‘Winghaven Park’ gets star treatment in New York reading

The follows a Hollywood starlet returning to her sleepy childhood hometown of Vashon Island.

After a sold-out developmental production on Vashon in August 2022, “Winghaven Park” is now attracting broader attention, with a star-studded private industry reading in New York City on Nov. 10, starring Broadway and television luminary Corbin Bleu in a leading role.

Bleu (“High School Musical,” “Little Shop of Horrors,” and “Kiss Me Kate), wasn’t the only star in the room — the cast of 16 actors also included Tony nominee J. Robert Spencer (“Next to Normal” and “Jersey Boys”), Autumn Hurlbert (“Something Rotten”), Alexandra Socha (“Spring Awakening” and “Head over Heels”), and other Broadway actors.

Gabriel Barre, an award-winning New York director, directed the reading; Zachary Kellogg led music direction.

With music, lyrics, and a book by islander Lisa Peretti, “Winghaven Park” follows Hollywood starlet Vera Webster as she returns to her sleepy childhood hometown of Vashon Island on a war bonds tour.

Set against the backdrop of World War II, her three-day trip turns into a journey of self-discovery as she navigates an estranged sister, a long-lost love, buried family secrets, and the pressures of a career on the cusp.

A contemporary homage to “Golden-age musicals” evoking the diverse musical styles of the 40s — swing, blues, lush ballads, and musical comedy — the show was a hometown hit on Vashon, complete with a rave review by journalist Mike James, who wrote, “Bigger audiences need to see Winghaven Park.”

For Peretti, the New York reading provided proof that her show — so well received on Vashon — had the potential to reach larger audiences and make them believe and root for the characters.

“It was thrilling to talk with the actors about Vashon, and the world we were trying to create in performance,” Peretti said, recalling the reading. “They regularly said how much they loved the music, the characters, and the multi-layered plot, so I was so pleased that the material and Vashon’s charm, and even its challenging history, resonated with artists in New York.”

Local investors, who followed the show’s development and gauged its impact on Vashon audiences, had supported the Broadway reading, she said.

“As a writer, this is an incredible gift — first that Drama Dock produced the show in its infancy, from 2019 to 2022, and coming out of the Covid pandemic, at great risk,” Peretti said.

The New York reading, Peretti said, was executive-produced by Louis Hobson, a producer and longtime actor in New York and Seattle. Hobson served as a consultant for “Winghaven Park” from its early days in 2022, and then stepped into the executive producer role in early 2023.

Daryl Eisenberg, a New York casting director, was also hired to dig deep into the New York talent pool.

Peretti had her own work to do, in preparation for the reading.

“My job as the writer was to do some re-writing, and write a new song,” she said.

What comes next for “Winghaven Park?”

According to Peretti, feedback from the private reading, attended by invitation by 30 people, will be collated and put into consideration for the musical’s next presentation in either New York or London — aiming to attract additional financial and creative investment toward a full production.

What won’t change, Peretti said, is the musical’s heart and soul, which was born on Vashon.

“Musical writing is a lot of re-writing and edits, but for those who saw the Vashon production, you will still recognize the story and characters, and music,” Peretti said. “It’s still very much a Vashon story.”