LIKAH!, from Rochester creator, is story of loss & learning goes from monologue, to musical, to book, looks to go off-Broadway

ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) — Communicating loss can be difficult for anyone, especially for kids.

So a local artist, Deborah Haber of DEEP Arts, set out to tell a story based on her own dog, Likah. This journey started when she got Likah, as a companion for her older Border Collie, whose partner died. The older collie would reject Likah. In time, both the older Collie and Haber’s sister would pass away.

“So it was a life journey, and it happens, and it was reflecting into what happened with Likah as a puppy, and what happened to her older sister,” Haber said.

Not too long after, her chronicles of Likah became a story, called “LIKAH!: A Puppy Musical” and a performance.

“2016 Fringe Festival was our very first reading, and it was over at Blackfriar’s Theatre,” she said. “We had two songs, and that was it.”

Even with those songs, it wasn’t too much more than a monologue. Haber had a couple of actors, but she had a secret weapon:

She was working with the EMMY-nominated Casey Filliaci.

“We basically took those episodes, and that’s how the show started,” she said, referring to the small stories and anecdotes she would record of Likah.

With about a song per episode, a musical was born. Haber and team saw the potential, and the show grew from there. After fostering connections Disney, she began working with puppet director James Silson.

“For a story like this that deals with different topics… Having a puppet allows the show and allows the messaging to be that much more accessible,” he said.

Those puppets include two stories is also told through these two squirrel puppets, who act as narrators/Greek chorus to move the plot along.

The squirrels are funny and the show and book are happy — Haber describes the music as toe-tapping — but at its core are life lessons, and the discussion of loss, and learning.

“What it is in the progression of the show there’s a lot of little life lessons,” Haber said. “It’s about life coming into the house, however, there’s always a new day, and there’s always someone right there with you, and that’s the messaging.”

In addition to the musical, there Likah’s story is in the form of a children’s book, and now has licensed dog food, and dog toys.

Currently, Haber is looking to perform the show in Orlando. Then from there, the team is looking to take LIKAH! off-Broadway.

The LIKAH! team works with Lollypop Farm to help dogs find their forever homes.

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