If two musicals were given a reading in the Valley and the writer couldn't attend, would they make a sound?
California-based Academy for New Musical Theatre is presenting concert performances of two new musicals for which I'm a collaborating writer.
Windjammers, for which I'm composer to Robin Share's libretto, is a musical play based on the stories of the last of the Great Lakes merchant sailors.
In the Minds of Olympians is a musical revue viewing the world of 1948 London and 2012 London through the mind of athletes and the metaphor of sport. This project is a collaboration between ANMT and Mercury Musical Developments in London and involves American and British writers. The book for Olympians is written by Scott Guy, with different composers and lyricists providing the musicalization of each scene.
The Academy's acting company will present both works as in a concert performance on February 14, 2011 at the Colony Theatre in Burbank CA.
Working with a director, music director, dramaturgical staff, and actors in rehearsal; attending a performance; and discussing the work in an audience talkback session are incredibly valuable experiences for a writer's growth, and for the growth of these projects into shows into full production-readiness. No phone conversation with a director, no series of notes conveyed through a collaborator, and no transcriptions of audience comment cards can substitute for the experience of being in the room during rehearsal and performance.
A grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to the Academy in support of out-of-town writers has not been renewed this year. Due to the regulations of Actors' Equity and the Musicians' Union, we are prohibited from recording the performance, even for the benefit of those geographically-distant collaborators.
I strive to ensure that my scores are as accurate as possible to my intentions, but every composer facing a premiere understands that some vital detail will be missed. I know what Windjammers feels like at the piano, and how it sounds when I work out the vocal parts myself, but I don't know how the show plays. Similarly, I know my segment of Olympians very well, but because there are so many writers, I have no sense of the "big picture" of the show. And, finally, although this concert performance is not a backers' audition, we writers are offered the chance to invite members of the theatre industry to hear our work. Such an invitation means something less if the writer is unable to attend the performance and greet those potentially-important guests.
* * * The Pitch Honestly, if we bumped into each other on the street, I bet you'd offer to buy me a latte. (I know I'd do the same for you.) I enjoy a frothy, warm beverage as much as anyone, but what I really would appreciate today is assistance in getting to, and participating as fully as possible in, this reading.
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A limited-edition essay reporting on the experience of participating in the reading; and a limited-edition recording of selections from WINDJAMMERS and ...OLYMPIANS, performed by the composer. An invitation to the concert performance will be extended to any contributors in Southern California.
- (15 days)