Next up in the 5-question NYMF interview series comes Time Between Us by Brett Schrier and Tess Barker. An intimate tale of friendship over a span of 30 years, this musical is not to be missed -- and though it boasts only a cast of three, it’s quality over quantity with performers like Kristy Cates, Kasey Marino, and Tom Rainey. If the show strikes your fancy, you can buy your tickets here, but in the mean time, Brett Schrier answers his 5 questions for Time Between Us:
(Kasey Marino singing "And Time Moves On")
Me: How would you describe your show in one sentence?
Brett Schrier: Time Between Us is a beautifully haunting musical portrait of best friends, passions, and time.
Me: Your show takes place over the span of 30 years. How did you approach telling such an intimate story over such a long period of time?
Brett: You’re absolutely right: Time Between Us is an intimate story that follows two best friends over a 30 year span. The audience meets Matthew & Morgan fresh out of art school, and each scene throughout the play is a snapshot in their life. Each snapshot reveals more about their relationship, their desire to find the balance between the perfect career and personal life, and the complex decisions they each make.
I find it interesting that some of my best friends don’t even live in the same city as I do anymore. And though we don’t see each other on a regular basis, we always seem to pick up right where we left off. And I always know there is something wrong when we can’t. But…it’s the memories we hold onto…the snapshots throughout time that keep us together and make our connection special. This play is a series of those snapshots. We have the opportunity to see Matthew & Morgan at some of the most interesting moments in their lives.
Me: How would you describe Time Between Us musically?
Brett: Beautiful. Haunting. Melodic. Intricate. The music tells a story of its own.
I grew up sitting at the piano, doing musical theatre, and listening to cast recordings written by some of the best musical theatre composers – all of which I still idolize today. I like to think all of those early experiences influenced the score for Time Between Us.
There are only two characters that sing in Time Between Us, and the music in the show directly reflects what each of these characters is going through emotionally. I always treat songs like a monologue on pitch. In other words, I think it’s important to build the acting beats into the melody. Again, it’s something I learned (and continue to learn) from studying some of the composers I consider to be “genius” at this art form.
I orchestrated the show for piano and cello. There is something about the combination of these two instruments that really strikes a chord within me (no pun intended!) And it serves the tone of this piece. Again, beautiful and a bit haunting.
I think everyone will connect to the music in this show. I also think it has the potential to become one of musical theatre’s well-known contemporary scores.
Me: What were the challenges of writing a musical for 3 characters?
Brett: It’s funny you ask that. When Tess and I first sat down, we thought, “Well…writing a small cast musical has to be easier than writing a big ensemble show.” That definitely didn’t end up being the case. Don’t get me wrong. There are definitely benefits. Things like really having time to develop the characters and their relationships. But…you forget about mechanical things like costume changes, keeping everything active and “in the now,” and resisting the urge to allow every scene to fall into the same expositional pattern between the same two people. I think these are some of the reasons why there aren’t many successful, producible 3 character musicals. We like to think Time Between Us will soon make that list a little longer.
(Kasey Marino and Marisa Dargahi singing
Me: What are you most looking forward to about NYMF?
Brett: First and foremost, I’m thrilled to be working with this incredible team. Our cast is outstanding! Kristy Cates (best known as Elphaba in Wicked) and Kasey Marino (best known from Broadway's Hairspray) are starring as Morgan and Matthew. They are joined by Tom Rainey as The Man.
Our brilliant director, Richard Amelius, is an outstanding storyteller, and I couldn't feel more grateful to have him bringing this story to life. R.Erin Craig at La Vie Productions, and the list goes on and on. Truly a "dream team!"
This will be the first time Tess and I see a full production of Time Between Us. I think that’s something to be really excited about. We’ve been waiting to share this story with audiences for so long, and the time has finally come!