In Greek mythology, when Cassandra, the princess of Troy who was had the gift of foresight, tried to warn the people that the city of Troy would be destroyed in the Trojan War, her dire predictions were ignored. A large wooden horse opened up one night and Spartan soldiers spilled out to attack the city.
Patrick Longo of Schenectady, felt similar dismay 13 years ago when he warned friends about the dot-com bubble.
“Like Cassandra, my words often fell on deaf ears,” he said.
It was 2001. The teacher of literature, drama and poetry was living in San Francisco and had just finished writing a play.
“We had a fun time writing the music for the play. I felt like the music and telling the story was something I wanted to explore next, so I decided to write a full musical,” he said.
Longo said that at the time, the dot-com boom was in full swing.
“Everyone was leaving work to go work for the dot-coms,” he said.
Longo said he warned his friends about his doubts, but no one listened.
“They called me a ‘Cassandra’ — seeing the future but no one believing you,” he said.
Longo said that experience gave him the idea for his next project.
“It felt like the perfect thing to explore with music,” he said.
Longo headed back home to the Capital District and spent the next 13 years teaching himself how to write a musical.
“Something inspired me one day, and I went to my sister’s piano and started writing music for the show,” he said.
More than 75 songs and a lot of hard work later, Longo will present “Cassandra: The Musical” at Proctors this month.
“Cassandra” is a sung-through musical that examines how any one person can be a “god” of their day, but no more or less a petulant child if they live their life out of balance and forget their humanity. Longo said those “gods” can include musicians, politicians, religious figures and corporate titans.
“What we have done is change the myth a bit,” Longo said. “We show people that there are still Cassandras of today, and people who listen to their inner instincts and the people who don’t believe them until it’s too late.”
Long said that without the fear and respect of mortals, the ancient Greek gods would have diminished power over their world.
“It’s about this idea of our right to choose who we are and what we want to be versus what we are expected to do … how we are torn by duty to family or an occupation versus your true calling,” he said.
The musical uses several forms of Western music to reinforce the themes in the play, including rock, pop, Broadway, choral, blues, jazz, barbershop quartet and gospel.
Longo raised the money for the show through Kickstarter.com, an online fundraising platform.
“It felt perfect for what I wanted to do,” he said. “I raised $23,000, which allowed me to secure the space and pay the musicians and writers working with me.”
Longo held auditions in New York City.
“The show was supposed to have many leads, but we whittled it down to three. We have a 10-person chorus and three leads,” Longo said.
“Cassandra: The Musical” will be presented as a limited engagement performance at Proctors and filmed and submitted to theaters across the country.
Longo said there are two messages at play in the musical — believe in yourself and believe in what you feel.
Cassandra prophesies the end of the world and must convince the common folk and powerful people of the day that they are on a course to destroy themselves. In her journey, she must develop the courage to believe in herself, break free of the curse that was put upon her and unite humankind in one purpose.
“Whether it’s putting on a musical or finding your dreams — people we put on pedestals are just human,” he said. “Believe in yourself and your own abilities and powers. So many of us just never take the chance.”
See “Cassandra: The Musical” on Friday, Sept. 12 at 8 p.m. or Saturday, Sept. 13 at 2 p.m. or 8 p.m. at Proctors in Schenectady. Tickets start at $25. For more information, visit cassandrathemusical.com.