“Enough’s enough with kids being mean," Jill Nesi said. She’s spending seven days a week writing songs about bullying. The four-time Emmy nominee has been holding auditions for an upcoming musical, along with Nick Fradiani Sr., father of American Idol winner, Nick Fradiani.
Many of the kids involved are bully victims. Lines in the songs send messages like, "it doesn’t have to be this way, the mean and hurtful things they say.”
Tyler Altomari, 13, of New York says for years he’s been called “baby, cry baby, gay, f*****, and things like that. It’s just not acceptable. It just makes me feel like I’m less than I am.”
His older sister, Dominique, 15, says, “The biggest struggle is to not go down to their house and give them a piece of what I want to say.”
She was excited to hear about Nesi’s musical in the works, “Stand Up and Speak Out.”
Nesi has been reflecting on all the bullying stories she’s heard, and writing songs about it. “I had such a reaction from parents," she said.
The Altomari’s parents wasted no time driving Tyler to Connecticut for an audition. Dozens of kids and a few adults will take the stage in November for a fundraising showcase of the musical.
“We’re casting it as songs, not parts. Once we do the actual musical, a lot of the kids that tried out will definitely have a foot in the door,” said Nesi.
Nesi has hired several people to help in the production including Greg Nobile, a Tony Award winner from Branford and Nick Fradiani Senior. Fradiani admits with his busy schedule, he was hesitant, but Nesi's talent and passion won him over.
"This was something special and for me it was different because I don’t really co-write songs with people,” he said. Fast forward a few months, and they've already written two songs together.
“There’s certain things we don’t want to say in the musical like suicide," Nesi said. "We don’t want to give kids any idea.” The musical will highlight that there is help for victims and they don't need to live in silence.
“You read between the lines and listen to the songs, you’re going to hear what we’re trying to say,” Fradiani added.
The musical score showcase of “Stand Up and Speak Out” songs, is scheduled for November 17 in Clinton. The actual musical production will be chosen in the coming months. The goal is to raise enough money to get the musical in theaters and classrooms across the country. If you'd to help, you can contact Nesi at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out her website.