Octet is a chamber choir musical about internet addiction, written and composed by Dave Malloy (that's me!), directed by Annie Tippe, with music supervision and direction by Or Matias. Featuring a score for an a cappella chamber choir and an original libretto inspired by internet comment boards, scientific debates, Tarot, and Sufi poetry, Octet explores addiction and nihilism within the messy context of 21st century technology. The show was commissioned and developed by Signature Theatre, premiering on May 19, 2019, as the first production of my Signature Residency 5, which will include two more productions over the course of the next five years.
I have been singularly overwhelmed by the response this show has received; so many lovely texts and tweets and reviews from friends and fans and critics, talking about what this show has meant to people processing their own relationships, good and bad, to the Monster that is the internet. It was terrifying and exhilarating to write a show so intensely personal and contemporary (typically my shows deal with text written at least 200 years ago), and I'm thrilled that it has meant so much to so many.
After three extensions, we close for good on June 30, at which point the music will disappear into the ether, never to be heard again...unless we raise the money to make a cast recording!
New York Times Critic’s Pick..."If you choose not to attend, you will be missing what promises to be the most original and topical musical of the year…this beautiful, absorbing, disturbing work is a win for art.” – Ben Brantley, The New York Times.
THE CAST RECORDING
(Original tarot art by Pamela Colman Smith)
Cast recordings are the lifeblood of musical theater...so many of us in this field grew up listening to original cast recordings over and over, singing along with every line until the scores were engraved in our DNA. Cast recordings allow a show to be accessible to all, sending its message out to a worldwide audience and preserving the work of all the incredible artists involved.
For Octet, we hope to capture the intimate, vulnerable rawness our phenomenal cast delivers to an audience at every performance, so we will be recording the show live in its closing weeks. We hope to release the 12 tracks via Bandcamp (an amazing platform for independent musicians that I used to release Ghost Quartet back in 2014), followed by Spotify, iTunes, and other streaming services; and we also hope to have a limited edition CD (1,000 copies), available exclusively through this Kickstarter, Bandcamp, and the Signature bookstore.
But, all of this is expensive!
“5 STARS...A splendidly wrought new musical!” – Adam Feldman, Time Out New York.
Making a cast recording requires paying all the performers and stage manager, plus the music and sound teams, other audio engineers, and all the other people involved in all the steps it takes to record, mix, master, design, and distribute the recording. We also need to pay for the physical CDs themselves, and the costs of digital distribution.
The simple economic truth is that cast recordings almost never recoup their costs; the expense is simply too great, and the audience, though passionate and voracious and wonderful, too small. Broadway productions have commercial producers funding the recordings, as an asset they can use to promote the show both for its initial run and for touring; but at smaller, non-profit off-Broadway houses like Signature, there is typically not enough money in the annual budget to meet the cost. The total budget for the Octet recording is about $60,000; actually relatively low for a cast recording, both because we don't have a band and Signature and I are taking on some costs in-kind. Signature is incredibly generously working hard to raise half of that total within their network of incredibly generous donors—but the remaining $30,000 has to be raised here on Kickstarter.
“Extraordinary and exhilarating! That rare and thrilling thing: a new musical that really does feel new.” – Sara Holdren, Vulture/NY Magazine.
Octet is an a cappella musical—almost all of the music comes from eight extraordinary, virtuosic, superhuman voices. This cast transports and astounds me every time I hear them; I simply cannot wait to have these amazing performers heard all over the world:
ADAM BASHIAN (In Transit)
KIM BLANCK (Alice By Heart, Folk Wandering)
STARR BUSBY (Apollo Music Café: The Soul Cypher)
ALEX GIBSON (SpongeBob SquarePants the Musical)
JUSTIN GREGORY LOPEZ (NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar Live)
J.D. MOLLISON (Les Misérables, first Broadway revival)
MARGO SEIBERT (In Transit)
KUHOO VERMA (The Big Sick)
In addition to the cast, these amazing folks helped make this world premiere production at Signature:
ANNIE TIPPE (Director)
OR MATIAS (Music Supervisor & Music Director)
AMY RUBIN (Co-Scenic Designer)
BRITTANY VASTA (Co-Scenic Designer)
BRENDA ABBANDANDOLO (Costume Designer)
CHRISTOPHER BOWSER (Lighting Designer)
HIDENORI NAKAJO (Sound Designer)
SIMONE ALLEN (Assistant Music Director)
JONATHAN CHRISTOPHER (Understudy)
NICOLE WEISS (Understudy)
HENRY RUSSELL BERGSTEIN (Casting)
MARISA MICHELSON (Vocal Coach)
JHANAË K-C BONNICK (Production Stage Manager)
KATE ANN WILSON (Assistant Stage Manager)
And a little more about me and Signature:
DAVE MALLOY (music, lyrics, book, vocal arrangements) is a composer, writer, performer, and orchestrator. His shows include Octet; Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 (12 Tony nominations, including Best Musical, Score, Book, and Orchestrations); Ghost Quartet; Preludes; Black Wizard/Blue Wizard; Three Pianos; All Hands; Beardo; Beowulf - A Thousand Years of Baggage; The Sewers; Sandwich; Clown Bible; and (The 99-cent) Miss Saigon. He is the winner of two Obie Awards, a Smithsonian Ingenuity Award, a Theatre World Award, the Richard Rodgers Award, an ASCAP New Horizons Award, and a Jonathan Larson Grant. Future projects include an adaptation of Moby-Dick. He lives in Brooklyn.
The Tony Award-winning SIGNATURE THEATRE is one of NYC’s most beloved not-for-profit theaters. Dedicated to celebrating playwrights and giving them an artistic home, Signature makes an extended commitment to its resident writers and their bodies of work. Each season, Signature produces six plays by resident playwrights at the Frank Gehry-designed Pershing Square Signature Center, which houses three state-of-the-art theaters and a Café + Bar and Bookstore. Dave Malloy is Signature’s first musical theatre writer-in-residence, and OCTET is the first musical that Signature has ever produced. Over the course of his Residency 5, Dave will write two more new musicals for Signature, in addition to OCTET. Other shows that Signature has developed and produced through Residency 5 include Annie Baker’s JOHN and THE ANTIPODES, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ APPROPRIATE and EVERYBODY, Quiara Alegría Hudes’ DAPHNE’S DIVE, Dominique Morisseau’s PARADISE BLUE and Will Eno’s THE OPEN HOUSE and WAKEY WAKEY.
“Not only is OCTET one of the most thought-provoking and soul-stirring musicals I’ve seen in ages, it has an ingeniously woven, harmonically lush score that you’ll want to revisit.” – David Cote, The Observer.
Risks and challenges
We would love to share this music with all the people who came and want to revisit it, and with all the many many people who could not attend our short run. But we can't make this recording without your help... so we hope you'll consider using this Kickstarter to pre-order the recording, or giving at a higher level and getting some of the many exclusive rewards we are offering, including signed CDs and playbills, a signed score, a "Friends of Saul" acknowledgement, and special invites to my upcoming Signature shows.
It's what Saul would want!
—Dave, and all of us at OCTET
- (29 days)