Relapse (with composer Molly Joyce)

Marina wakes up in a hospital room after a serious drug overdose. As she pieces together the details of how she wound up so debilitated by her dependence on the pills, the formidable challenges of overcoming her addiction slowly come into fresh focus. In the chaos of influence from those who want her to make a full recovery and those who would perpetuate her cycle of dependency, Marina has to decide for herself if and how she will move forward.

Commissioned and premiered by the Washington National Opera and The Kennedy Center as a part of the American Opera Initiative, 2019.


First and Foremost: Beliefs for a Creative Life

Commissioned by Creative Mornings Inc, this 20-minute piece is an adaptation of the five beliefs outlined in the Creative Mornings manifesto. The piece is written to be performed by an ensemble mixed of professional and amateur singers and a three-piece band. Pulling from found and original texts about the joys and meanings of creativity, First and Foremost illuminates our understandings of how and why we make art in a dynamic, unique, musical way.

Premiered February, 2018 at Creative Mornings Inc. Watch a video of the full performance here.

Musical Theatre

And Then He Painted The Sky

Celebrating one of the greatest artistic triumphs of all time, And Then He Painted the Sky tells the story of Michelangelo painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, using the artist’s own poetry and letters as the entire text.

See footage from And Then He Painted the Sky here.

Musicals for Young People

This trilogy of original musicals were commissioned and premiered by Playing for Others in Charlotte, North Carolina. James has been writer-in-residence since 2016.

From Where I Stand

Exploring the ways we experience insecurity and the ways our insecurities manifest in our relationships, From Where I Stand features five protagonists each navigating insecurities to varying degrees of success. A musical performed by teens for an audience of everyone. 3w, 2m, large ensemble with many opportunities for small features.

The Great Big Work

A musical of four stories of four kinds of forgiveness: forgiveness of self, forgiveness of someone who has apologized, forgiveness of someone who hasn’t apologized, and forgiveness of uncontrollable circumstance. Written for an ensemble of ten teen performers.

Ready. Set. Go.

A song cycle about self-acceptance, featuring a wide range of stories and musical styles. Written for an ensemble of ten teen performers.

To inquire about any of these pieces, please contact James directly at jamesholodkennedy [at] gmail [dot] com.