Monday, January 31, 2011
So I drew a name from a hat, and the winner of the RSO songbook is... Chase, who posted this video as being a favorite:
Congrats! Email me your address at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll be sure to send the book your way!
Even if you didn't win, you can order your copy from RSO's website here -- you can even get a sneak peek at what's inside. Also, concerning Crazytown, I highly suggest reading his newest post "I Love My Dead Gay Song," which discusses musical theatre songs, their contexts and cultures, and being able to maintain those values when the content you're representing is in the minority.
Monday, January 24, 2011
- To enter, simply post a link in the comments to your favorite RSO performance video. Need some inspiration? Look at any of the videos mentioned on this blog here, or check out RSO's youtube channel here.
- You have until 11:59 p.m. eastern time on Saturday, 1/29 to enter.
- The winner will be drawn at random and announced by 1/31. The winner's name will be posted on the blog then, so be sure to check back so you can send me your address if you win. If I don't receive the winner's information by 2/7, I will draw again.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Sunday, January 9, 2011
Timothy Huang wears many hats, writing as a composer, lyricist, and librettist in addition to having some acting/singing experience under his belt. He's a graduate of NYU's Tisch (twice!) and received the audience award in 2004 for the New York Musical Theatre Festival production of his musical And the Earth Moved. Yesterday, his work was showcased at Don't Tell Mama as a part of We Go to 11, an evening of five 11 minute musicals written by BMI Musical Theatre Workshop writers. We Go to 11 has another show on Wednesday, but for now, I have the privilege of posting this Q&A where Timothy talks about Joss Whedon, the writing process, and being the self-proclaimed mayor of 15 minute musical town:
"Drawn to You" performed by Jared Gertner, Kendal Sparks, Jen Blood, Sarah Corey, Piper Goodeve, and Andrew Kober
from song cycle Lines as part of Timothy Huang: Chinese or Crazy at NYTB
Me: How did you get started in musical theatre?
Timothy Huang: I had Asian parents. So I grew up playing piano, saxomaphone and drumming and other foolishness. I started singing at an early age too and my school was like, the artsy one, so there were a lot of opportunities to perform. When it came time to pick a college I knew I wanted to act in theater and NYU turned out to be where I landed. One of the other theater people at my high school (the girl whom I always played opposite in school shows) had very supportive parents and they sort of knew my parents were unfamiliar with the whole "study of art as a profession" thing so they made themselves available to me whenever I needed advice.
About halfway through college I started wondering why all my classmates seemed so content to do other people's choreography, sing songs that other people had made famous and do shows that had been already done. The answer, obvious to me now but not back then, was because they were real actors and I was really a writer. Eventually I figured that out and when the opportunity came to go to grad school, I ended up back at NYU because I didn't want to leave the city and lose touch with my agents, etc.
Me: How would you describe your musical style? Who are your biggest influences?
Timothy: I would probably call my style "contemporary American theater" which is of absolutely no use to you... But critically I have been likened to a lot of different people. Bill Finn, Jonathan Larson, George Gershwin (??). I think that people tend to want to put artists in a box, critics especially, because they have an obligation to make the art accessible to the lay person. I mean, that one time someone likened me to Gershwin, it was a different show than when they likened me Bill Finn. Each show tends to have it's own voice and it just happens that in The View From Here I wrote a song that aped the jazz standards of the 20s/30s and used that as my backbone, and in And the Earth Moved I wanted a very "New Yorkey pre-9/11 hopeful" feel. And that translated to one reviewer as William Finn-ish. He's not wrong, I studied under Bill at NYU and I grew up loooving the Falsettos score.
As for my influences, I'd have to say that most of my writing influences are literary/dramatic, not musical. The nature of the drama always dictates the nature of the music (which may account for why there is such a disparity between the writers I have been so generously compared to). I'm a huge Aaron Sorkin fan. Have been since A Few Good Men. The economy with which he conveys depth of character is really unparalleled, I think. And in a musical theater setting economy is key. You can't really write a twelve page scene and then have someone sing about it. Well... I suppose you could, but it wouldn't be the least bit engaging... I loved Sports Night, and feel like Studio 60 got unfairly judged. I thought the opening scene to Social Network was so brilliant. Conveying as much in what they do say as in what is implied or left unsaid.
I'm also an enormous Joss Whedon fan. Discovered Firefly during the legendary "million amazon five star rating age" and subsequently bought all the Buffy/Angel sets. I feel just a few steps removed from him because I went to college with Sean Maher, who played Simon Tam in Firefly, and in the summer of 2000 right before grad school I did an indie film with a then unknown Amy Acker who would go on to play Fred in Angel the following year. I feel like he and I have similar tastes in actors. We maybe look for the same things.
Beyond that I can say I've been really fortunate in my career. Studied under William Finn and Michael John LaChiusa at NYU, and by way of my former life as an actor, I got to work with and for Jason Robert Brown, Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt, all of whom are so generous with their time and talents. But just having access to that brain trust is like -- kind of a huge deal. They're successful, and they care about passing the torch. They aren't so wrapped up in their own ambition that they won't sit down and tell you what they think of your work. That's very rare, especially in this landscape where genuine musical theater writers are struggling to compete in the mainstream with aging rock stars searching for cultural relevance and musical adaptations of movies that existed in the 80s and 90s. Which isn't to slam adaptations, or rock stars (We're all artists right?) but just to say that when your goal, like mine is, is to create new and original work, it's that much harder to get the attention of a producer who for better or worse thinks a "known" property is more likely to return his investment than an unknown one.