The story of Haeo


Illustration by Elissa Dames.

Laythen Streit, Staff Writer

Adventure is something we all crave. We all love action, mystery and suspense in the stories we hear and tell. If you, yourself are one of these tastes then you are just like junior Elissa Dames and senior Christian Dames, who have both written Haeo.

A student created musical, Haeo tells the story of a failed British trade merchant and explorer, Sylus Jones. After getting a second chance from Spain, Sylus sails to the island, Haeo, where he comes across natives. However, after spending time on the island and hearing from the native, Aia, Sylus chooses to leave the island untouched and is forgotten from history.

Creating the scene, making the characters, writing the music and creating the story takes crazy amounts of imagination. The two used both of their talents when writing the musical. Elissa created the music, Christian wrote the script and the both wrote lyrics to the songs. Many people do not make it as far as Elissa and Christian have. This is truly a tremendous accomplishment and these two should be proud of it.

When making the story, Christian based the story off of Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the “ New World” and how he was the head of the world’s discovery of this land. While he was indeed the most well known for discovering America, Columbus also managed to destroy a few societies of natives while he was there. Christian wanted to showcase what the “idealized” Columbus story would be and how it is different than what reality was.


What inspired you to create this musical?

Christian: Haeo has been a bit of a passion project for me. I had the idea for the character, Sylus Jones, and the story as early as my eighth grade year. It bounced around in my head for years as I considered writing the story as a novel and then a play. It wasn’t until my junior year, when I saw The Greatest Showman, did I settle on the idea of writing it as a musical. I pitched my idea to Elissa and we began writing it. Now that the script is finished, I can only see Haeo as a musical. It’s as if it was always meant to be one.


Elissa: Christian had the story idea since he was an eighth grader, and after a few years, he finally convinced me to get on board with writing a musical. I’m glad he did because even if it doesn’t get performed, the process of writing a musical taught me so many things. I learned how to write a script, write songs that helped lead the story, and I learned how to use Logic Pro X to compose all the music through the computer.


How long did it take to fully complete the musical?

C: Elissa and I started brainstorming ideas for the musical in January of 2018, but didn’t start heavily working on the script and music until that summer. We completed the first draft of the script in July and then we began to revise the script in August.


E: It took about three months to get the rough draft, including the script and the songs, completed.


Was it difficult to create it without help from the school?

C: While my original intention with the musical was to put it on with the school, I tried not to make that the main reason for writing it. As Elissa and I continued to bring this cast of characters to life, we began to move away from just writing the story solely for the school and instead for the sake of telling the story we wanted to tell.


Would you consider this a great accomplishment?

C: Of course I do! Elissa and I devoted our entire summer to this musical. I am immensely proud of her. She is so musically talented, I would never have been able to write the musical without her.


E: Definitely. Most people are shocked when we tell them we wrote an entire musical for our summer project.


Do you believe the public will enjoy this production?

C: I believe the underlying message that Haeo tells is one that will touch people. It points out the irony of how we portray Columbus and maybe will make people look at other areas of society in a new light. However, the serious message doesn’t hinder the lightheartedness of the script, which I felt was important with this story.


E: I think the public would enjoy anything that is put on by a group of dedicated, ambitious students. It doesn’t necessarily have to by our musical, but anything that was created by students.


While the musical was in production, did it change from its original form?

C: Parts of it did, but not drastically. We built up some characters later on in the writing process and may have cut a scene or two along the way, but overall, the original story is the same as the final version. We knew what story we wanted to tell from the beginning and tried not to deviate from that too much.


E: I would say the only thing that really changed were some of the characters. We changed a few roles that were originally smaller to larger roles. Other than that, the story stayed the same throughout.


What software did you use in order to effectively ensure this musical’s successful creation?

E: We used Google Drive in the beginning so it was easier to share ideas. We used Logic Pro X to write most of the music, however we usually started writing the song on guitar or piano, then transitioned to Logic.


If you so desired, is there anything you plan to change in the musical?

C: I am fairly satisfied with the final draft we have. I am happy with the story we told, the characters we developed and the music. The music is probably my favorite part. I don’t think there is something that I will change. I am choosing to look forward and see what we come up with for set, choreography and costumes.


What was the process like as you wrote the musical?

C: When writing the musical, we knew that the music needed to be integral to the story. I felt that there needed to be a reason for a song to be in the scene, and if it didn’t propel the story forward, the song wasn’t necessary. This way, when we wrote a song, we made sure we wrote it first. That way we could write the scene itself around the song, allowing the song to truly be part of the scene.


E: The process was long. Writing the music first meant I had to do my part before Christian could move on with the script. Although, it all worked out in the end.


Where do you hope to see this musical going in the future?

C: I really want to see it performed. My original goal was to put it on at the school this year, but when that didn’t work out, I chose to look forward. I hope that I will get the opportunity to put it on at college and direct it with Elissa. I cannot wait until the day I see it on the stage.


E: I want to see people enjoy it. Not only from the audience, but when it is put on, I want the cast and crew to enjoy it as well.


Do you see yourself writing another musical in the future?

C: Yes! I had a blast writing this one with Elissa and I am excited at the prospect of writing another. I have a few ideas already in mind that I am eager to get started on. Haeo was an eye-opening experience where I realized that this is a true passion of mine. It’s a lot of work, but it’s work that I truly love.


E: Christian has already been talking to me about another musical. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing musicals. However, a break wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Maybe when I’m not so busy, we can get started on writing the second musical. I look forward to it.