ITHACA, N.Y. — A new, locally produced musical will debut in Ithaca next week. “Katrina,” written by Liz Bauman and David Frumkin, and directed by Priscilla Hummel, is centered on the people who experienced the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

Hummel, who is the founding artistic director of Walking on Water productions which is presenting the musical, said “Katrina” will allow people to step into the show and delve into the New Orleans community and the lives of people who lived through the tragedy. The music, which draws inspiration from its setting, creates the “strong bones” of the production, Hummel said, to create an evocative show.

“The melodies are beautifully simple, they’re easy to hook into and the lyrics are so poetic and powerful,” Hummel said. “There’s something special about the way music moves someone emotionally and can move them on a very deep level.”

In August 2005, the catastrophic hurricane struck the Gulf Coast and devasted New Orleans. It killed nearly 2,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Many remember Hurricane Katrina at that time as a media-saturated experience, Hummel said, but “Katrina” will center on the people of New Orleans “as they navigate the raging waters of natural disaster, personal tragedy, racism, and politics.”

(Courtesy of Walking on Water Productions)

Playwrights Bauman and Frumkin did extensive research for the production, Hummel said, digging into reports and news articles.

The musical is presented by Walking on Water Productions. The company was founded by Hummel, who grew up in Ithaca and returned to the area about three years ago. She said it was her dream to start a musical theater company and thought Ithaca, with its thriving arts community, would be the perfect place. Walking on Water’s mission is to “present engaging, entertaining, and elevating works that stimulate the senses, intrigue the mind, woo the heart, and anchor the soul,” the website states. “Katrina” is the company’s third production.

“We want our audience members to be able to experience shows that are going to make them think, so that it’s not purely an experience about entertainment,” said Hummel.

“Katrina” features 20 musical numbers and a diverse, 12-person cast playing ordinary people of New Orleans who “rise to the challenge” after powerful people leave devastation in their wake, the show description states.

“I really encourage our community to come see this powerful and uplifting show,” Hummel said.

Here’s a look behind the scenes of a dress rehearsal for “Katrina” on Friday, July 26. Photos by Sam Fuller/The Ithaca Voice.

The show premieres Thursday, Aug. 1 and will run at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 3 p.m. Sundays at the Kitchen Theatre. For tickets and more information, visit the website here or call 607-272-0570.

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.