Breathe: Portraits from a Pandemic


New Work
Writers: Rob Rokicki Rebecca Murillo Douglas Lyons Jodi Picoult Timothy Allen McDonald Daniel J. Mertzlufft Doug Besterman Zina Goldrich Ethan Pakchar Kate Leonard Marcy Heisler


Show Information

Number of Acts
First Produced
Contemporary, Multiple Settings
Time & Place
Mexico City, New York City, March-June 2020
Cast Size
Orchestra Size
Ideal for
College/University, Community Theatre, Diverse Cast, Ensemble Cast, Professional Theatre, Regional Theatre
Casting Notes
Mostly male cast
Includes adult, late teen, mature adult characters


The musical Breathe begins on March 13, 2020. The world has come to a halt as COVID-19 case numbers rise. New York City ER nurse Allison is stuck in Mexico with Jerry, an architecture student and her one-night stand. Max and Theo--locked down together in their New York City apartment--have to re-evaluate their relationship. Wall Street executive Kate and her lawyer husband Adam struggle to parent their three children after their nanny quits and the schools close down. NYC police officer Shawn--a Black man--and his teenage son Devon must reckon with their own biases in the wake of George Floyd’s death and the subsequent protests. Vivian says good-bye to her husband Charles, bitter at what she gave up in her own life to make him succeed--but then faces a gut-wrenching reality.

Composed of five intersecting chapters, Breathe not only chronicles the experiences of New Yorkers (and people around the world) during the COVID-19 pandemic, but also looks forward to a time when the pandemic has ended. With a story conceived by Jodi Picoult and Timothy Allen McDonald in 2020, and a collaboration of multiple song-writing teams, Breathe is an honest look at the struggles everyday people faced as case numbers rose, and the world wondered when life would get back to normal.

Lead Characters

Breathe: Portraits from a Pandemic guide sections