Although this show is filled with beautiful music to induce colorful strength and endurance, this story was inspired by pain. This production gave Payne a coping outlet to turn hurt into music and a story, birthing Belle Terre. “[It] was inspired by a life event where I had ended a friendship. Losing someone to death is harder, but severing a friendship with someone who is still around, is much more difficult,” Payne reveals. Despite the fact this is a quite common human occurrence, it is also one of the many themes in the musical.

“I wanted to tell this story because there are many things in black families that aren’t talked about or they’re glazed over. This is a story that I know will resonate with so many families of color that I HAD to tell it,” he shares.

Payne received a second opportunity to tell the story this year. The second performance workshop of this show was August 5, 2022 to August 7, 2022. The workshop performances took place at the Union for Contemporary Arts and the Charles B. Washington Library.  

With each workshop, Justin develops a new understanding for writing and storytelling. “[He learns] everything that is and should be said, [needs to] be intentional. Denise Chapman, Artistic Director of Theatre at the Union for Contemporary Arts helped me to find the voice of the story and pinpoint it,” Justin tells. “Losing songs and dialogue is never easy but I learned to part ways with unnecessary parts to make the story stronger.”

As much as the cast and crew would love to see this production on stage, Payne knows that practice makes perfect. Belle Terre is the fourth musical that Payne has created.  Therefore he knows there is more work to be done to turn Belle Terre into his full vision.

“I’m hoping to get a small production as the next step but realistically, it could stand to get one more workshop to flesh out a few more parts of the story,” he shares. A show about the importance of community could use the valuable community of Omaha to help bring it to a stage. “People can support by purchasing the (Belle Terre) EP available on all streaming platforms. If people would like to donate, they can email me at justin.payne92@hotmail.com

If you missed Belle Terre, but want to support Justin Payne, there is another workshop performance for their musical called Heaven Come Home. “[It] is a story of forgiveness, second chances, and the idea of experiencing “One More Day” with a loved one who has passed on. It also deals with grief and how other life decisions can be made from experiencing what some call “complicated grief.”

Payne shares a cautionary warning of sensitive topics of the show. “Before the public comes to this reading, they should know that there is very strong language and themes and there could be a few triggers and stressors concerning gun violence. They should also expect to leave healed and charged to continue cultivating those relationships in their lives so that no time is wasted at all.”

Heaven Come Home will be at University of Nebraska Omaha in the Weber Fine Arts Black Box Theatre Saturday, August 20th, 2022.​​ It is 11:00am to 12:30pm CST. The workshop performance will be hosted by the UNO College of Communications, Fine Art and Media located at 6505 University Street S, Omaha NE 68182. Tickets are free, but must be reserved online. Please visit Heaven Come Home on Facebook to receive the link.

Belle Terre, byaward winning composer and playwright Justin Payne, is a story about a young woman named Abigail Jones. This musical follows her life after a recent career change has left her facing many of life’s challenging questions about the people around her and herself. These questions have landed her into Belle Terre. This New Orleans themed musical will show you the importance of community, sharing, and being truly free.

Although this show is filled with beautiful music to induce colorful strength and endurance, this story was inspired by pain. This production gave Payne a coping outlet to turn hurt into music and a story, birthing Belle Terre. “[It] was inspired by a life event where I had ended a friendship. Losing someone to death is harder, but severing a friendship with someone who is still around, is much more difficult,” Payne reveals. Despite the fact this is a quite common human occurrence, it is also one of the many themes in the musical.

“I wanted to tell this story because there are many things in black families that aren’t talked about or they’re glazed over. This is a story that I know will resonate with so many families of color that I HAD to tell it,” he shares.

Payne received a second opportunity to tell the story this year. The second performance workshop of this show was August 5, 2022 to August 7, 2022. The workshop performances took place at the Union for Contemporary Arts and the Charles B. Washington Library.  

With each workshop, Justin develops a new understanding for writing and storytelling. “[He learns] everything that is and should be said, [needs to] be intentional. Denise Chapman, Artistic Director of Theatre at the Union for Contemporary Arts helped me to find the voice of the story and pinpoint it,” Justin tells. “Losing songs and dialogue is never easy but I learned to part ways with unnecessary parts to make the story stronger.”

As much as the cast and crew would love to see this production on stage, Payne knows that practice makes perfect. Belle Terre is the fourth musical that Payne has created.  Therefore he knows there is more work to be done to turn Belle Terre into his full vision.

“I’m hoping to get a small production as the next step but realistically, it could stand to get one more workshop to flesh out a few more parts of the story,” he shares. A show about the importance of community could use the valuable community of Omaha to help bring it to a stage. “People can support by purchasing the (Belle Terre) EP available on all streaming platforms. If people would like to donate, they can email me at justin.payne92@hotmail.com

If you missed Belle Terre, but want to support Justin Payne, there is another workshop performance for their musical called Heaven Come Home. “[It] is a story of forgiveness, second chances, and the idea of experiencing “One More Day” with a loved one who has passed on. It also deals with grief and how other life decisions can be made from experiencing what some call “complicated grief.”

Payne shares a cautionary warning of sensitive topics of the show. “Before the public comes to this reading, they should know that there is very strong language and themes and there could be a few triggers and stressors concerning gun violence. They should also expect to leave healed and charged to continue cultivating those relationships in their lives so that no time is wasted at all.”

Heaven Come Home will be at University of Nebraska Omaha in the Weber Fine Arts Black Box Theatre Saturday, August 20th, 2022.​​ It is 11:00am to 12:30pm CST. The workshop performance will be hosted by the UNO College of Communications, Fine Art and Media located at 6505 University Street S, Omaha NE 68182. Tickets are free, but must be reserved online. Please visit Heaven Come Home on Facebook to receive the link.

Avatar photo
About Author

Pranjal Doorwar