Tuesday, January 12, 2010

the leaves start to turn, it’s fall now

Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk are a musical match made in heaven. Their songs are rich in nostalgia, self-awareness, and seem to adapt to their subject matter like a glove conforming to the contours of a hand. Their work, from original musical The Unauthorized Biography of Samantha Brown to song cycle Tales from the Bad Years to their adaptation of popular children’s book Henry and Mudge, ranges in audience and style, but their ability to communicate emotion and perspective is something that always seems to remain constant.

Recently, Kerrigan and Lowdermilk announced on their website that they will begin licensing Party Worth Crashing, a “do-it-yourself concert” in which performance companies can put on a custom-made song set of Kerrigan and Lowdermilk songs for a simple licensing fee. This marks a first in many ways: this is the only kind of show with Kerrigan and Lowdermilk music currently on the market for licensing (as far as I know), this is the first time I’ve heard of where a concert set up of a composer’s music is available for licensing as a complete show, and this is the first opportunity to hand pick the story arc and specs of a performance.

A common complaint of many people who don’t care for musicals is that they feel like musicals are just plays in which people “randomly burst into song.” Where big production numbers and spectacle used to play a huge role in the musical theatre experience, I think the videos and performances featured in this blog alone shows a trend against that impulse (even though this is still a philosophy going on strong on Broadway). Up-and-coming musical theatre works can be just as insular as they are performative on the exterior. They are more personal, able to even stand alone out of context, and they communicate universal themes in small windows of opportunity where a character can pour their heart out, rail against the man, or tell a story that reflects the truths of his or her experience. Kerrigan and Lowdermilk’s Party Worth Crashing is our first glimpse into the possibilities created by this movement, and depending on the success of this project, could become an option offered by many composers, widening the range of what exactly constitutes as “musical theatre.”

In any case, I am very curious and excited about this and can’t wait to see people starting to take advantage of the offer. To check out the information for licensing Party Worth Crashing, take a look at their page here. For the licensing fee, a company has a pick of any song in the Kerrigan and Lowdermilk songbook. So, to end out this blog entry, as well as give some audio/video clips to be entranced by, here are some videos of the songs I would have to have in my set if I was assembling a performance of Party Worth Crashing:

"Run Away With Me" sung passionately by Michael Arden

"How to Return Home" gorgeously rendered by Krysta Rodriguez

"Just This One Time" hilariously and sweetly performed by Morgan Weed and Caissie Levy

"Not a Love Story" delicately told by Phoebe Strole

"Girl Who Drove Away" brilliantly interpreted by Jenni Barber

"Say the Word" sung with touching humility by Julie Reiber

"Not Her Way" given attitude and flair by Kate Shindle

"Pretty Girl Blues" with soaring harmonies by Helene Yorke, Caissie Levy, and Dennis Moench

"My Heart Is Split" sung by the beautiful Kait Kerrigan herself

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