Published: Mar 3, 2004
Daniel Everson often has found solace in his music. Four
years ago, hours before his mother’s death from ovarian cancer, the high school
senior sat at the family piano to compose a deeply personal six-minute
“It was the most traumatic thing, and I decided that the only way
that I was going to get through this was that song,” said Everson of the ballad
he performed at her funeral.
Four years later, UT senior Everson once
again would share his music – this time by creating an elaborate musical
production, Fate. For six months, Everson sacrificed sleep and social life in
order to compose an original score, write a 72-page script, and direct a
15-member cast for the two-hour drama that benefited the American Cancer
Inspired by recollections, Fate depicts a mother’s death and a
family’s struggle for peace as she reaches to them from an unseen realm. While
“She’s flat-lining!” pierced the air in Allen N. Reeves Theater during a
second-night performance in February, Everson looked on – hearing his script
echo his past.
“I ask of you all to open your minds,” sang Julie Garte powerfully. But in
truth, it’s Everson, through his words and operatic music, asking the audience
to reflect on significant issues such as life, death and destiny.
the play, mystical creatures – Vabulas and Darvinians – act as guiding forces by
steering intuition or through seemingly innocuous actions such as scattering
papers. After her death, the mother, played by Leah Monzillo, finds herself amid
this altered plane while trying to communicate with family, particularly her
Lyrical platitudes such as “the walking dead can
change the living” and “fate is destiny” reflect Everson’s belief in the
afterlife, and that the spirit of his mother is indeed watching. In the play,
the troubled daughter Ashley, played by Kim Morgan, is assured of her mother’s
presence through the appearance of dimes the mother places before
The message, says Everson, is that all events – good and bad –
happen for a reason.
But beyond Everson’s philosophies is Fate’s core
strength, his original melodies – a musical fusion of classical opera, jazz and
Long-time UT music professor David Isele, who advised Everson,
has joined others in marveling about Everson’s accomplishment and his
“I don’t call it a student production,” said
Isele. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but this is a notch way above
what you would expect a student production to be.”
Praise also has come from
Tampa businessman Tom Hall, a fine arts supporter with Broadway connections, who
encouraged Everson to pursue his dream and also helped fund the $10,000
“He has a wonderful talent,” said Hall. “A lot of people in
theater don’t hit their stride until later in life, so he’s getting a good early
After show’s end, the capacity crowd gave Everson and his cast a
standing ovation. Within the 180-seat theater were family members in the second
row. His father, Craig Everson, and his beaming sister, Kristine Potochar, said
the play rang true.
“I’ve been crying the whole time,” said Potochar, who
drove to Tampa from Leesburg, Va. “I got goosebumps at least five times. He
brought to life a lot of what happened.”
As the lights went on, Everson
was swarmed by congratulating friends and family. He complimented the cast’s
flawless performances, and then stopped for a moment to assess the special
“We were heard,” he said with pride.
Do lines such as “Why us? Why her?”
reflect your own reaction to death?
Yes. I have questioned a lot what
happened and why. Nothing is fair in life. This play really tells the audience
that nothing is fair, but yet there is hope.
These are all questions that
people ask themselves. Maybe not aloud, but to themselves. To actually witness
somebody saying it out loud is completely different.
Where do you find inspiration for your music and
I guess my inspiration just came from what I wanted to tell
the audience. If you listen to each song, it’s stories being told. It’s never
the same repetition. As the script developed, I got more excited and wanted to
do other things.
Will this play be an act
of closure for you?
Yes! I think that’s why it’s so stressful – like
it’s almost there and all these little problems keep happening. I know this will
be closure for everything. I think that I’ll have an ultimate peace when this is
done. With the show and with my feelings from my past.
What do you think determines a person’s
What they do in their life. It’s like following your
temptations. If you’re a strong enough person to follow those temptations, you
should be a strong enough person to take the responsibility for
How accurately do the characters
depict actual family members?
I think at moments they are very, very
similar. However, I think at times when you put on a drama of this nature you
have to go to the extreme. I’m putting in a lot of harshness and aggressiveness
that I didn’t go through. However, I know that other people have gone through
that. But I know what I was feeling inside, and I think that’s where it came
What will be your next
To find a job. Because honestly I’m thinking that I can do
this stuff and someone needs to see it.
What kind of person was your mom?
My mom was
like the nicest person in the entire world. She would have done anything for me;
I don’t even know where to begin. If it had to do with me, she was involved with
everything, with all of us, my sisters and my dad.
Do you think that she’ll be watching?
think she already is.