Saturday, June 1 at 3PM
Sunday, June 2 at 7PM

Participate in a talkback after the reading on Saturday, June 1 at 3PM and share your thoughts on the show with the creative team!

On the outside, high school junior Jes Holt is doing everything she’s supposed to. On the inside, she’s never felt more alone and longs for something she can’t name. But when Jes meets Cody, Jes’s world comes alive. Set against the backdrop of the greatest drug crisis in our country’s history, She Reached for Heaven is an original coming-of-age story about the devastations of addiction, and one woman’s journey to choose life rather than escape it.


About the Creative Team

Oliver Houser (music & lyrics)

Winner of the inaugural Stephen Schwartz Award, the ASCAP Foundation Sammy Cahn Award and a Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellowship, Oliver Houser (he/him) is an intersex musical theater artist who is passionate about creating original life-affirming work that facilitates healing and connection. Houser has headlined at the Kennedy Center and presented his musicals at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, The Village Theater, London’s Other Palace Theatre, the NAMT Festival and beyond. Houser’s original musical, XY, inspired by his journey to embrace his identity as an intersex man, was one of three finalists for the 2022 Relentless Award, the largest prize presented to an unproduced musical.  For more information about Houser, explore

Hunter Bird (book)

Hunter Bird is a director, writer, and maker of new work. Book writer: She Reached for Heaven (Oliver Houser), The Golden Record (Angela Sclafani), and The Pansy Craze (Mason Alexander Park). Directing credits include London’s Charing Cross Theater, Ars Nova, Roundabout Theatre Company, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, 5th Avenue Theater, McKittrick Hotel, Signature Theatre, Village Theatre, Getty Villa, 59E59, NAMT Festival, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and Skylight Theater. Developer credits include XY (Oliver Houser, Relentless Award Finalist), Crashlight (Celeste Makoff), The Other Side of Paradise (Angela Sclafani), and Elsewhere (Nikko Benson). Associate/assistant director credits include Broadway, Manhattan Theatre Club, Center Theater Group, La Jolla Playhouse, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Geffen Playhouse, National Theater of Scotland, and the National Tours. Jonathan Alper Directing Fellow (MTC, 2017 & 2019), Civilians R&D Group (18/19), Samuel J. Friedman Assistantship (MTC, 2015), SDCF Observership, UCLA Emerging Director Award, and the Gilbert Cates Fellowship, Line Producer ANT Fest 2018 at Ars Nova.  For more information about Bird, explore

Meet the Cast

Antonio Cipriano (Jagged Little Pill); Nick Gaswirth (How to Dance in Ohio); Charlie Pollock (Pretty Woman); Julie Reiber (Jagged Little Pill); Ayla Schwartz (Frozen); Ash Barton; Michayla Catron; Evan Gray


About SOMA backStage Reading Series

The SOMA backStage Reading Series emerged from SOPAC’s Creative Community Brain Trust contributor Dana Spialter and her local theater company SOMA Stage. Throughout the series, creatives will present readings of new plays and musicals written by or starring South Orange and Maplewood’s (SOMA’s) theater professionals in the Loft at SOPAC. Audience members can join in on the creative process at talkbacks following the matinee readings and share their thoughts on the new works with the creative teams.


About SOMA Stage at SOPAC

Creative Community Brain Trust contributor Dana Spialter and her local theater company SOMA Stage proudly support and partner with SOPAC.  SOMA Stage is a new non-profit theater company based in the South Orange/Maplewood (SOMA), NJ area that provides our many local professional theater artists with a creative home in their backyard and allows our community to support and enjoy the talent of their neighbors.


Accessibility & Accommodation

 For details, visit our Accessibility page.

If you or a member of your party needs assistance, please notify SOPAC at the time your tickets are purchased. Contact the SOPAC Box Office at (973) 313-2787 or