Description / Development History

Breathe is a cycle of 7 musical fairy tales that celebrate gay and lesbian life with humor, passion, magic, and joy.

Originally presented in 1996 (as Fairytales) in Provincetown MA, Breathe officially premiered at the Bailiwick Rep, Chicago (directed by David Zak) where it won the 1999 After Dark Award for Outstanding New Work. Additional productions include Orlando (2016), Dallas (2009) Richmond (2005), Philadelphia (2004), and Omaha (2003 – nominated for 8 TAG Awards). In November 2012, Breathe was revisited in a staged reading at The York Theatre in NYC (directed by Bill Castellino).

Press Quotes

“Martin’s technically complex and intensely melodic music, which at times recalls the work of William Finn or even Stephen Sondheim, is matched by thoughtful lyrics from Biello. Martin has forged a sophisticated score that’s not a pastiche of pop stylings but a unified and quite beautiful composition. A very likable and moving show.”  ~Chicago Tribune

Breathe is sacred … powerful … hilarious … tribal … passionate … exquisite.”  ~WFNX-FM Boston

Breathe is the must-see theatrical event of the season. It doesn’t matter if you’re gay, straight, bi-, male, female, young or old – Breathe goes beyond sexual orientation to reach into our humanity. One of the best musicals I’ve seen in years.”  ~Omaha Weekly Reader

Breathe consists of seven life-affirming vignettes… and demonstrates why the creators are well regarded as a composer-lyricist team. Martin’s Stephen Sondheim-inspired music is evocative and complex but accessible. Biello’s lyrics capture the essence of the moment and the spirit of a situation.  Musically, this is a satisfying show.” ~Philadelphia Inquirer

“Dan Martin and Michael Biello’s wondrous new musical Breathe celebrates gay and lesbian life with a joy and candor – amid a glorious collection of songs – as few have before. Breathe is not only one of the year’s best, but it enriches the soul while it celebrates the human spirit.”  ~Gay Chicago Magazine

Breathe is a bold and deeply emotional piece that’s something like a combination of Stephen Sondheim and Jason Robert Brown. Split into seven distinct sections, the show focuses on the power, courage, wisdom, beauty and magic of gay life.” ~Philadelphia Weekly,

“A joyous new musical … Breathe honors the extraordinary in the ordinary, offering a refreshing and uplifting take not just on gay and lesbian life, but on life in general.”  ~Richmond Style Weekly

“If there is any justice in the world, Breathe should end up on Broadway as a defining piece of gay American theater.”  ~Outlines

In My Body

Robb McKindles and company perform “In My Body” from Breathe at the 1st Philadelphia Fringe Festival, 1997

Music from the Show

Jillian Louis and Christine Barbush perform this excerpt from “Genealogy”.  Jeff McDonnell is the musical director/pianist.  From the 2004 Philadelphia production (directed by Bill Buddendorf).

The 7 tales in Breathe are connected by a series of interludes we call “Rituals” – a theme and variations sung by the ensemble as they transition from one tale to the next. Seth Peterson is the soloist with Christine Barbush, J.J. Criss, Jillian Louis, and Robin Marcotte rounding out the ensemble. Jeff McDonnell is the musical director/pianist.