Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Teenage Dreams: Behind the Music-al Style

I know I'm super late in doing a post about the last installment of the Behind the Music-al series at 92Y Tribeca last month, but I was waiting for videos to be posted so I could give you a taste of some of the awesomeness going on at that event. There was a lot of new material being shared, as well as new interpretations of old favorites, so I thought that being able to share specific performances was key.

The theme of the night was Teenage Dreams, and this was not your Katy Perry love song fantasy (though there's nothing wrong with that, especially singing along at the top of your lungs in the show-- I mean, what?). Instead, moderator Steve Fickinger posed interesting questions not only about the desires of young people, many of which were addressed directly in the songs presented, but also what it's like writing for young actors and how to frame depictions of young people.

Organizers Kyle Ewalt and Michael Walker tackled this material with songs from their show Separate: Battle Songs of Youth, a musical that follows different young men enlisting in war throughout time. It's very exciting to piece together songs from this show at each of the Behind the Music-al installments, and this evening's show didn't disappoint in showing a few other perspectives of boys on the brink of becoming men. Molly Hager also tore the roof off the place singing a song from a new project that will hopefully incorporate more of Michael's dance/electronica style.

Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk shared some favorites from their catalog, presenting songs from The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown and Tales from the Bad Years. Not only was Brian's beautiful music wonderfully showcased through three amazing singers, but Kait's skills as a book writer were shown through conversation about dealing with what is considered 'age appropriate' material and what it means to have faith in audiences to be as real to experience as possible. I also liked how Brian pinpointed something that I have always had the utmost respect for in their music: once the melody is worked out, songs can have fluidity in how they are arranged and orchestrated to continually have fresh interpretations. That was clear with songwriters like Joanna Burns and Jesse Ruben taking the music into their own creative hands (along with a mind-blowing performance by the always talented Kate Shindle).

Last but never least, Nick Blaemire played some of his own music (with one song pitch-perfectly portrayed by Molly Hager), displaying his great dexterity with language and ability to write very authentic voices of young people at life's crossroads. With a song from After Robert Hutchens, Nick showed the fitfulness and struggle in the face of new responsibility. This was only strengthened when Nick talked about his new musical, When the World Ends, which continues to put his characters in extraordinary circumstances that reveal uncomfortable, yet strangely optimistic truths.

Check out all the videos from the Teenage Dream event here, and be on the lookout for the next installment! It's a wonderful opportunity to hear some really talented people articulate the things that drive their work, as well as some really awesome new songs.

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