3 men / 3 women / 4 -6 ensemble (men & women)
Man 1: Paolo Cruz, “top gun” astronaut
Man 2: Gobind Singh, astronaut / engineer
Man 3: Hector, head of Mission Control
Woman 1: Cassandra, astronaut / botanist
Woman 2: Noriko, scientist at Mission Control
Woman 3: Mars Apparition as Flamenco Dancer
Male Ensemble 1 – 3 —Ground Crew at Mission Control, various roles
Female Ensemble 1 – 3—Ground Crew at Mission Control, various roles
Time & Action
2033 – 2036
The action takes place at NASA Mission Control, in space en route to Mars, and on the surface of Mars.
“One Way Trip to Mars” is set in 2033. Scientists the world over have agreed that humans must adapt to becoming an interplanetary species in order to assure survival. With Earth facing cataclysmic decline astronauts Paolo and Gobind are chosen to establish a base on Mars to serve as the first of many human colonies to follow. In taking on this mission the two male astronauts must leave behind their partners Cassandra and Noriko. In the euphoric cloud of fanfare under which they are celebrated after having been chosen, Paolo assumes an identity based more on hubris than on love. Cassandra, who herself was passed over for the mission, sees this transformation in Paolo and laments that he appears to care more about the Mars mission and his own glory than about her.
While en route to Mars Gobind dies tragically, leaving Paolo to carry on by himself. After Paolo successfully lands on Mars, nuclear terrorism and cataclysmic effects of climate change render Earth increasingly uninhabitable and cause communication links to go down. With Paolo now cut off from humanity, NASA recruits Cassandra for an emergency last mission to Mars with a storehouse of genetic material. The heroic staff at mission control, in carrying out this emergency mission, demonstrate selflessness, service, and the potential for transcendent love that defines what is best in the human race.
When Cassandra launches she does not know if Paolo is even still alive; and Paolo, alone and isolated for years, is unaware she is coming. While he sinks into suicidal despair, Cassandra is increasingly empowered. Finally, against all odds, she crash lands on Mars and they are reunited.
Because this show is a rock opera it is important that the music remain true to the genre. With the use of video projections in place of complicated sets, the authors have intended for a simple stage that allows maximum flexibility for the imagination and creativity of the director. Because action often happens simultaneously in different locations, scene changes are not indicated. A few staging instructions are included in bracketed italics, but they are generally intended as guidelines and are open to interpretation. The character embodying Mars (a Flamenco dancer) is intended to appear in numerous scenes throughout as a figment of Paolo’s imagination.
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The following link is to video clips of One Way Trip to Mars at Waterville Opera House August 27, 2017. Since that time the show has been updated.
Thanks to Joel Congleton, who shot and edited video of the entire show.