Chagrin Arts, the Hugh A. Glauser School of Music at Kent State University and the Ohio Innocence Project Partner to Bring the Musical True-life Drama 'Blind Injustice' to Northeast Ohio
FEB 18, 2020 — In July 2019, the Cincinnati Opera premiered the original work, "Blind Injustice," to sold-out audiences in Cincinnati’s famed Music Hall. Chagrin Arts, the Glauser School and the Ohio Innocence Project (OIP) have partnered to bring "Blind Injustice" to Northeast Ohio in March 2021. This will be the first major production of the piece outside of Cincinnati, and gives audiences the chance to experience what critics praised as “deeply moving and profound,” “intense powerful storytelling,” and “a must-see.”
"Blind Injustice" weaves opera, jazz, hip-hop and other genres of music around the true stories of six Ohioans who were wrongfully convicted of horrific crimes and unjustly imprisoned for years. As the Wall Street Journal noted, this powerful piece of musical theater “deftly explores the deeper issues behind bad convictions…. The exonerated characters are the heart of the piece and their voices and stories are vivid and immediate.”
The stories are based on the real-life experiences of six OIP clients: Laurese Glover, Eugene Johnson, and Derek Wheatt, three men known as the East Cleveland Three, who as teenagers were sentenced to life terms for a murder they did not commit and spent 20 years of their lives imprisoned before gaining freedom in 2015; Clarence Elkins, who served nearly eight years in prison for a murder and rape in Summit County that he did not commit before being released in 2005; Nancy Smith, of Lorain County, who served 15 years in prison for crimes against children that did not occur; and Rickey Jackson, who was sentenced to death and served nearly 40 years in prison for a murder in Cleveland that he did not commit.
OIP is one of the most successful innocence projects in the country and is responsible for the release of 28 Ohioans who collectively served more than 525 years in prison. On Mon., Jan. 27, Chagrin Arts director Karen L. Prasser presented OIP director Mark Godsey and Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, who co-founded OIP in 2003, at a private reception in Solon to launch the campaign for this production. Ms. Smith and Mr. Jackson, exonerees, were present, community leaders and project partners, including: Mayor Edward Kraus, City of Solon; Dr. Kent McWilliams, Director of the Hugh A. Glauser School of Music at Kent State University, along with voice faculty members Marla Berg, Timothy Culver and Kishna Davis-Fowler; Pierce Reed, Policy Coordinator & Systems Liaison from OIP; and Conductor and Stage Director and Dramaturg of the 2021 premiere, Andrew Grams and Robin Guarino.
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