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In Ingrid Michaelson and Bekah Brunstetter’s hands, ‘The Notebook’ isn’t just about a memory — it becomes one

The composer-lyricist and book writer of the new Broadway musical delve into their vision of the beloved romance.

(L-R) Bekah Brunstetter and Ingrid Michaelson at the first rehearsal for the Broadway production of “The Notebook,” 2024 (Credit: Jenny Anderson)

The first moment that composer-lyricist Ingrid Michaelson musicalized for “The Notebook” is when the character of Older Allie, who has dementia, remembers. “I felt like that was such a moment that sang, and so that’s where my brain went first,” Michaelson told Broadway News. Given the “Notebook”’s prominence in popular culture — be it the original bestselling novel by Nicholas Sparks or the movie adaptation starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams — there are numerous places where one’s brain could go first. It could have been the first time Allie and Noah meet, or the moment when they see each other again after years of silence, or the iconic scene in the rain. But it is telling that Michaelson’s impulse fixated on memory. 

“The Notebook” has always been about reflection. Speaking to an elderly woman with dementia, an old man reads the story of a love between two sweethearts, Allie and Noah. The beauty is: That old man is Noah and that old woman is Allie. In previous iterations, the emphasis is on the love story itself — not the reading of it. But Michaelson and book writer Bekah Brunstetter have chosen to balance their musical version by dividing the story into three stages of Noah and Allie’s lives (younger, middle and older) and dedicating significant attention to the older phase and what it means to deal with memory loss. In fact, Michaelson and Brunstetter, facilitated by directors Michael Greif and Schele Williams and choreographer Katie Spelman, endeavored to conjure the experience of memory onstage.

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