Book by Eric Sirakian
Music & Lyrics by Alex Ratner
Adapted from the novel by Janet Fitch

Los Angeles, early 1990s. When Ingrid Magnussen, a beautiful, imperious poet, receives a life sentence for murdering her lover, her daughter Astrid embarks on a four-year odyssey within the L.A. foster care system. Under the auspices of her foster mothers Astrid transforms like a chameleon, breaking away from Ingrid even as she unwittingly inherits some of her mother's demons. Rooted in the pop/rock musical landscape of southern California, White Oleander captures the seesaw of nature and nurture, begging the questions: How much do we owe ourselves? How much do we owe our parents? Can we truly escape those who made us?


"I Got Me A Carpenter" (from White Oleander)

(ft. Kathy Voytko)

February 25, 2019 | Broadway’s Future Songbook @ Lincoln Center


Having just witnessed her mother get arrested for murder, Astrid turns to poetry for guidance and finds it in the Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone.

Meet Starr Thomas, an ex-topless dancer turned born-again Christian and Astrid's first foster mother, as she proselytizes to Astrid and everyone else in Sunland-Tujunga.

Flashback to a sunny afternoon drive down I-405: Ingrid surprises Astrid with an impromptu road trip to Mexico, though there's something besides vacation on her mind.

MacLaren Children's Center, L.A.; three foster homes later.  Astrid finds a kindred spirit in Paul Trout, a fellow foster kid and aspiring cartoonist.

Sheet music for "Nothing Like the Pictures" is available HERE at

Late one night, Astrid's pregnant roommate Yvonne confides in Astrid her deepest hope to one day reunite with her child, whom she will put up for adoption.


April 16-18, 2015
Calhoun Cabaret  |  Yale University
A Senior Project in American Studies for Alex Ratner
Produced through special arrangement with Janet Fitch and Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures

Astrid Magnussen - Sarah Chapin
Ingrid Magnussen - Caroline Rouse
Starr Thomas/Debby - Lucie Ledbetter
Olivia Johnstone/Susan D. Valeris - Zina Ellis
Claire Richards/Linda - Lucy Fleming
Barry Kolker/Uncle Ray/Ron Richards - Jacob Osborne
Carolee Thomas/Yvonne - Alyssa Miller
Paul Trout - Miles Walter
Marvel Turlock - Anya Richkind

Directed by Leora Morris (Yale School of Drama '16)
Produced by Catherine Chiocchi
Stage Managed by Natalia Forbath
Music Directed by Alex Ratner
Set Design by Leyla Levi
Costume Design by Eleanor Michotte
Lighting Design by Gabrielle Roberts
Sound Design by Damla Ozdalga
Graphic Design by Bobby Dresser