Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Obligatory Top 10 Post for 2011

'Tis the season for the end-of-the year best lists, and I am no exception to this time-honored blogging tradition. However, rather than listing my favorite shows from 2011, I thought I would change it up a little bit and list my favorite 10 new musical theatre composers/works I've discovered and gotten to know this past year (in no particular order-- I promise!):

There is not a performance where she hasn't set the stage on fire with her wonderful voice, awesome band/crew, and smoky songs. While I wish it didn't take so long for me to discover her music, she has quickly become one of the musicians this past past year I have been an evangelist for. Next year, she'll be the resident artist at both Ars Nova and Rockwood Music Hall, so expect to see even more of her (lucky us!).

The Shaggs by Joy Gregory, Gunnar Madsen, and John Langs
This show made my top 10 theatre things list for Crazytown, and I think this show will be on every top 10 arts list I will write for a long time. Heartbreaking, funny, and endlessly surprising, this show inspired me in every way possible and is a wonderful example of what the future of musicals can be.

Placebo: A New Musical by Danny Abosch and Joshua Borths
Listening to the recording for this new musical, I was amazed at how complex a story (and entire world) was built within this surprisingly layered and fascinating show. It was also nice to see such a large cast represented in a new musical that still blended larger life questions and intimate relationships with big songs and a big concept.


Speaking of podcasts, an amazing source of behind-the-musical goodness is listening to Musical Theatre Talk with Trish Causey. A musical theatre writer herself, Trish talks to composers/writers/performers/producers to find out about the process of putting a new musical on its feet.

Since finding out about them at the beginning of the year, I have been a huge fan of this company that promotes creative writing in schools by taking kids' short stories and turning them into musical skits. I've had the pleasure of seeing what they do in person, both as a volunteer and a spectator, over the past year, and all their work only further reassures me of the future of musical theatre.

The Civilians' Let Me Ascertain You podcasts
One reason I started this blog was because I loved how accessible new music was becoming through the internet. Youtube videos are a huge forum for new musical works, but I've absolutely loved seeing other ways people are bringing their shows to new audiences. Heidi Heilig and Mike Pettry have their fantastic The Time Travelers Convention podcasts, and The Civilians' are revealing their works in podcast form through their Let Me Ascertain You series (which you can subscribe to through iTunes here). Here's to hoping for more of this in the new year!


I owe a huge thanks to everyone who did the 5-question Q&A for this year's NYMF. It was wonderful getting to know your new shows and to see some of them kicking ass on stage.

Organized by the ever-charming Kyle Ewalt and Michael I. Walker, this regular event at 92Y Tribeca showcases some of the best up-and-coming musical talent in a forum where they can share new songs and talk about their creative process. While I've only gotten to attend one of these so far, I'm looking forward to going to many more of these in 2012.

The guys at The Online Musical have been busy this year with their mini-musicals projects. From Where's Waldo? to Pokemon, there has been lots of hilarity and musical adventures this past year in the form of these musical shorts.

While I have been aware of Michael Kooman and Chritopher Dimond before this past year, I have loved getting to know more about them and their work through their CD, Out of Our Heads, and their performance at the NYMF/ASCAP Showcase. They also just were awarded the Lorenz Hart Award from the ASCAP Foundation, so I can only imagine what the new year will bring.

More than anything, I just want to send out my sincerest thanks to all you readers and writers who have participated in the blog this past year. Whether new artists who I have gotten to know or writers I have been a long-time fan of, I really appreciate all of your help and input over this past year. Here's to seeing what new discoveries 2012 will bring!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Balls for Christmas

In the mood for a bro-tastic musical? The good people from Balls…the Musical?, by Bret Carr in collaboration with Mick Bonde, Brandon Ellis, Michael “Tuba” McKinsey, and Nick Verina, are offering a discount to see the show in the last week of its Off-Broadway run. Here is the info:

Following a sold-out and extended run at the 2011 New York Musical Theatre Festival, Balls…the Musical?, makes the move to Off Broadway for a limited engagement at Theatre Row.

Balls…the Musical? is a bro-mantic comedy about five overly masculine best friends learning how to live as fish out of water in the only business in the world where they are the minority...musical theatre.

SPECIAL OFFER: Tickets only $38! (reg price $69)

HOW TO ORDER: Visit www.BroadwayOffers.com and use code TRHHCBALLS

CALL 212.947.8844 and mention code TRHHCBALLS

RESTRICTIONS: This offer is valid for all performances 12/7 - 12/18. Subject to availability. Blackout dates and other restrictions may apply. Limit ten (10) tickets per order. Phone/internet order subject to service fee. All tickets include a $1.25 facility fee.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Keeping an Eye on Futurity

I mentioned in my holiday gift roundup that steampunk musical Futurity, with music by César Alvarez with The Lisps, lyrics by Mr. Alvarez, book by Molly Rice and Mr. Alvarez, will be featured in a concert at Joe's Pub this Friday at 9:30. Indie-rock band The Lisps will be singing songs from their concept album, also titled Futurity, and will be joined by Michael Ceveris and Ben Simon, Chelsey Donn, Grant O'Brien, Aaron Schroeder, Caroline Tamas and Jillian Tully, who perform on their soon-to-be-released album. Sample a couple of the songs by clicking the links below:


This is a musical of moving parts-- a show that transcends time, place, and technology through folksy song. I've heard about this musical for a while, especially with some friends being fans of The Lisps who have heard music from the show in various incantations, and there are a lot of exciting things up ahead for the show. The show will be having its world premiere at The American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA, in March, followed by performances at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, MN, in April.

Here's a little clip from the press release telling what the show's about:
Futurity: A Musical by The Lisps is an avant-americana indie-rock musical that follows Julian Munro, a Civil War soldier trying to invent a steam-powered mechanical brain that will solve all of humanities problems. Guided by his brilliant mentor, the famous metaphysician Ada Lovelace, Julian weaves an epic fantasy that folds a utopian, high-tech future back into the dark reality of war.

Crazy, right? Get you glimpse of Futurity at Joe's Pub on Friday by buying your tickets here.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Dissecting the Cow

Best part of Sondheim in conversation with Anna Quindlen at Barnes and Noble last night? When they both spoke of seeing a Mondrian retrospective and the effect it had on their outlook on art and life. Both of them spoke so eloquently and passionately about their realization that, in the process of watching Mondrian go from visually dissecting a cow to his Broadway Boogie Woogie, they were witnessing an artist coming into his own voice. For Sondheim, a similar transition came to him when he heard the score for "Company." More than anything, though, it also highlighted the importance of learning a strong technical foundation in order to break out and come into one's own.

An illuminating moment for them made for an illuminating moment for everyone in the room.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

All I Want For Christmas

Holiday shopping is always a stressful exercise, but during a time when it's the thought that counts, why not use this as an opportunity to share new music and writers with your friends and family?

Like last year, the go-to gift for any lyricist/composer/librettist in your life was Sondheim's first book, and this year its companion, Look, I Made a Hat, is hitting the shelves again just in time for the holidays. You can even get the "Hat Box" with both books -- if your musical theatre enthusiast hasn't already beaten you to the punch.

When it comes to recordings, there are a few go-tos that are topping my personal wish list and are becoming staples on my gift list for others. For stocking stuffers, look no further than Shaina Taub's EP, What Otters Do, which will be sure to charm any folksy, jazzy fans for only $3.99 a pop. Today also marks the official release of The Burnt Part Boys cast recording, a gorgeous little show that I loved at Playwrights Horizon last year (What are the chances for a recording of The Shaggs come next year? Now that would be a Chrismakkuh miracle). And if you or anyone you know doesn't have a copy of Kooman & Dimond's Out of Our Heads or Georgia Stitt's My Lifelong Love, you should get on that ASAP.

For a more creative gift that also supports new artists, try taking part in some crowd funding projects. Right now, Ryan Scott Oliver and Matthew Murphy are raising money through Kickstarter for a recording and performance of their show 35MM, the project that gave birth to favorite songs like "Hemming and Hawing," "The Ballad of Sara Berry," and, yes, "Crazytown." Depending on your donation level, you can score swag like the finished cast recording, signed posters, and even a limited edition photo print. You can also support the Steampunk musical, Futurity, by band The Lisps as they work to produce a cast recording of their show. Use the Kickstarter campaign to pre-order the album for loved ones, and follow it up with tickets to their Joe's Pub concert on December 16th.


If you would rather treat your friends to some quality time, drinking in the holiday spirit, there are many winter concerts on the horizon. My New York Christmas tradition involves Joe Iconis and family debauchery at Ars Nova for the Joe Iconis Christmas Spectacular. Strapped for cash? Check out free concerts from a ton of new musical theatre writers as a part of the Broadway's Future at Lincoln Center and at the NYTB D-Lounge on December 11 and 12.

As the year winds down, it's nice to remember what the holidays are all about: family, friendship, love, and good will. How can music not make its way into that equation?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The "I Want" Song -- Behind the Music-al

I am going to make a little confession: I think I love Adam Guettel. And not just because he's a wildly talented writer/composer, but also because, as I learned from his moderation of last night's Behind the Music-al at 92Y Tribeca, he's also just an incredibly sharp person who can easily and passionately discuss the craft of writing.

I've been meaning to attend one of the evenings in the Behind the Music-al series for a while. Organized by composers Kyle Ewalt and Michael I. Walker, this regular series features conversations with awesome musical theatre writers centered around a particular theme/aspect of contemporary musical theatre. Last night's theme was the "I Want" song, which made for some really fascinating conversation about craft and what role desires play in driving character and momentum for songs in a musical piece. With writing teams Ewalt & Walker and Julia Meinwald and Gordon Leary, in addition to Michael Holland, taking the stage to share some of their work and chat with Adam Guettel, the night featured some diverse work from extremely talented writers.

(Ewalt & Walker's "I'm No Hero," a song that was performed last night.
Performed here at ANT Fest by Jonathan Whitton and Michael Buchanan.)

What I loved about Adam Guettel's moderation was how much he challenged every writer who shared his/her work. Through conversation, he quickly picked up on interesting musical conventions/themes that seemed to characterize each songwriters' style, and he pressed the writers to explain their choices and how those musical choices interact in context to the whole work and with audience expectation. In all cases, this led to the writers sharing really great tidbits and insight into their processes and not only standing by their decisions, but being able to articulate why they made the creative choices they did -- from Ewalt & Walker talking about the soaring tenors in Separate: Battle Songs of Youth to Julia Meinwald and Gordon Leary's explanation of why many of their songs from Pregnancy Pact don't have buttons.

(Julia Meinwald and Gordon Leary's "Love Me Better,"
a song that was performed last night.
Performed here at ANT Fest by Ally Bonino.)

I think it facilitated very honest discussion, which was refreshing to see in a public forum. It was even strangely thrilling when, at the very beginning of the evening, Adam asked about how a song Ewalt & Walker presented was orchestrated beyond just the piano part, and it turned into a little back-and-forth on what it means to score economically and write with future performance groups (and their limitations) in mind.

The "I Want" idea also fit nicely into the evening because it was such an all-encompassing theme that runs throughout musicals. While on the surface, there is a common trope of a very direct "I Want" song, there was also mention and discussion of less obvious "I Want" moments, like the "I Am Who I Am"-I Am What I Want song and the "I Don't Want" song. There was also a lot of talk about role pop music plays in contemporary musical theatre and how sometimes the inherent structure of a pop song, especially one that can standalone, can tend on the side of being an "I Want" song that is almost too explicit and selfish in its need to express what it wants directly to the audience.

Talking about wanting also extended itself to interesting discussion about the songwriting process itself. Michael Holland spoke very eloquently about the struggle to write and how he feels his songs come together. He also spoke about his career and about the transition from pop music and writing about his own personal wants to turning his focus on characters and stories and being inspired by their wants and desires. One of the greatest parts of the night was actually when he shared a song, and then Adam had the performer return to the stage to sing the song again without the piano. Showing how the melody stood up without accompaniment was inspiring and striking-- a rare opportunity to see a song deconstructed.

If you are at all interested in the craft of writing or theatre, I highly suggest attending Behind the Musical. Not only do they have great artists, but the laid back environment really allows for enlightening discussion amongst writers of many different backgrounds and approaches. It's a fascinating evening, and I, for one, can't wait to attend another one.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Late Night Refresher

This is going to be a crazy week of getting ready for a reading of my new play, but I just thought I would share a video that helped perk me up a bit in the midst of typing like a madman and staring at my computer screen. It comes courtesy of Joe Iconis, MK Lawson, and Eric William Morris (I dare you not to smile):

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Crazytown Presents: A Q&A with Ryan Scott Oliver

If you've seen the little poster on the right hand side of the screen, you would know that the writers of Ryan Scott Oliver's Crazytown blog are putting on a show (yes, me included!). I am very excited about Crazytown Presents, a live show that will feature music, anecdotes, comedy, and multi-media, much like the material on the blog, which will be at Joe's Pub on 11/14 at 9:30. I can't tell you how lucky I feel to be presenting work alongside such talented writers, many of which have been mentioned on this blog, and to ring in the occasion, I asked blog creator Ryan Scott Oliver to answer some questions about what it's like to be a part of Crazytown and what to expect from the Joe's Pub show.

Me: How did Crazytown originate? How has it evolved since then?

Ryan Scott Oliver: I created Crazytown in January of 2010, but I had wanted to do a blog for a year or so before then. My hesitation with creating the blog prior to that was the unending difficulty of keeping a blog up, in terms of both my interest and my readers’ interest. That’s also why, after a year, I needed to grow the blog and join forces with other like-minded creatives to make it multi-authored.


Me: You’ve been sharing your musical, Jasper in Deadland, on the blog. What has that process been like?

RSO: Like anything, it’s hard to keep up, but I’m determined to complete this as a complete work just as I would a musical, song, or other form. It’s gratifying to be able to share my lonely inner-workings! I’m hoping young writers are getting something from it... If nothing else, I have found it useful to hear about the struggles and redirections of other writers during my own process of writing, rewriting, and revising.


Me: What can people expect from Crazytown Presents?

RSO: Oh! So much! The writers are amazing, the actors are hilarious, and we’re putting together quite a show of multimedia elements. Where else can hear stand-up comedy about first menstrations, watch clips of Jennifer Love Hewitt’s boobs, and hear musical theatre tunes about porn stars? And duh so more more....


Me: What has been the biggest challenge/most exciting aspect of putting together the blog’s first live show?

RSO: The most challenging part was figuring out what exactly it would be... But that actually also became the most fun part, knowing we were creating something unexpected, fresh and exciting on stage. “Performing” a blog is kick-ass.


Me: What have you enjoyed most about blogging/managing the blog?

RSO: Seeing writers of all shapes and sizes become serious bloggers, and filling the void in our community where we could have conversations about anything and share it publicly. Get the conversation going, you know? I knew there were tons of people who would like to write for a blog but didn’t have the time or energy to keep one going themselves; so this became an outlet for many folks.


Me: What are your hopes for the future of Crazytown?

RSO: I wanna see it keep expanding. No! Exploding!! I’d like to take on more writers and see the work branch out even further; perhaps even adding more components and weekly columns. We have a strong readership and we want to keep them happy while growing outward and bringing in new readers... It’s the endless battle, isn’t it? How are we doing? Are we winning yet?

Buy tickets to see Crazytonwn Presents (and come say hi!) here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Civilians Occupy Wall Street

The last time I saw The Civilians' Let Me Ascertain You at Joe's Pub, it was pretty filthy (baddum ching!). But seriously... it was about the porn industry and Andrew Kober sang a song that I had to wipe from my memory before seeing him in Crazy, Just Like Me. If you were there, you know the one. It was that good a night.

This Friday, The Civilians will be taking the (newly renovated) Joe's Pub stage to share interviews and songs about Occupy Wall Street. Whatever your feelings on OWS, Zuccotti Park and the other sites of protests have been fertile ground for art -- the human stories, the sense of community, the unwavering tension and frustration. I have to admit that while I am still learning about what it means to Occupy Wall Street, I have been fascinated and inspired by things that are going on down there, and the unrest that the protests represent isn't going to go away anytime soon.

I can't think of a better group to take on the complex themes of OWS in performance-form, and I've already been enjoying the posts on The Civilains' blog that has been giving snapshots of people that Civilians members have met/interviewed. Read them here; Michele's was particularly touching for me.

Even more exciting, even if you can't make it to the live show, Joe's Pub will be live-streaming the performance on Friday night. This way, whether your area is being occupied or not, you can still get insight into this movement and appreciate the stories and music of real people calling for social, economic, and political change.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Love for NAMT Festival 2011

After the whirlwind of the 2011 NYMF, I wanted to take a little breather, but musical theatre never sleeps and another very important musical festival is still on the horizon. Though the National Alliance of Musical Theatre's annual festival this week (10/27-10/28) is for industry only, it's an important yearly festival where theatre professionals gather and enjoy presentations from 8 new musicals. This is a great opportunity for up-and-coming shows to find productions, and having gone 2 years ago, I can honestly say that for any theatre lover, it is a wonderful 2 days of getting to know other members of the theatre community and discussing what opportunities are out there for new shows. This year has a fantastic line-up of shows and writers that have been mentioned here on the blog, as well as some fabulous writers who have not yet made their appearance. Take a good look at this year's list, and be on the lookout for future productions (or if you're a producer, reach out and contact these people!). Here are this year's participants:

Bernice Bobs Her Hair
Book and Lyrics by Julia Jordan, Music and Lyrics by Adam Gwon

Bloodsong of Love
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Joe Iconis

Dani Girl
Music by Michael Kooman, Book and Lyrics by Christopher Dimond

The Dogs of Pripyat
Book by Leah Napolin, Music by Aron Accurso, Book and Lyric by Jill Abramovitz

Golden Boy of the Blue Ridge
Book by Cara Reichel, Book, Music, and Lyrics by Peter Mills

Notes to Marianne
By David Rossmer and Dan Lipton

Pregnancy Pact
Book and Lyrics by Gordon Leary, Music by Julia Meinwald

Watt?!?
Books and Lyrics by David Javerbaum
Music by Brendan Milburn

Also, if you're curious to know more about the shows, checkout NAMT's Youtube channel, which is featuring 7-question videos from each of the writing teams, giving you a glimpse at their shows and providing insight into where each of them are in the development process. Below is David Rossmer and Dan Lipton talking about Notes to Marianne:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

On a Roller Coaster: Date of a Lifetime at NYMF

Well, I have officially seen my last show at this year's NYMF, but the festival continues through the weekend, so there are still opportunities to fit in some great shows. In fact, should you need a recommendation, I would happily suggest Date of a Lifetime, which was the final show in my itinerary that I caught last night at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre.


Date of a Lifetime (book and lyrics by Carl Kissin, music by Robert Baumgartner Jr.) follows two speed daters as they meet and each imagine what their lives will be like together beyond their simple 'rotate-a-date' set-up. From Marvin's romantic vision of their family-to-be to Katie's more neurotic, practical view, these characters take you on a ride through their imaginings and hesitations concerning love, life, and growing old. This show is very winning with a score that moves the fantasy sequences along organically and also manages to get stuck in your head. The jokes come fast and furious, and the great thing about the swiftness of this musical comedy is that it never takes itself too seriously. Stars Farah Alvin and Jamie LaVerdiere make the most of the physical comedy and choreography, and Jeremy Dobrish's direction highlights how self-aware the piece is in its New York humor, theatrical nature, and overall goofiness. The show is much like a New Yorker on a date -- smart, perhaps self-referential, intriguing, and, ultimately, lovable. Date of a Lifetime has 4:30 shows today and tomorrow, so buy your tickets here.


In the meantime, I just wanted to thank all the shows/writers who participated in the NYMF 5-Question Interview Series. I have been so honored to have gotten to learn more about these great shows, and can't wait until next year when NYMF will be happening in the summer!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

That's the Beauty of a Gun: Outlaws at NYMF

This last week of NYMF rolls on, and though an unexpected sickness kept me from seeing Kiki Baby last night, I did have the pleasure of seeing the final performance of Outlaws: The Ballad of Billy The Kid on Sunday at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre. Not knowing a ton about Billy the Kid going into the show, I was really excited to see how the tale of the gun-slinging legend would be retold through a modern rock lens.

I'm happy to report that the outlaws of the Wild West translate rather flawlessly to a rock musical. There was a palpable energy and youthfulness that emanated from the stage as Billy and his gang of outcasts try to escape their complicated family lives and find freedom in California. The soaring score really helps highlight some of the teen angst and anger bubbling to the surface in this rag-tag group of misfits, and there were definitely a couple of tunes stuck in my head after leaving the theatre, most notably "We Do Whatever We Want" and "That's What They Said." I especially liked how a cast of only 6 felt like a cast of many more, and it was an especially nice touch for many of the actors to serve as a kind of Greek chorus in Billy's darker times. Though the NYMF run is over, you can still listen to tunes from the show on its website and be on the lookout for more from these writers in the future.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

NYMF/ASCAP Foundation Songwriters Showcase

I have to admit that I am still feeling the aftershocks of awe after attending last night's NYMF/ASCAP Foundation Songwriters Showcase.

As I've been attending these NYMF shows, I've been going to most performances alone, which is something that I appreciate but sometimes makes me miss having a companion, mostly because I love exposing my friends to musical works they normally wouldn't go out of their way to see. However, last night was one of the few nights I was truly happy to be experiencing alone; because though I would have loved to expose someone else to the sheer talent of some of these writers in a such a warm environment, I reveled in the fact that I got to just let the music and the discussion sink in, not having to worry about whether or not someone else was enjoying it as much as I was--just engaging in the whole experience uninterrupted.

The showcase was hosted by Stephen Schwartz and featured songwriting teams Kooman and Dimond, Valerie Vigoda and Brendan Milburn (also known as 2/3 of band GrooveLily), and Pasek and Paul. I was aware of these writers' work before this evening, but there was something about getting to see an event focused entirely on their music -- where it comes from, what the process of writing is, how collaboration crystallizes into a final product -- that was absolutely magical. Not to mention getting to see these wonderful writers really appreciating one another was so moving in its own way. Here are some highlights (at least in my opinion) from the discussion:
  • Though the panelists were all songwriting teams and had the common thread of meeting in college, I loved how varied they were in their approaches to their writing. Kooman and Dimond began their work together writing music for Carnegie Mellon students. Valerie Vigoda and Brendan Milburn are married. Pasek and Paul apparently fight a lot throughout the writing process. It was nice to see everyone's dynamic with his or her partner.
  • Most of the writers did not actually go to school for musical theatre writing. Pasek and Paul got their start as musical theatre performers at UMich, Valerie Vigoda was a singer/songwriter (Sarah McLachlan with a violin, she joked), and Michael Kooman was originally in the school of music (not theatre) at Carnegie Mellon.
  • Stephen Schwartz apparently thought of having a CD called "Murdered Darlings," which would be comprised of cut songs. There was a lot of talk about murdered darlings last night, in fact, hitting home the idea of theatre being a process of revision and seeing what works and letting go of what doesn't.
  • When Kooman and Dimond start a show, Christopher usually writes the book first, and then they work on the music. As a playwright, I thought this was a fascinating approach.
  • Valerie Vigoda is going to have a one-woman show that is going to rock your socks off. She performed the opening number, and I just had my mouth hanging open by the time it was done. Also, note to self, if you learn an instrument, let it be the electric violin.
  • There are some major A Christmas Story fans out there; granted, many audience members were associated with the show, but any mention of Pasek and Paul's musical adaptation garnered loud cheers.
I have to say that I was captivated throughout the evening. I wanted to post video performances of every song available that was sung last night on the blog to even give the tiniest indication of what it was like. But instead, I will only post one -- as it represents a moment in the evening that I found incredibly profound and moving.

In the middle of the program, every songwriting team presented a second song, usually preceded by some kind of introduction. Kooman and Dimond explained that their next song was an intensely personal number -- one that was written in 24 hours, spurring on one of the biggest creative arguments they'd ever had, and that even made Andrew Lippa cry. Seems like a pretty big set-up for song, right?

And then Michael Kooman took to the piano and sang this song, "Lost in the Waves," which is performed below by Anderson Davis:


When it ended, I was in shock. There was something about it-- the piano, the lone voice, the crispness of lyrics in the silent Peter Norton Space. For the entirety of the song, I was transported into another place, and when it was over, realizing where I was was almost shocking. I sat there, gobsmacked, trying to adjust back to the event. And the most beautiful part of the whole thing? When Stephen Schwartz turned to Brendan Milburn so that he and Valerie could present their song, the look on Brendan's face was the exact same as mine.

I was so thankful when he took a minute to digest the performance, when he was genuinely short on words in the aftermath of that song. There was something great about seeing in other people, not to mention other terrific writers, the passion and love that I feel for these works.

NYMF is now into its second week-- what a way to begin it.

Monday, October 3, 2011

New Musicals Take on Old Classics

It was a weekend of musical adaptations, as I continued on my NYMF viewing with Gatsby: The Songs in Concert and Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, A Musical. Both of these shows are takes on some of my most beloved books (I was also an English Major, so it comes with the territory), and I was both apprehensive and excited to see how they would be interpreted on the stage and in song.
Gatsby, a one-night-only concert, was one of the shows I was looking forward to most. F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel is nothing short of a masterpiece, a great narrative of selfishness, recklessness, love, and wealth in the jazz age. Gatsby the musical, written by Hugh Wheeler, Lee Pockriss, and Carolyn Lee, was Broadway bound in the 1970s, but never quite made it to The Great White Way. Performed in concert by insanely talented Matt Cavenaugh, Autumn Hurlbert, Jenny Powers, Megan Sikora, and Max von Essen, the concert was a wonderful peek into a once-lost musical. I have to admit that I was a little skeptical when the band started up and the first song began, outright declaring that it was the "Jazz Age." One of my favorite parts of Gatsby the novel is the layers of meaning throughout; on the surface, the plot can seem quite melodramatic (affairs, parties, murders, and misunderstandings) but the real joy of the book is seeing this world through the eyes of Nick Carraway, a narrator who tries to see his companions for who they really are, while also getting caught up in the decadent world of 20s New York himself.

Where Gatsby the musical really shines is in its darker moments, in the places where, past the bravado, the music reveals darker desires and sadder truths that entice and force the characters into their lives of frivolity. Though it was hard to always understand the exact context of certain songs when presented in the brief concert format, I thought the Daisy character really sparkled the brightest, especially with her first number "Sooner or Later," a sultry and insistent song about cheating husbands. From there, it was interesting to see how certain refrains repeated themselves throughout the show, changing meaning as parties were thrown, loves were rediscovered, and choices were made. I would love to see this show as a fully staged production someday.


The other show I saw this past weekend was Lindsay Warren Baker and Amanda Jacob's Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, A Musical. A reinterpretation of Jane Austen's timeless novel, I am happy to report that this musical adaptation is quite a crowd-pleaser. With deftly drawn characters (which is important when handling the iconic Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy) and lively pacing, the show was a joy to watch. Perhaps one of the most successful additions to the original novel is that this stage adaption features Jane Austen herself as she revisits the novel's first incantation, First Impressions, trying to rewrite her own work to submit for publication. Donna Lynne Champlin (who was blogging about her experience with the show on The New York Times ArtsBeat blog) delights in this role, adding a nice presence for the characters to play off of throughout the show. It lent a winking eye to those already familiar with the story and helped move the plot along swiftly and evenly. There was palpable chemistry between Doug Carpenter's Darcy and Patricia Noonan's Elizabeth, and all the other characters had their own moments in the spotlight as well. The rest of the run is sold out, but I can easily see this show going on to a longer life, as even the most fervent of Austen fans will find something to enjoy here.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Party at the TBG

NYMF is in full swing, and I am trying to get out there to cover some of the shows that weren't covered in the NYMF 5-question interview series. The first two shows, however, on my NYMF itinerary were mentioned here before: Man of Rock and Crazy, Just Like Me -- both of which are running at the TBG Theater at 312 W 36th St. The shows are, as you can imagine, quite different in music style and content, but both are very charming, funny takes on love.


There's a quote from The SF Bay Guardian that describes Man of Rock as the "thinking man's Rock of Ages," and I totally agree. With great 80s tunes that channel the chart-toppers of the decade, the show captures the spirit of glam, larger-than-life rock without needing to use other people's songs. And while the concept of turning a Restoration Comedy into an 80s musical could have easily stuck to a one-trick gimmick, Man of Mode slipped pretty seamlessly into this retelling, creating a John Hughes-worthy romantic story of a womanizing rocker who fall in love with a Connecticut socialite. The voices on these performers were amazing, and I loved how each person really embodied a different kind of 80s rock star.

Crazy, Just Like Me is a little less rock, but with great contemporary music telling this modern-day love story, it creates a unique plot that I haven't seen on stage yet. Simple in its construct but complicated by its lovable characters, Crazy tells the story of a man who realizes, through therapy, that he is in love with his best friend. The thing I probably loved most about the show, however, is that instead of playing up the soapy drama that could come from this situation, it instead becomes a character study of 3 characters and their attempts to control their impulses: Simon trying to understand his feelings for Mike, Mike trying to deal with his fear of commitment to his girlfriend Lauren, and Lauren trying to stop herself from questioning she and Mike's relationship. It's enough to understand that we're all a little crazy, but that finding someone who understands that is the most important thing to work through it.

So check out either of these shows at the TBG Theater! And if you see anything particularly good at NYMF, feel free to share! Also, check back for some more coverage over the next week; very excited to share more about some of the great shows being featured this year.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

5-Question NYMF Interviews:THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE! IN 3D!!!

For the last installment in our NYMF 5-question interview series, we're throwing some camp and B-movie humor into the mix with The Brain That Wouldn’t Die! In 3D!!! Written by Elizabeth Gelman and Tom Sivak, this story of Dr. Dick Cuttingham's obsession with furthering the field of science is sure to entertain. And what exactly does it mean for a musical to be in 3D? You'll have to wait until performances start on October 6th to see for yourself (buy tickets here), but in the meantime, Elizabeth and Tom answer our questions below.


(Kathy Voytko as Hedy in
The Brain That Wouldn't Die! In 3D!!!)


Me: How would you describe your show in one sentence?

Elizabeth Gelman and Tom Sivak: A singing head in a baking pan joins forces with a monster in the closet to stop a maniacal doctor from killing a beautiful ingénue – and hilarity ensues.


Me: What inspired The Brain That Wouldn’t Die! In 3D!!!?

Elizabeth and Tom: Tom was watching the movie (The Brain That Wouldn’t Die) on TV and was absolutely riveted. It was the worst movie he’d ever seen and yet – like watching a car accident – he couldn’t look away! And the characters were so compelling: a mad scientist, a head in a baking pan, a one-armed lab assistant, a Monster in the Closet. It was so ludicrous that it really spoke to our twisted sense of humor.


Me: What does it mean for a musical to be in 3D?

Elizabeth and Tom: The story takes place in the early 1960s, a time when 3-D was all the rage at the movies – just like now – and we have a lot of fun playing with that 1960’s 3-D concept. But only the climactic scene in our show is actually performed in 3D. The majority of it is actually performed in “2D” – and you’ll have to come see the show to see how that’s done!


Me: How would you describe The Brain That Wouldn’t Die! In 3D!!! musically?

Elizabeth and Tom: The heart of all the music in the show is 60s pop/rock, but the score is transmogrified by an infusion of B-Movie Horror Film Underscoring which has been transplanted to traditional musical theater conventions.


Me: What are you most looking forward to about NYMF?

Elizabeth and Tom: Being a Next Link Project Selection has already had a big impact on the show through our work on the script with our director, Tim Drucker, and our dramaturge, Neal Freeman. We have such a fantastic cast and unbelievable creative team – and the staff at NYMF has been incredibly supportive.

This opportunity is really a dream come true.


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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

5-Question NYMF Interviews: JUST LIKE MAGIC

We're changing things up a little in today's NYMF interview, as our questions for NYMF Special Event Just Like Magic (written by Ryan Mercy, Christopher W. Barnes, and Cameron Cole) are answered here by the show's star, Christopher T. Magician. Featuring a magic show gone wrong, Just Like Magic is sure to be a zany ride with real magic and puppets (including what I can already tell is one of my favorites, Sammy the Safety Donut). If you want a taste of the insanity, check out the show's mini webseries, Operation Sutton, in which Christopher T. Magician tries to convince Sutton Foster to come out to a NYMF performance as his date.

Even if you're not Sutton Foster, you can buy your ticket to one of Just Like Magic's 3 performances here. In the meantime, here's Christopher T. Magician...


Me: How would you describe your show in one sentence?

Christopher T. Magician: Hi! Christopher T. Magician here!

How would I describe my show Just Like Magic in one sentence?

A kid’s birthday party magic show gone horribly wrong!

Actually, that’s a sentence fragment. “A kid’s birthday party magic show gone horribly wrong” would be the direct object. Or it could possibly be the subject complement depending on whether the verb preceding it was of the action or linking variety. In any case, a complete sentence would definitely need some type of verb. And while we’re on the subject … a subject. So in conclusion, it’s really funny.

Me: What role does magic play in Just Like Magic?

Christopher T. Magician: Magic is the glue that holds Just Like Magic together. It’s like watching 30 Minute Meals with Rachael Ray. You’re watching, waiting and hoping for her to finally have her inevitable complete nervous breakdown on camera, but meanwhile, you get to enjoy seeing her cook food!

In Just Like Magic, Christopher T. Magician (that’s me, I often talk about myself in third person) and his puppet entourage have been hired to perform at a child’s birthday party, but the show takes a turn as Christopher suffers a complete mental breakdown in front of his young audience. Think Blue’s Clues meets Hedwig and the Angry Inch! And while you’re watching in anticipation to see the cracks finally explode, you get to enjoy some fun toe-tapping songs and super neato magic tricks!

Me: What is it like writing for puppets?

Christopher T. Magician: Writing for puppets is a lot like writing for yourself. Come to think of it, it’s literally like writing for yourself.

There is one perk for creating puppet dialogue. Puppets don’t complain when you make last minute script changes. They can be divas at times though. I once asked Sammy the Safety Donut to say, “Something seems strange since summer started.” But he insisted it was an insult to his speech impediment (Sammy suffers from a strong sibilant ‘s’ – or a shtrong shibilant ‘esh,’ as he would put it, but don’t tell him I said that).

Jojo the Dodo bird is more carefree. He never complains about the words I choose for him. Then again, he never reads the script. Or memorizes it. Or performs it at all as written.

Huh.

Jojo’s a real a@%hole.

Me: Where did the idea for Operation Sutton come from, and what has it been like working on those videos?

Christopher T. Magician: Working on the Operation Sutton videos has been a total blast! But how did it all begin?

Allow me to set the scene:

There we were eating Chick-Fil-A at the Paramus Park Mall in Jersey.

Now that I have your attention…

We knew we wanted to make a small YouTube campaign for Just Like Magic, but what? We considered a “Road to NYMF” type documentary. Or a “Day in the Life of Christopher T. Magician” series. Or even an “Important Life Lessons Taught Through Magic” series, in which every lesson ended with Christopher’s eye popping out.

Having seen Anything Goes the previous night, the subject of Sutton Foster arose. The idea actually began as a mock smear campaign, implying that she can sing, dance, and act better than Christopher, so she better never even try doing magic or else.

We abandoned that idea due to our utmost respect and adoration of Ms. Foster (not to mention the possible creepiness of it and likely lawsuit from it).

In truth, my co-writers and I are all gigantic Sutton Foster fans. She is the only star on Broadway that I will go see in a show specifically because she is in it** (And I’m not just writing that on the off chance she might be reading this). She has every right to be a complete diva, but by all accounts she is easy-going, down-to-earth, and enjoyable to work with. Not to mention, she seems to have a wonderful sense of humor.

For all these reasons, we created Operation Sutton, a YouTube video series in which Christopher T. Magician asks Ms. Foster to be his date to the NYMF opening night party in many creative and hilarious ways that reflect the humor in our show Just Like Magic. (YouTube “Operation Sutton” to see for yourself).

Maybe if we can make her laugh hard enough, there might be a chance she will say yes. The jury is still out…

**Not including the cast of Most Likely to Die, our show we wrote that had its world premier at last year’s NYMF. We’d go see those guys in anything.


Me: What are you most looking forward to about NYMF?

Christopher T. Magician: We are passionate about musical theatre, and NYC -- and the world for that matter -- is lucky to have NYMF to promote up-and-coming artists in the field to ensure that the art form continues to evolve and new voices are heard.

We are truly honored to be a part of those new voices for the second year in a row.

What we are looking forward to at this year’s NYMF? Making people laugh, putting on a really fun show, and the obvious next step … the Broadway! I’m talking to you, Sir Cameron Mackintosh!


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Monday, September 26, 2011

5-Question NYMF Interviews: GREENWOOD

Even if the end of summer is getting you down, you can relive some of those golden summer camp memories with the musical Greenwood. Telling the story of long lost friends who meet at a performing arts camp and are reunited years later, this heartfelt story was actually modeled after the writers' own experiences at French Woods. Some NYMF shows officially start today, but you can catch Greenwood starting October 6th (purchase tickets here). While you wait, read on to see what writers Adam LeBow and Tor Hyams had to say about the show.


Me: How would you describe your show in one sentence?

Adam LeBow and Tor Hyams: Greenwood is about reclaiming your past so you may forge a new future.


Me: What role did your own experiences as a summer performing arts camp play in the writing of Greenwood?

Adam: Everything. French Woods is the template for Camp Greenwood; the people we remember from camp became the models for our characters; and who we were when we were there inspired the show's themes. In short, our performing arts summer camp experiences sired the whole idea. That being said, we feel that everyone has a Greenwood inside of him or her. For us, it was a camp; but it could be anything. It's that most special time of youth when you were confident of your place in the world, when you felt connected, when you felt like you belonged. The message of Greenwood (we hope!) is that it is possible to regain the fire of exuberant youth, to recapture that spirit and energy and bring it with us as we move forward in our lives.

Tor: It sired the whole idea. It was the inspiration from which we drew on to create characters (almost everyone in the show is based on someone we knew at camp). Mostly, though, it was the very recollection of those special summers we spent at French Woods that inspired the concept that it is possible to regain the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed feeling of exuberant youth and reclaim that elan as we move forward in our lives.


Me: How would you describe Greenwood musically?

Adam and Tor: It's a mix of rock and pop with a touch of "contemporary musical theater thrown in." The musical influences of our youth show up in our songs—The Beatles, The Who, Queen, Steely Dan, Stevie Wonder, etc., plus, of course, Sondheim. Always Sondheim!


Me: How did you decide to bring Greenwood to NYMF?

Adam: It was a difficult decision. NYMF tells us that we were very much liked by their adjudicators, but they weren't sure they had a venue for a show of our size. So we were one of the last to be notified! Though we were, naturally, thrilled to be invited, we had to weigh all the pros and cons before we said yes—it meant a ton of work in a very short time. Ultimately, we decided to participate because we felt that we could indeed pull off the right presentation for the festival. Our director, Paul Stancato—along with our amazing cast and the creative, design, tech, and production team—is accomplishing miracles!

Tor: Though we were thrilled to be invited, Adam and I weighed all the pros and cons before we pulled the trigger, especially since it meant a ton of work in a very short time. Ultimately, we decided to participate because we thought we could pull off the right presentation for the festival. It ain't the Broadway version, but it is world's further than it ever has been.


Me: What are you most looking forward to about NYMF?

Adam: Seeing Greenwood up on its feet! In Los Angeles—where Greenwood's first two drafts were written—we did two table readings and a concert reading. The NYMF production will be the first time we will be seeing Greenwood played out in a fully realized form... a moment we've been dreaming of for two and a half years! Judging from what we've seen in rehearsals, it will be a dream come true indeed!

Tor: We've had table reads and a concert reading, but I've been dreaming about seeing Greewnood play out in this way. The work our director, Paul Stancato, has done is amazing. Can't wait!

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

5-Question NYMF Interviews: MAN OF ROCK

Are you ready to rock? NYMF performances kick off tomorrow, and one of the show starting their production September 26th is Man of Rock (book and lyrics by Daniel Heath; music by Kenneth Flagg), an 80s-inspired rock comedy that is also based on Restoration comedy The Man of Mode. Featuring a down-and-out protagonist who is a lead singer of 80s rock band Silverwolf determined to get his groove back, you know chaos is sure to ensue with a rival band, love interest, and, of course, music. Buy your tickets here, and read on to see what Daniel Heath had to say about the show.


Me: How would you describe your show in one sentence?

Daniel Heath: It's a rock'n'roll musical (based on a Restoration comedy of manners) that is about the quest for true love and true rock in the 1980s.

Me: How did a Restoration comedy inspire a rock musical?

Daniel: How can you tell when someone really loves you? That's a central question in Man of Mode, as the womanizing protagonist churns through three different lovers in the course of a few days. That set of plots and themes transferred directly over to Man of Rock. How is Antoinette supposed to trust that Dorimant really loves her when she's watched him lie to two other women?

Man of Mode had a second parallel theme--how do you know who is truly witty, and who is a fop? In Man of Rock, that parallel way of addressing the broader question of authenticity is mapped onto hair rock--who is the true rock god, and who is just a poser?

That passionate striving for authenticity--and at the same time an obsession with a very stylized surface (e.g., the huge hair in both 1676 and 1986)--connected the two time periods for me. Also, both periods had some interesting gender-bending going on (e.g., male courtiers wore elaborate wigs and make-up during the restoration, while in the 80's hyper-masculine hair-rock singers wore mascara and lip gloss while singing crude songs about banging chicks). In addition, a lot of the action in Man of Mode takes place at the High Mall, and nothing says '80s like a mall.

I tried to take the spirit of the original, with its humor, complex relationships, and witty dialogue, and map it onto a story and characters that would produce a parallel experience for a contemporary audience. That required some plot changes. For one thing, the original is pretty misogynist by contemporary standards, so I had to make some changes to make it fun for me to write, for my actors to act, and for a contemporary audience to watch--but without defanging it completely or losing the things that make the plot work.

Me: Coming from playwriting and songwriting (but not necessarily musical theatre) backgrounds, what was the process like of writing a musical?

Daniel: When I originally started the script, the music was much more secondary; I wasn't even sure there were going to be original songs. I wrote the lyrics to the first song ("Come Down Angel") almost as an exercise. But when my composer Ken Flagg took the lyrics and created this amazing fake 80's song around them, I couldn't stop listening to it--I think I was grinning like an idiot for a week. And as I started to work the songs into the play, I found that I was able to express some emotional and character beats through music more powerfully, and I just love the energetic lift it brings to the show when one of Ken's shredding songs starts up. Now, the songs are completely integral to the show. And even though the songs all take place within the world of the play (that is, characters don't just break into song... all the characters are in bands and during the course of the play those bands play shows), they have major plot/character payoffs like an ordinary musical--and you can really feel the lack of them at a table read.

Me: What has the process been like bringing the show to New York?

Daniel: A crazy, beautiful theatrical tornado. We were able to bring a couple of our amazing original cast from our San Francisco production out with us (Danielle Levin and Lance Gardner), and we filled in the rest of the cast with an outrageously talented team of NY actors (Nick Cordero, Lisa Birnbaum, J. Michael Zygo, and Vanessa Reseland). We've assembled a local production/design team that includes some NYMF veterans (Samantha Saltzman our assistant director and Chris Studley our lighting designer) and some NY-based folks whose work we've seen in San Francisco (set designer Drew Boyce) and other folks who we just recruited for this project (like our music director Karen Dyer and stage manager Heather Arnson).

Theater is always collaborative, and you're always reliant on a large number of other people doing their jobs extremely well. A cross-country production just makes that doubly true--we've been relying very heavily on our local team to know what they're doing, and people have done great work.

For me, it's also just a blast to have a chance to spend five weeks living and working in your city.

Me: What are you most looking forward to about NYMF?

Daniel: You're a playwright, too, so I don't have to tell you how much fun it is (and how much you learn) watching a talented cast rehearse and then eventually perform your piece. I hope the show is great, I hope people love it, I very much hope it goes on to further life after this. But I think what I am looking forward to (and already enjoying) most about NYMF is the practice of making theater. I'm a playwright b/c I ****ing love the being involved in the process of making theater and I love the results--and it's great to get the chance to do it here.

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

The 5-Question NYMF Interviews: OUTLAWS

Outlaws is a rock musical about one of the most legendary outlaws of all -- Billy the Kid. Going beyond the Hollywood portrayal of cowboys on the range, this musical explores themes of violence and masculinity through the eyes of teenage bandits. The show kicks off on Monday, Sept 26th, and you can get your tickets here. In the meantime, writers Alastair William King and Perry Liu, who originally conceived the show (the book was also written with Joe Calarco), take the time to answer questions about their show.



Me: How would you describe your show in one sentence?

Alastair William King: An edgy rock musical that spins a tale of youth and friendship, fame and violence in America.

Perry Liu: It’s a rock musical that uses the iconic legend of Billy the Kid to address issues that teenage boys are still dealing with today.


Me: What was it like tackling such an iconic character and legend like Billy the Kid?

Alastair: Initially very challenging as so much has been written and said about him. We wanted to reveal the Billy behind the myth.

Perry: The history of Billy the Kid is fascinating. But one of our first revelations while researching was discovering how the “Wild West” was not the honorable showdown or the obvious good against bad that was portrayed in so many Hollywood movies. The ‘West’ was a brutal deadly and dog eat dog existence. That was when we decided we wanted to play with many reveals. The boy behind the myth, the reasons we raise our boys to be tough and keep their feelings inside, why are we obsessed with violence and guns and so on. Billy the Kid is still a popular legend because, sadly, these are issues that we are still dealing with today. So we thought we’d thought we’d deconstruct the “West” and our Billy the Kid.

Me: How did you decide on a rock musical?

Alastair: As we know the west at that time was wild and lawless and so rock music was an allegory for this.

Perry: Rock music is the epitome of lawlessness but it also captures the youth of Billy and his gang.

And we wanted this kind of allegory to be woven through out the show. So the dialogue has a contemporary feel, as do the costumes and the sets. We tried to create our own 1880s west from the mind of teenager so we tried to find the elements that existed in both times that could live together. The story told from their perspective so we wanted to use elements that reflected how they see the world.

We tried a more musical theatre sound early on but we were more successful with rock. I think it’s because that’s what we grew up on.


Me: What has the development process been like leading up to this NYMF production?

Alastair: It has been very exciting to be working with such talented people and to be given such help and guidance along the way.

Perry: Yes, all of the shows in the festival have been given Dramaturgs and it’s really great having a third set of eyes with a playwriting background to help hone your work.

Me: What are you most looking forward to about NYMF?

Alastair: Just being part of a festival which has gained such acclaim and to know that our show made it there.

Perry: I’m just grateful to see our work staged and on it’s feet! That’s why we write, right? You can’t predict whether it’s going to be successful or become a hit but you do want to see it staged, see it come to life. I’m going to feel as if I went full circle, I had an idea, wrote it down, got it staged. Everything else is icing on the cake.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The 5-Question NYMF Interviews: DATE OF A LIFETIME

I first had the pleasure of learning about Date of a Liftetime (books and lyrics by Carl Kissin, music by Rob Baumgartner Jr.) when I saw a reading for the show at Davenport Theatricals about a year ago. A wild and funny romp that explores all the possibilities of the first date, this musical is a charming and fun look at relationships -- even ones that haven't happened yet. I have mentioned Rob's awesome music on the blog before, and Carl's book and lyrics are full of great comic moments and interesting characters. Buy your tickets here, and read on to hear what Carl and Rob have to say about the show.

Me: How would you describe your show in one sentence?

Rob Baumgarter Jr.: Date of a Lifetime is about spinning a fantasy future with a new love interest.

Carl Kissin: 1 Date. 8 Minutes. 2 Lifetimes. (Okay, that’s actually three sentence fragments, but they’re very short….)

Me: What changes can we expect since the Davenport Theatricals reading?

Rob: The Davenport Theatricals reading was extremely helpful in providing very organized feedback. The crew at Davenport organized the comments in an Excel-style spreadsheet which showed where most of the audience was on board and (more importantly) the places in the show that needed changes or clarification. This made it very easy to focus our rewrites. The biggest change is giving Katie (the female love interest) more of an overt voice in Marvin’s fantasy (Act I of the show).

Carl: We spent some time developing the third act, hashing out what actually happens when the characters interact in real time. It wasn’t until we started developing Date of a Lifetime for a reading with Davenport Theatrical that we started to realize that this show could be as touching as it was funny. Sometimes, truly touching moments can be funny, and vice-versa. Ultimately, Date of a Lifetime is about love. And, let’s face it - in practice, love is about as hilarious/crazy/ridiculous as it gets. It’s also heart-wrenching and sometimes scary. We want to celebrate all of that with our audience.

Me: Date of a Lifetime has extended fantasy sequences. How are they being staged/interpreted for this production?

Carl: We can’t divulge too much. We do know that the environment we’re creating, both through set design and staging, will be full of surprises, and will enable to actors to explore both reality and fantasy worlds with lots of creativity.

Rob: The conceit of the show is that is each character projects a future onto the relationship, both actors play scenes from this ‘future.’ The specific fantasy sequences are being staged in as many ways as creativity will allow, but always grounded in the idea that they are a projection of one of the characters, and not necessarily reality.

Me: I loved the role music played in conversation with the two characters in the show. What role would you say the music plays in Date of a Lifetime?

Rob: One of my favorite things about Date of a Lifetime is how unassuming and self-effacing the characters are. For me, the songs add an extra layer of heart and honesty to the self-consciousness these characters sometimes feel. I think there is something beautifully innocent and fundamentally brave about two people on a first date. I tried to capture that mix of fear, hope and bravery in the music.

Carl: These characters are very creative and visionary, and we like to think that the music elevates the fantasy sequences to a more heightened dramatic level, while also allowing the audience connect to it with greater understanding and appreciation. (Also, our performers are insanely talented singers, so we like that our music allows them to show off their chops.)

Me: What are you most looking forward to about NYMF?

Rob: Sitting in your apartment or at the coffee shop working on a show can be a very isolating experience. But the big, amazing pay-off is how many people you get to interact with when you are lucky enough to take a show to the next level. I’m excited to be working with a bunch of new people, and I’m excited to hear people laugh!

Carl: I love seeing a great director and actors take my writing and make it funnier, sexier, and more poignant. I think Jeremy Dobrish, Farah Alvin, and Jamie LaVerdiere are brilliant. They surprise and delight me at every turn. I also look forward to misting up like a big wussy in front of my producer Liz Ulmer on opening night, when I tell her how much I appreciate her tireless dedication to this project. Without her, there is no show, just a crazy writer sitting at his computer, not knowing what to do next. Lastly, but not leastly, I look forward to having my collaborator Rob Baumgartner's beautiful music floating around my head for the rest of my life.

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