Musical gives fresh look at sensational crime


A chorus girl, actress and model, Evelyn Nesbit has been described as one of the first to be labeled as an “It Girl.”

Nesbit was at the center of what was billed as one the crimes of the century when in 1906 architect Stanford White was killed by Nesbit’s husband Harry Thaw, whose father was a railroad tycoon. Nesbit alleged White raped her when she was intoxicated or unconscious, but she later had an affair with him.

ND ATI LAB 0312 photo

A reading, which includes musical numbers, of “Evelyn and the Eternal Question” is set for 2 p.m. March 16 at the Carmel Clay Public Library’s Community Room. Admission is free for the Actors Theatre of Indiana’s Lab Series program. A registration link is on

Scott said she knew the story of “Girl in the Velvet Swing” and E.L. Doctorow’s “Ragtime,” both movies about Nesbit.

“I used to work at the Indiana Historical Society, and they had a tiny collection of books in the break room,” Scott said. “One of the books in the collection was ‘American Eve’ by Paula Uruburu, which gave a more detailed account of Evelyn Nesbit’s life. I started reading this book at the beginning of the #MeToo movement and during the (Supreme Court justice Brett) Kavanaugh hearings, and a light bulb went off in my head. I saw the pattern of history repeating itself, particularly when someone speaks truth to power and gets damaged by it. Every popular reference to her is always told in cartoonish ways where we forget that Evelyn was a teenager put in impossible situations. The choices were limited then. So, I wanted to explore this story from a victim’s advocacy perspective. Not to judge her or make her a cartoon, but to demonstrate how easy it is to get trapped in these situations with dangerous people.”

At first, Scott was interested from what she described as a true crime nerd’s perspective.

“I love ‘Ragtime,’ and naturally, all of her photos are stunning, but I did not look too deeply into her life until I started writing this musical,” Scott said.

This will be the first public reading of the story. Previously, the musical had a series of closed-door readings.

Darrin Murrell, ATI associate artistic director, is serving as the stage manager.

“The room at the library is perfect for what we are trying to accomplish with this series as it brings the audience up close and in the same creative space with the actors and allows the focus of the event to be on the words and literary structure of the piece rather than what it might look like in full production,” Murrell said. “This is an important stage in the development of any new work, and to be nestled among all the literature and reading-focused energy and community as well as the amazingly beautiful setting of the library make it a dream collaboration for this project.”