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"Our First Christmas" now available on ITunes

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Our First Christmas from ALL THAT HE WAS - performed by the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles

It's Official! '40 is the New 15' opens July 16 at the NoHo Arts Center


Follow my blog over the next two months while I update you on every step of the process! 


February 28 - 'Next To Normal'


On Saturday the 28th my partner and I took time out from my busy production schedule to see 'Next To Normal' on Broadway.  I had previously downloaded the music on iTunes, so I thought I knew what to expect, but the show far exceeded my expectations.  From a production standpoint, the show was impressive across the board, and the performances (particularly of the two female leads) were spectacular.  What I wasn't expecting is how moving and emotional it is; and that despite the many leaps in time and place, the storytelling and character arcs are quite clear.  

Much of the music, as is often true in a 'character study' piece, involved the main characters expressing their feelings directly and unapologetically to each other and/or the audience.  My work got criticized a bit for doing this last weekend, and it was somewhat vindicating to see an award-winning Broadway show full of such songs.

Some of the most effective moments in the show, however, involved characters describing a memory or event with a set of lyrics that evoked an emotion as much as or more than told a story.

From a learning perspective, this show stands as an example to me that an audience will follow a show much more nimbly than one might expect, and that I can perhaps allow myself to be more poetic, more 'random' and perhaps even more obtuse, without necessarily losing the audience in the process.

I would highly recommend the show, which approaches dysfunctionality and mental illness in a raw and approachable way.  I enjoyed it, and was impressed by it, but more importantly, it moved me.




February 25 - 28 'All That He Was' at Tisch




The cast of "All That He Was"                         Ryan Amador (director), Cindy O'Connor (composer)


Will Seefried and the thankful writer


Composer Cindy O'Connor and I traveled to New York this past weekend to attend the NYU/Tisch School of the Arts student production of our musical 'All That He Was'.  We weren't involved much, other than to answer a few questions here and there, with the production.  So, of course, we had some fears that it might not live up to our expectations.

I was completely blown away by the cast and by the direction, and the audience was as well.  I attended on three subsequent evenings, and all three were sold out.  Two of the three shows received standing ovations, and many people came up to me afterwards in tears to thank me for the show.  It was an overwhelming feeling, and one I will not soon forget.

Particularly effective were the five primary characters, all of whom were fantastic actor/singers, and embued their roles with aggressive, interesting and dynamic choices.

The director, Ryan Amador, made so many unusual and effective moves which I can't possibly list here.  So many illustrations of memories which are not dictated in the script and were very effective.  Most effective of all, however, was his choice to keep all of the characters interspersed throughout the audience for much of the show, which really made us feel like we were no just observers, but participants in the 'event.'  Based on what I saw this weekend... Ryan is a great director.

In one of the male leads, Will Seefried was also exceptionally effective.  The character is loosely based on occasions and events in my own life, and it was (and always is) so odd to see someone else play a role in which I recognize myself.  A highly flawed character, of course, as those of you who know me will attest, and the trick is to make him likeable and active, and pointedly funny, without being brash, overly self-effacing, or self centered.  (These are all things I face in my own life, of course.  This self-centered paragraph illustrates that point.)  Will was instantly likeable and pulled it off with aplomb (better than I often do in my own life.)  Of course, he is much more adorable than I am or ever was, which doesn't hurt.

It was an amazing weekend, and I have to admit I am somewhat depressed that my 'month of theatre' is actually over.  I hereby promise, therefore,  to create many more 'months of theatre' in the coming years.  And to keep you all posted!



February 20th and 21st - Travels

I got up at the crack of dawn Saturday, returned the rental car, repacked my bags so they'd fit within weight limits, and got to my gate just to sit and wait.  On Saturday evening I returned to Chicago after a long delay at the Burbank airport, including nearly an hour on the tarmac.  My partner and I grabbed a nice dinner and Margaritas at That Little Mexican Cafe, and then settled in for what ended out to be 10 hours of sleep. 

Sunday it was catch-up day, dealing with over 300 emails, transferring files to my desktop from my laptop, sorting through all of my snail mail, paying bills and balancing checkbooks.

Meanwhile, Cindy and I began the careful discussion of what to do next with '40 is the New 15.'  A new song for Winter in Act Two?  A new opening number?  A reorganization of the scenework to make it less structured and therefore less predicatable?  Changes to 'Something Wrong With Him' and 'Flying By?'  A revamped closing number?  We shall see.  All of this may have to happen quickly, as it appears that with the backing of ANMT and some private investors, there will be another production this summer; this time with a substantially increased budget, and a beautiful venue, the NoHo Arts Center.  Fingers crossed!


Friday February 19th - Closing Day

On Friday night the Disney/ASCAP workshop wrapped with a presentation of 'Empire Burlesque' by Dan Castellanetta and Deb Lacusta (bookwriter/lyricists) and Laura Hall (composer).  They did the first 50 minutes of the show, which included 25 minutes which they had presented two weeks ago.  I appreciated their efforts, their rewrites were effective, and it continues to be an intriguing (but not-fully-realized) concept.  The show, told in the manner of a burlesque, describes the political climate at the turn of the last century, drawing obvious parallels to the current political situation.  For me, of course, the best part was their clear left-wing political leanings (or am I reading that into it because of my elitist intellectual bias?)

Anyway... It was relaxing being able to see a show knowing my work was done.  Cindy and I said our goodbyes, and celebrated a successful three weeks.  Now it's back to Chicago for a few days... before heading off to NYC!

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