Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Right to Sheet Music, or the Trading Game

I should probably be getting some much-needed sleep right now, but instead I got sucked into a fascinating new blog post from Jason Robert Brown's website about the online practice of "trading" sheet music, which can be found here. Through his correspondences with a particular girl who was offering his music up for trade, JRB argues artists' rights to be paid for their work. I weighed in with my own opinion and JRB's wife, composer Georgia Stitt, also lends her own take on the matter. It opens up a fascinating discussion, one that is both puzzling and necessary. A lot of the questions it raises aren't anything that the music industry hasn't been thinking about for years, but I definitely find this all a fascinating read and worthy subject of discourse.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Weekend in Review

Didn't get a chance to make it out to see the Nick Blaemire and Danica Dora concert last Thursday, the Kerrigan-Lowdermilk performance on Friday, or the Joe Iconis show on Saturday? Honestly, me neither. But though I'm still awaiting videos for Joe's show, the formers already have youtube clips up and running (and some of these are pretty awesome). Rather than describe them, I'll let you see for yourself.

Nick Blaemire singing (somewhat) original tune "Empty Handed":

Danica Dora singing "Slowin' Down":

And, though not an original tune but because it makes me incredibly happy, a cover of Justin Bieber's "Baby":

From the Kerrigan-Lowdermilk set, David Goldstein singing "Living the Dream":

Skylar Astin and Emma Hunton singing "Run Away With Me":

Friday, June 25, 2010

Oh No, Performers Coming Into Audience

Just had to share that I had a hilarious moment tonight seeing My Boyfriend Is A Zombie at Theater for the New City that had me laughing all night to myself because it reminded me of this Onion article. I think my intense discomfort from actors going into the audience stems from an incident as a kid seeing a Halloween parade go down the aisle at a play adaptation of Lyle, Lyle Crocodile put on by Honolulu Theater for Youth.

Perhaps the most fitting quote from the article?

"Oh, man, are they? Shit," one audience member was overheard saying as the energetic ensemble began filing down previously unseen stairs and past the front row. "Shit, shit, shit."

Also, on a completely different note: I love, love, love that Kerrigan and Lowdermilk will be doing an impromptu performance tomorrow at 6 at the Lincoln Center steps. If I wasn't going to be cooped up at work, I would be enjoying the sun and awesome music. Follow their twitter here to get the latest updates on the line-up. Looks like with all the concerts going on, this is going to be a new musical theatre kind of weekend!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Whole Lot of Concerts Going On

As much as I want to keep doing new posts of composer/writer profiles, so many things are happening this summer with many of my favorite writers that it's hard to focus on the past when so many exciting events are coming up in the near future.

First of all, I can't stress enough how great it would be to snag a $12 ticket, drink some coffee, and gear up for a late (but well worth it) night at Joe's Pub on Thursday to catch Nick Blaemire and Danica Dora (and friends!) do their thing. From a few performances I've seen of both talented songsters, you'll be doing yourself a favor.

Also, with Monday's free performance at the Astor Place cube still in the rearview of the Iconis vehicle, go revel in the Bloodsong love as Iconis performs at the Duplex this Saturday at 7. It's set to be an intimate evening with familiar faces and lots of whisky-soaked goodness.

In speaking of Joe, he and many other stars are set to perform at the Laurie Beechman's Sondheim Unplugged. And while Sondheim is hardly up-and-coming, the show features many great Broadway, Off-Broadway, and cabaret talents from around the city, including writers Joe Iconis and Katie Thompson, who I've mentioned a few times on this site. The show will be running every Monday through July at 7:00, and to be honest, any excuse to hear Katie reinvent a tune with her gorgeous voice is money well spent in my book.

Lastly, check out Amanda Green & Friends in concert at The Birdland (one of my favorite venues in New York) on July 19. As a descendent of musical theatre legend and the lyricist for short-lived High Fidelity on Broadway, she's worked with Pulitzer-winning Tom Kitt and is currently developing Bring It On the musical with Kitt and Lin Manuel Miranda which will premiere at The Alliance Theater in Atlanta in January 2011. The concert is set to feature Jenn Colella, Ann Harada, Andy Karl and Howard McGillin and should be a ton of fun, and read more about her on her website here.

And to end with a song, here's Will Chase singing one of my favorite songs from High Fidelity, "Desert Island Top 5 Break Ups":

Monday, June 21, 2010

Get Bunked!!

For fans of the music from Bunked! A New Musical by Bradford Proctor and Alaina Kunin, they've recently received sponsorship from LOGO and will be premiering the show at the NYC Fringe festival this summer! Read the Broadwayworld article here, and check out their website for when official dates are announced!

To get you started on the Bunked! love, here is some pretty, Shakespeare-infused music with the voices of Natalie Weiss, Morgan Karr, Jarrett Cato, Cortney Wolfson, and Andrew Cristi:

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tony Time

Something that has become a tradition for me is going to the Laurie Beechman come the Tony awards to drink and watch the ceremony on the big screen with other theater lovers. It started off because I just didn't have a television the first couple of years I lived in the city, but it's things like drama breaking out after a guy accidentally hit the girl next to him when Patti LuPone won for Best Actress in a Musical that keep me coming back. Every year I've gone to watch the awards with a different group of people-- some theatre fans, some just friends I've dragged along, and I've always been interested in gauging everyone's reactions throughout the show.

To be honest, I wasn't all that excited about the awards this year. As heartwarming as I find the well-crafted speech and as much as I love the thrill of seeing a solid performance, the actual race between the nominees didn't grab me in the way it did in the last few years. Part of this might be because I haven't gotten a chance to see as many of the shows as I would have liked. But a big part of it was the strange mix of nominees -- stacked categories of movie stars (yes, I'm talking about you, Best Actor in a Play) to categories that just pointed out the lack of original material (it seemed a waste that such an exciting category like Best Score was padded with Fences and Enron). Prior to the awards this week, I read this fascinating article from the The Times that seemed to perfectly sum up my feelings about what the nominations indicate about this past Broadway season and, upon revisiting it after watching the show, only seems to reinforce the way I felt.

Because there was something really interesting happening while I was watching the Tony awards tonight. I went with two friends: one who love musicals and another who knows absolutely nothing about theatre (she walked in wearing a soccer jersey, fresh from watching the World Cup Germany game at a bar in Bayside). And within the show's opener, both parties managed a sigh of relief when they found comfort in the familiar. For my theatre friend, it was seeing Kristin Chenoweth and Sherie Renee Scott doing their diva things. For my other friend, it was the music of Green Day and the tunes from Million Dollar Quartet.

There was, admittedly, a weird disconnect going on that seemed to permeate the ceremony. For example, I found it interesting that they allowed Green Day and the cast of American Idiot 2 1/2 songs (in addition to their later performance) in the opener after leaving them out of almost every major category, save Best Musical, Lighting, and Scenic Design. It was a blatant call out to the audience, not necessarily the one at Radio City, but to the younger, perhaps not as theatrically inclined set, using the asset of this popular music to prove the Tony's relevance. Contrast this to Catherine Zeta Jones's impassioned but comparatively stagnant "Send in the Clowns" or the expert and charming but not particularly inspired performance for La Cage, and the cross section of this past season on Broadway is a very disparate group of productions that seem separated between the new and the old. As mentioned in The Times articles, the perfect example of this divide came with the performances by Leah Michele and Matthew Morrison, neither of who were nominated for awards this season, and who each sang a Glee-esque take on a classic musical theater song, which only brought attention to how unnecessary the performance was in the context of the evening.

We were, indeed, quite lucky that many of the shows that did employ a "jukebox musical" formula were not really formulaic at all. Twyla Tharp's choreography is rarely, if ever, old hat, and Fela! was an intellectual and artistic feast in many ways. However, when it did come to original musicals, Memphis was forced to carry that torch practically alone, which is a burden for any musical, no matter how good it is.

This is not to say that I didn't enjoy the awards this year or that I don't feel that any of the winners deserved their honors. I thought this was a solid show, and I was pleasantly surprised by many of the wins and really celebrated with the actors as they got their honors. But I do think that this article, along with some of the questions raised by the ceremony, brings to light trends in what is being produced on Broadway and the increasing importance of seeking strong voices, both in performance and on the page, to fill those theaters. While there wasn't a ton of original material on Broadway in the Musical department, Off-Broadway was ripe with some great shows this past season, and I feel at ease that, with the writers I get to profile on this blog, there are a lot of writers with original, determined voices that will not only make it to the Great White Way someday, but will also defy all of the problems detailed in this article -- there are many composers who successfully merge the contemporary, the individual, and the traditions of musical theatre legend. This entry isn't meant to be a tirade on the Tonys, but a reassurance to the writers and shows who haven't made it there yet. I know the time will come... and when it does, we will all be happier for it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Live Free or Die

The girl power is palpable in Creighton Irons and Sean Mahoney's musical Factory Girls, a recent participant at the 2009 NAMT festival. Featuring folksy songs and a story about factory girls fighting for their rights in increasingly trying conditions as industries expand and grow increasingly competitive, this is an intricate musical that explores the plight of the American worker through the historic voices featured in The Lowell Offering, an influential company-sponsored publication written by women textile mill workers themselves. While the politics of this musical's plot seems heavy, the work features a lot of tuneful tracks, including a buoyant favorite of mine which is sung here by Brooke Sunny Moriber with Allison Cusano, Kate Ferber, and Molly Hager:

Check out more from Creighton Irons and Sean Mahoney. I'm sure we'll be hearing more from them in the near future.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Coming to Joe's Pub

If you look at the events on the calendar this month at Joe's Pub, there are a lot of exciting offerings, but the two that most get my attention are this week's The Civilians' "Let me Ascertain You" and the Nick Blameire/Danica Dora concert on June 24th. With tickets well under $20 each, I can't think of a better way to spend your night.

The Civilians' have already been mentioned here in reference to Michael Friedman, but I highly recommend checking out their cabaret-style show on Friday to hear the debut of new music from their upcoming porn musical about the adult entertainment industry. Having just finished writing a play last year about a porn-related adventure of four best friends (a play I tried to convince my writing partner to subtitle "A Play of Epic Pro-porn-tions"), I've been anticipating this project for a little while now. But in addition to Michael Friedman's musical talents, it will also feature music by singer-songwriter Jill Sobule. With the intimate space of The Public, I definitely think this will make for a thought-provoking night of entertainment. Also, for more Civilians goodness, watch this series of videos from their latest venture into the subject of divorce, which begins with this video about objects that were fought over:

You can find more videos here, ranging other topics and questions relating to the itemization and deconstruction of divorce.

Then on June 24th, Nick Blaemire and Danica Dora will be performing some songs with some friends at 11:30. While Danica Dora is not necessarily a musical theatre composer, her voice and music are beautifully complex and have produced this video which I absolutely adore: