Tamar of the River

Music & book by Marisa Michelson; book & lyrics by Joshua H. Cohen

Tamar of the River is a compelling and innovative music theater work inspired by the Biblical story of Tamar and Judah. In a war-torn world, where East and West are divided by a River red with blood, one young woman is called to raise her voice. As Tamar sets out single-mindedly in pursuit of peace, she journeys to a foreign land, finding a new family and unexpected love. Each decision that brings her closer to her goal also becomes a choice she struggles to accept.

Must one sacrifice their moral compass in pursuit of idealistic dreams? Is killing one’s lover ever justified? When everyone is certain they know the truth, how do we know whose voice to trust? Is there space for innocence in our modern world?

Tamar and the River was commissioned as part of Signature Theatre's American Musical Voices Project: The Next Generation. It had a three-week workshop there, directed by Matthew Gardiner. It was subsequently featured in the Songwriters Showcase of the NAMT 22nd Annual Festival of New Musicals.

Its world premiere was produced by Prospect Theater Company, September-October 2013. The production was nominated for two Drama Desk Awards, for Margo Seibert (Outstanding Actress in a Musical) and Brian Tovar (Outstanding Lighting Design).

For more information, visit the show's website.

Tamar of the River album cover

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Highlights video


The New York Times

"Alluring and lyrical."

Times Square Chronicles

"A thrilling piece of theatre... Joshua H. Cohen’s book and lyrics are touching and well thought-out. In a world where morality seems to have vanished and peace a concept hardly practiced, this piece lights the way to discussion. Marisa Michelson’s music and book is haunting and ethereal… Rarely do you see a piece that is so new and enchanting. This is a must see for musical theatre lovers."

NY Theater Now

"It's hard to imagine a more ambitious piece of musical drama coming out of indie theatre than Prospect Theater Company's production of Tamar of the River... The narrative takes on immense power through Michelson’s rich and distinctive score."


"Michelson’s challenging and tonally complex music is some of the most unique and beautiful I've heard in musical theater... The stellar cast effortlessly delivers this very difficult material while performing Chase Brock's visually appealing choreography, which turns human bodies into a rushing river."

Show showdown

The glorious Tamar of the River... is a must-see for anyone interested in nontraditional, engaging, and accessible musical theatre... The show is compelling, sexy, sometimes funny, and deeply emotional.


"Tamar of the River is simultaneously about as far away as you can get from Hamilton and as far away as you can get from traditional musical theater, which makes it Hamilton's diametrically opposed twin -- it's similarly ambitious and atypical, with a similarly unique take on the power of myth and history... The preservation of its cast album will hopefully lead to a well-deserved cult following."