New Musical Theatre Project: “Chillicothe Is Burning”

Chillicothe Is Burning®

A Musical Stage Play about the Heroin Epidemic Along the Ohio River with Original Music

Theme: Juliet and Romeo in Junkieland
Project Vision:  Tell the accurate, grim story of personal, family and community destruction from the American Black Plague.  A story that digs deep into the causes and consequences of this explosive epidemic.
Plot:  Julie and Rome are teen lovers along Ohio River.  Rome OD’s, Juliet wants justice and enters the corrupt world of legal/illegal drugs.
Background:  Drug overdose is #1 cause of death of ALL Americans < 55.  It is projected to grow by 200% in next 5 years and go global with whole countries becoming narco states.   This is a living, real horror story.
Project Versions:  Graphic novel, novel, short stories, radio drama

  • Julie and Rome are young, innocent meet and are going to get married.
  • He dies of OD and Julie vows to find culprits and bring to justice
  • Julie enters the dark world of a strip club, addiction and drug crime, pharma company and local doctor corruption
  • She meets and challenges the players
  • Deviation:  She ends up negotiating with Mexican drug lord!
  • Crucial Scene/Climax:  Julie is killed and the bad things go on
  • No happy ending


Act 1
Julie and Rome meet in small city along the Ohio River.  Their love is true and innocent and offers the promise of a better life for them.  The promise of hope. At the same time, along the Ohio River, jobs and money are rushing away.  The town is being abandoned by companies, politicians and it’s own people. Experiencing this Julie and Rome want to stay and start a family, to rebuild.  At the same time, addiction is rushing up from Mexico and flying in pharma company sales people from Connecticut.  Rome’s divorced mom has a car accident, gets painkillers. He has a lacrosse injury, “borrows” the pills, get addicted in one day and ends up dead in crack house.  Julie ends up in basement crematorium of the funeral home watching Rome’s body in a cardboard box get shoved in the fire. She vows to Lee Ann, the mortician, she will find out who is at fault and bring them to justice.

Act 2
The trusted family doctor, is where Julie starts.  He is said to be at the “country club.” At the same time, Baby Girl: a dancer feeding 4 kids, Virgil: the biker/bouncer, Mr. Blackler: the pharma company CEO flying into town. All converge on “The Second Circle Gentleman’s Club.”  Julie drives by and sees Dr. Patel’s new yellow Corvette in the lot. In the club parking lot, Julie finds a cash/drugs/passport/bank book stash.  She goes inside and meets Shade the bartender/dealer but is also oddly powerful.  Baby Girl is dancing, Virgil is bouncer. Seeing Dr. Patel and Mr. Blackwell in the VIP, Julie confronts the doctor and Mr. Blackwell.  At same time, El Capo and henchmen come into club for their stash, violence is threatened. Shade intervenes and introduces El Capo and Mr. Blackwell.  They negotiate and decide to split the local drug business. The Mexican cartel gets the illegal drugs; the pharma cartel gets the prescribed drug business.  Julie negotiates with El Capo also. Yikes! Julie then confronts Blackler and the doctor again. They flee the club.

Act 3
Baby Girl is furious that Julie ran off her customers.  She gets call from baby sitter and her youngest child is being dropped off at club.  Baby Girl gets stressed out. Even though she’s been clean, she gets a hit from Shade, goes to parking lot.  Virgil, Shade and Julie stand on club porch watch chaos in parking lot: Doctor crashes car, Mr’ Blackwell takes limo to airport, Baby Girl OD’s in her car.  EMTs arrive. As EMTs wheel Baby Girl’s body away, Virgil and doctor and Julie chase Mr. Blackwell to airport. Shade slips syringe to Dr. Patel and warns Julie will expose them all.  Baby Girl’s Body bag go across the street to portable morgue in Baptist church parking lot.
In limo, Lee Ann is driving Mr. Blackwell who is furious his business deal is interrupted.  At the airport, Julie jumps from car and runs down Mr. Blackler. He brushes her off, threatens and gets in private jet.  Back in car, Julie calls the police, Dr. Patel injects her in neck with OD, but pretends to try to revive her. Virgil looks on, confused.  Weeks later beside new grave, at Julie’s funeral, Lee Ann reads verses from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Shade and the doctor look on from cars parked nearby.  Shade passes the doctor some drugs. The doctor realizes Shade is engineering all the death and is the devil. Shade is pleased and an animal roar in the distance is heard.


Main Characters
Julie – Heroine. Just graduated high school. Pretty, but not striking, country girl. Innocent, comes from family going back in town. Working class.
Rome – Working class, handsome, not bright country boy. Plays football, hunts, fishes, likes cars.
Lee Ann – The funeral director. Like a middle aged country and western singer. Always well dressed in country style and black. She’s seen a lot and more dead bodies everyday.
Baby Girl (Alice) – Comes from deeply dysfunctional family. Mom committed suicide when addicted, so did dancer, slightly older sister. BG has 4 kids from 3 husbands. Some mixed-race. Was addicted clean for few weeks now. Very pretty, but losing all body fat to addiction. Just wants to feed her kids and keep her car running, maybe someday….
Virgil – Good old boy redneck, grew up in bad trailer park with drunk dad who beat him and his mother. Big guy, racist through and through, likes his Harley with over sized confederate flag on the back. Was in military. Now is club bouncer and keeps the lines. Very straight about boundaries but has always liked BG.
Shade – A shadowy figure. The club bartender and local dealer. Always well dressed in “cowboy formal.” Also from beaten childhood, but no one ever knows much about him. Seems to always be around and nearby.  Polite and graceful but also edgy, always on, never seem to sleep or be tired. Works for Mr. Dios. Sometimes he has subtle magical powers, maybe.
Mr. Dios – The club owner and powerful man though rarely seen.
Mr. Blackler – CEO – CEO of the pharma company selling painkillers nationally. Head of billionaire jewish family in Connecticut very driven and ambitious, for his family.  Travels to Ohio River valley cities to push doctors to prescribe more painkillers. A man in a hurry.
Dr. Patel – Local family doctor, well liked and trusted. Still makes house calls. He also over prescribes and runs a pill mill which has made him wealthy. He dreams of opening a community clinic with his name on it.
El Capo – The Mexican dealer’s and drug mule’s boss in the region. Also, a driven ambitious man.

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