Monday, March 8, 2010

How Can You Run With A Shell On Your Back?

I was first charmed by the music of Alan Schmuckler and Michael Mahler at last year’s NAMT festival with their presentation of How Can You Run With A Shell On Your Back? Unlike anything else at the festival, this adorable musical combined many popular fables into a story about a group of middle schoolers in detention. Think Breakfast Club meets Aesop. And while the show featured a strong book with likeable characters and funny one-liners, there was also some pretty fantastic music that ranged in style but always featured memorable tunes. The title song, in particular, is a great example of the blending of teen angst with a hummable score.

There are huge things on the horizon for this creative team, especially with a television development gig with ABC after their 15-minute web presentation of a musical comedy series Boyfred. Fascinatingly enough, the project came about after a hold up in getting the rights to adapt The Secrets of NIMH for a commission at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire. Having already tentatively written songs for that show, I can already see a lot of potential if the rights ever come through. Here is one particularly haunting song, beautifully rendered by Angela Ingersoll titled “If Jonathan Were Here”:

Just as a fun addition, a Michael Mahler song that I’ve been finding absolutely infectious as of late is “The Girl Next Door.” It makes even the occasionally absurd lyrics somehow make sense:

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