The Show

The Ape Woman is a Rock Opera written and composed by May van Oskan which chronicles the bizarre and haunted journey of Victorian circus phenomenon Julia Pastrana. The work features fifteen original songs performed by a seven piece band, threaded together by the larger-than-life recollections of four narrators. The madcap ensemble of storytellers and musicians invites the audience into their late-night sideshow tent, full to claustrophobia with the trappings of the most decadent and exploitative age.

With a dynamic ranging from somber aria to electric glam rock anthem, The Ape Woman unfolds this compelling true story of a Mexican Indian woman born with a thick beard and dark hair covering her body. A talented singer and dancer, Julia was well educated and spoke three languages. She married her manager Theodore Lent, the last of several showmen who owned her throughout her career. She died in childbirth in 1860, after which Mr. Lent had her body and that of her infant son embalmed. He continued to showcase the mummies across the globe. The remains of Julia and her son traversed the continents for over 100 years, eventually claimed by time and obscurity. That is, until 2013…


May van Oskan (author, composer, lead vocals, ukulele) is based in San Francisco. She earned her BA in creative writing from Flagler College (awarded magna cum laude), and studied circus arts, dance, acrobatics and clown at the New England Center for Circus Arts and the San Francisco Circus Center. She is a founding player with The Senseless Bureau comedy improv troupe in Oakland, and has been performing Shakespeare outdoors with The Vineyard Playhouse for five years. She has also composed and directed music for several plays, including Shakespeare adaptations. Upcoming projects include the release of a trilogy of novels and an illustrated concept album about space.


Nina Violet (viola, violin, clarinet, vocals) is a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter. Recent releases include Lose Strife and We’ll Be Alright.


Marciana Jones (autoharp, vocals)


Michele Jones (electric guitar) is a private music teacher on the Island of Martha’s Vineyard and a mother of five.


Adam Lipsky (piano, organ)


Jerome Badot (bass guitar)


Ashley Clayton (bass guitar) is a multi-instrumentalist and luthier based in San Francisco.


Leo Suarez (percussion)


R. Krenson Myers (percussion)


Christopher Kann* (Theodore Lent)


Christopher P. Kelley (Theodore Lent)


Christopher Roberts* (Hermann Otto)


Bernard Vash* (Hermann Otto)


Adam Petkus (The Doctor)


Paul Padua (The Doctor)


Justin Taylor (The Sideshow Barker)

*Appearing courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States, appearing under a Special Appearance Contract.

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