant.
LIZ: A prostitute with a fiery attitude and plenty to say to the self-righteous Christians who insist on shoving their religion on her. A heavy drinker. She is one of the victims on the night of the double event.
BARNETT: A pimp. Will come on in a friendly way at first but is quick to violence and cruelty. He makes arrangements with "Johns" on the streets and takes control of MARY JANE's money. He is willing to kill anyone who gets in the way.
ANNIE: A prostitute. She used to have a house and husband, but lost evcerything and turned to the streets. She is suffering from illness but works anyway. She considers repenting and leaving prostitution but is talked out of it. She is the second victim.