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 (or Paolo’s mother) 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
2008 – 2037
The show starts in a police station in 2008 when two families of future astronauts meet by coincidence. Action takes place in 2033 at NASA Mission Control, in space en route to Mars, and on the surface of Mars.
In 2008 two young children, Cassandra and Paolo, meet briefly in a police station as their respective families are torn apart for immigration and drug violations. Fast forward to 2018 where they unwittingly meet again at a conference for Mars exploration. At dinner they discover their childhood connection and begin a lifelong relationship. Both are in training as astronauts with their sights set on reaching Mars.
Action begins in 2033, by which time 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 another male astronaut, 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 men must leave behind their partners Cassandra and Noriko. In the euphoric cloud of fanfare under which they are celebrated after having been chosen, Paolo gets caught up in his ego. 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, taking with here a storehouse of genetic material and an artificial womb with which to populate the red planet. 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.
While en route, Cassandra loses radio contact with earth and, not knowing if Paolo is even alive, continues on the long voyage to Mars completely cut off from humanity, while 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. 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.
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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.