TADA! Youth Theater’s first full-length musical, Common Ground, is open now. 

To celebrate, we’re uplifting the project and its composer Julia Jordan Kamada’s reflections on her return to a favorite childhood stage.

April 20, 2024-May 11, 2024

Book & Lyrics by Lisa Diana Shapiro
Music by Julia Jordan Kamanda

with Additional Music by Georgia Stitt

SynopsisAmerica is a story that we keep telling. Until it comes true. It’s 2018. Immigration crackdowns. Family separation. Life is scary for immigrants in the U.S. But 15-year-old Ysabella Martinez hits town with stars in her eyes, ready to conquer New York and win fame and fortune as an influencer. She joins an after school program for fellow immigrants from all over the world, finds a prickly new best friend in NYC-born Emma, and begins to build her new life. But when ICE detains her and her family, she and her new friends discover that America is nothing like they thought it was.  

A Full Circle Moment

Julia shared some reflections via her newsletter (sign up here):

TADA! Youth Theater was the best experience of my life as a young performer in New York City. From age 9 through 18 I performed in 5 mainstage productions, met best friends that I am still in touch with today, and grew exponentially as a vocalist, actor and dancer in an off-Broadway professional theater setting.

I’ve always had a deep love and respect for Janine Nina Trevens, TADA’s co-founder and artistic director. She taught us city kids how to be professional, how to show up on time, how to be accountable for our work, how to engage the youngest member of the audience, how to create magic on stage.

Even after graduating high school and college, Nina would come support my shows and we stayed in touch through the years.

Summer of 2020. Nina reached out and asked if I would be interested in composing TADA’s very first full-length musical, Common Ground. It had been in development for a few years but they were looking for a fresh take on the music, something that would resonate with the teen performers and audiences that they were looking to attract for this poignant production.

Imposter syndrome is real, folks. I really wondered how I could possibly pull something like this off? I’d never done it before and I wasn’t sure if I had what it took – especially because I’ve always struggled with music theory and putting notes on the page. Many times throughout the process I got down on myself because I knew there was so much for me to learn and I was afraid to let people down.

Four years later, alongside librettist and lyricist Lisa Diana Shapiro, we wrote over 20 different songs, 16 of which made the final cut into the show. With additional music by Georgia Stitt, orchestrations by Manny Vidales, and choreo and direction by Alex Sanchez, this show has just taken on a new life and I couldn’t be more proud!!

Common Ground opens April 20th and runs through May 11th at TADA! Youth Theater 15 W. 28th St. New York, NY 10001.

At the end of the day, who are we but eager kids just trying to learn and explore new avenues of self-expression? We should never stop being curious and actively growing and shaping ourselves, even when that imposter voice tells you that you’re not good enough. You are.

Thank you Nina, for the years of continued love and support; and for trusting me, pushing me, and believing in me, the way you always have.”

Common Ground is open now and runs through May 11.