The Papers

A musical staged reading

book, music & lyrics by Rob Baumgartner, Jr. & Nathan Dame

Friday, Saturday and Sunday, April 5-7, 8pm

Helmerich Theater

$35, $30 mbrs.

A musical staged reading

Exploring the themes of obsession, manipulation, and the moral implications of pursuing artistic legacy at any cost, The Papers, a Musical, is a reimagining of Henry James’ classic novella, The Aspern Papers, set against the backdrop of contemporary Key West. Never more relevant than in our current times, The Studios of Key West is proud to bring this adaptation by New York-based theater artists Rob Baumgartner, Jr. and Nathan Dame to life in a staged reading.

An ambitious Jewish academic from New York travels to the island to unearth the papers of Jeffrey Aspern, a forgotten gay literary artist from the 1950s and ‘60s. Uncertain of the papers’ contents, he stakes his entire future and scholarly reputation on being the first to uncover and interpret them. When his research brings to light shocking revelations about Aspern’s life and character, the scholar is forced to grapple with his own notions of morality, creative genius, and legacy.

More than just a riveting musical with a splash of mystery, this piece asks how we contend with the art and accomplishments of flawed people. How do we appreciate the achievements of heroes who may also be villains?

sponsored by Jane Gardner Interiors


Click the images for more info


Debra Barsha


Zachary Franchini

Belle Jampol

Belle Jampol


Lauren Thompson


John Swann


Jack Cummings III

Book, Music & Lyrics

Nathan Dame (left) is originally from Ogden, Utah. He lives in Brooklyn and makes his living as a playwright, screenwriter, and music director for theater. His musical based on Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, co-written with Rob Baumgartner, has been developed at Goodspeed Musicals and Bucks County Playhouse. He has had plays developed by Roundabout Theatre Company, Portland Center Stage (JAW Fest 2016), The New Group, and Barrow Street Theater. In 2024, his television series Gayle is being produced by H2L in Los Angeles and the UK, and his screenplay Human Behaviour is being produced by Agile Films in the UK and Pegasus Pictures in Iceland. He co-orchestrated the recent national tour of the new musical An Officer and a Gentleman. Some credits as Music Director include: Off-Broadway: Pretty Filthy (The Civilians, score by Michael Friedman, Original Cast Recording); Mr. Burns (associate music director, score by Michael Friedman, Playwrights Horizons); and regionally, Be More Chill (Two River Theater, Original Cast Recording). His work has been developed at Roundabout Theatre Company, The New Group, Arts Letters & Numbers, Barrow Street Theater, Good Company Theater, Bucks County Playhouse, among others. 

Rob Baumgartner, Jr. (right) is a DC native and New York based composer/lyricist and musical director. His original musicals include: The Jungle (Johnny Mercer Writers Colony, Roundabout Space Jam, Good Company Theatre), Adam Lives (Goodspeed Festival of New Musicals, Johnny Mercer Writers Colony, Baldwin Wallace First Takes, New York Theatre Barn, NAMT, Cap21),  Date of a Lifetime (Abingdon Theatre, NYMF, New Jersey Rep) Alone World (Lincoln Center Directors Lab, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, West Village Musical Theatre Festival-winner of Best Score), What the Moon Saw (Cap21), Under Construction (NYU), The Hole (St. Clements ’09), Radiant Ruby (Vital Theatre  Company ’05) and Lullabies.