As I discussed last week, this past weekend was the first ever TudorCon at which myself and a small cast performed a concert of music from The King’s Legacy as the con’s Saturday night entertainment.
So silly. So fun. And wonderfully affirming!
I met a lovely group of smart, giving, caring individuals who all gathered together to share their love of this time period and its stories. And even more than that, they gathered together to support the research, knowledge, and creations of the speakers and their fellow attendees.
After the concert, a small group of people was standing around speaking with some of the performers, and they were asking where they would be able to see the show next.
Now, as you know dear readers, this depends entirely on when and where there is an interest to produce the show, as well as having the money behind it to make it happen. And this was explained to the group.
But then one of the women said: “You should start a Patreon page! I would definitely give, and I bet many other people would as well!”
And what a delightfully canny idea that was! Read more
Yes folks, you heard (read?) that right! TudorCon.
The world’s first ever TudorCon, in fact.
And The King’s Legacy has been booked to provide the Saturday night entertainment at the con’s inaugural year with a concert of music from the show!
“So, what is this thing?”
“What are you doing there?”
“And why should I care?”
I love your propensity for questions, dear reader! Read more
“…than this Provincial life!”
Sorry, I just needed to have my Belle moment. That’s totally not what this post is about. I just adore that score.
Over the past week I saw 3 shows - 2 Broadway and 1 Off-Broadway.
These shows were (in the order I saw them):
The Inheritance Part 1
Now, regardless of how I felt about each of these shows, or how much I did or did not enjoy them individually, they all had something in common per my experience in watching them.
At one point (at least) in every one of these shows I had the thought: “…But must we? This again? Isn’t there more out there? There must be more.”
Allow me to explain. Read more
For those of you who are not aware, in the theatre we have this thing where you’re allowed to call “hold.”
“What does that mean…?”
During the tech process of a show, it is common practice that anyone in the room is allowed to call “hold!” and stop the rehearsal process. This could be due to a safety concern, a missing element (prop, costume, light, etc), something that went wrong onstage or backstage, a person missing an entrance, needing to fix a technical moment, a mis-fired cue…or for so many more reasons.
Basically, you can call “hold” for anything major that goes wrong because everything is a priority.
I want to repeat this.
Anyone in the room is allowed to call “hold” because everything is a priority. And not a single person in that room will (rightly) judge you for it.
“Okay. So what?” Read more
What is a chorus? And for that matter, what is a verse?
These seem like fairly general music terms that we all know, but do we?
I’m pretty sure that most people could at least tell you that they’ve heard of the terms chorus, verse, and bridge before, and could most likely give you a general definition.
Well, at least as far as pop music goes.
But in musical theatre, these things have a slightly different meaning. And it has dawned on me slowly over the past several years that there are many creatives in the industry (directors, performers, etc., and yes, some writers) who are not exactly sure what these terms mean when applied to musical theatre music.
So, what do they mean? Read more
Lately, I’ve been hearing a common refrain from people throughout my life - friends, family, students, parents, and even strangers and acquaintances on social media…
“I’m just so tired. Everything is exhausting.”
And when exploring this a little further, I’ve begun to notice a pattern. A very common pattern, in fact, and one that I have fallen into many times.
Does this - or something like it - sound familiar?
Zombie out in front of electronics
Rinse and repeat.
This is a common pattern - and I have absolutely nothing against patterns or routines, I personally thrive off them! But the above doesn’t seem to be leaving much, if any, time for joy.
Now, I’m not talking about carving out big periods of time on a daily basis for “relaxation” or regularly skiving off obligations to instead do something fun. What I’m talking about is finding a way to include just a little bit of joy in your daily life. Just a little bit of sunshine amidst all the necessities.
But how? Read more
Anyone who knows me well knows that - in all honesty - I’m not very good at telling stories.
Now, I’d like to qualify this a little since - yes - I’m aware that I’m making a career as both a writer and a performer, which are both types of professional storytelling. And when I can provide a narrative in such a structured, prepared, and well-crafted way, I feel totally confident delivering an engaging story.
But as for more pedestrian, real-life stories? It’s been a struggle.
It was first pointed out to me about five years ago when someone turned to me and said:
“Yeesh. I hope you’re a better writer than storyteller!”
Ouch. Harsh, Gretch.
But it was true! I have always loved telling anecdotes from life, particularly the funny or really out-there ones, but I tend to hold my tongue these days because I know that my stories tend not to land.
So I’ve worked on it. I’ve researched (cuz it’s me) how to tell a good oral story and what makes this craft different from a written story, and I think I’ve improved greatly. Huzzah!
But why am I bringing this up now?
Well, if this summer taught me one thing only (and it taught me waaaaay more than that), it’s that people of all walks of life respond to nothing as well as they respond to a good story. Read more
You know how you sometimes have this dream - it could be a nighttime thing, or a daydream, or some lofty ethereal goal - but it’s something you just can’t quite imagine. It’s there and you can almost picture it, but only ever just almost.
I’ve had so many of these dreams that I lost count long ago. But I think it’s something that’s just in the DNA of artists and creative types.
Well, beginning sometime around the fall of 2016 I had this dream (the goal kind) of what it would be like, feel like, look like, sound like, etc to see The King’s Legacy - which had finally found the correct structure - come to life in a full production.
It simultaneously felt easily attainable and yet a thousand years off. I truly could almost see it happening. But it wasn’t happening - not yet anyway. So all I could do was just keep imagining and letting various scenarios pass through my head.
But I will tell you that, when it came down to the reality, it was nothing like I had imagined.
It was so much better. Read more
December 6th, 2012 - There existed a first draft of a script, including a large portion of lyrics.
March 14th, 2013 - I had a fully realized first draft with all scenes, music, and lyrics completed.
And so it all began.
It’s been a long long road to the first ever full production of The King’s Legacy, and what a strange, magical, frustrating, and fantastical journey it has been. It’s had its peaks and valleys, but it has brought us to where we are now: Less than one day away from the first rehearsal for the premiere production. (!!!)
So how did it all start? Where did the show come from? And how did it get to where it is today?
As per usual, I’m thrilled you asked! Read more
We often ask a lot of our performers - and directors, designers, and everyone else of course as well, but this post is performer-focused.
We especially ask a lot of our performers in a summer stock rehearsal setting.
But sometimes we ask for even a little more.
Perhaps you have a special skill that the director would like to include in a show. For example: you play an instrument, you tumble, you’re a gymnast, you can juggle, you can do impersonations…or a thousand other possible talents.
And then there are shows that ask for even more than a little more, and to do it all in 8 days.
And that, my friends, is the zany, fast-paced romp that is Murder For Two at Bristol Valley Theater! Read more
This past Monday night I was honored and overjoyed to attend the 4th annual Arts For Autism Broadway benefit concert!
For those of you who have not yet heard about this event, please allow me to tell you about the magic that is late June evening each year. Read more
One of the absolute best parts of the theater that I feel people don’t talk about enough is the people - the community.
Sure, every June as we all get ready to sit down together in NYC and across the country to watch the Tony Awards, or are preparing for one of the major benefits like Broadway Bares, or even just during Pride Month in general, theatrical and non-theatrical publications will talk briefly about how Broadway is a community. And it is! It’s a fantastic community with the same pros and cons that any community might have.
But only “Broadway” is discussed as being the community itself.
And as soon as you call something the “Broadway” community, there is an innate elitism to that term - whether geographically or in terms of production budget - which gets thrown into everyone’s minds.
But what is this Broadway community? Is it just the thousands of people actively working in NYC’s largest theatrical houses? Just those who contribute to the city’s multi-billion dollar industry?
I don’t think so, no.
I think the Broadway community is far larger than that. Personally, I would consider the Broadway community to include anyone and everyone working in theatre across the entire country. I would even consider the Broadway community to include the multitude of theatre lovers - those who don’t necessarily work in the industry, but participate through other means by supporting those who do, or even just attending all productions they can and keeping tabs on what’s happening in the industry.
In my opinion, it is crucial to consider everyone involved in the theatre everywhere as part of the Broadway community.
Allow me to explain! Read more
The term “Devised Theatre” tends to elicit strong reactions from people - whether that be eyes lighting up in excitement, a shudder in remembrance of the ghosts of devised theatre past, or questioning looks from those who aren’t exactly sure what it means.
Essentially, devised theatre is a theatrical piece including any performance elements (dance, music, lights, speech, sound, movement, etc.) that was built from the ground up by an ensemble of people without a physical, linear-plot script.
Often these types of piece are made to be experimental and off-the-beaten-path, and audiences aren’t necessarily expected to feel a sense of familiarity in experiencing the performance.
But then, other times that’s exactly what they are meant to feel. And that’s where it gets super tricky.
Tonight is the official opening night of So Happy Together: The Music of the Swingin’ 60’s at Bristol Valley Theater - for which I am the Musical Director - and that’s precisely what this show was built to be: a devised musical revue show meant to be a delightful, familiar, and joy-sparking experience for the audience.
And folks…I think we did it?!?!
But how? Read more
Well, folks. For me, summer has now officially arrived!
I am now settled into Naples, NY for a three-show contract that will take most of my summer between June 1st-September 1st! (There will also be a little vacation and a week-long teaching contract thrown in the middle there as well!) And it’s all going to be super fun and not crazy or exhausting at all!
Well, not quite. It’s all extremely exciting, but it will be incredibly busy as well!
So let me tell you a little about the exciting parts while I have your attention! :-D Read more
Let’s have a brief conversation - one-sided, of course, since this is a blog post :-) - about stress and physical injury in the theatre.
This is a topic that most artists - performers in particular - avoid, and for a few reasons:
Injury is scary and no one wants to think about it.
Everyone has stress and no one wants to look like the “complainer.”
Injury has become stigmatized as something shameful.
We wear our stress, and ability to handle it, as a badge of honor.
There are others as well, but I generally see these as the biggest reasons this topic is avoided. People don’t want to talk about these things, but if we don’t talk about them they become these big scary monsters that we hope we won’t have to endure.
But we do.
Stress and injury will affect everyone at some point, so let’s just talk about it. Read more
Most people - and writers in particular - are drawn to stories about larger-than-life people, figures, and times. Moments and personalities that disrupted the status quo and changed the course of history. The extraordinary.
These are the stories that live on, passed down through facts and records (contemporary and non), as well as rumor, gossip, and anecdotes that may or may not include a kernel of truth.
The people at the center of these stories are some of the most compelling, and they have attracted the attention of people throughout generations.
And writers love them.
Historians and creative writers alike love to tackle these gigantic stories filled with change and drama, as well as mystery and intrigue, and put their own spins on them. But what they never tell you is just how difficult these people and stories are to write.
I too have fallen victim to this type of alluring narrative and - despite this post’s title - I am not speaking about the great historical mystery of Anastasia as adapted by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty.
I’m talking about one of Western history’s most debated women from one of English history’s most infamous time periods:
Anne Boleyn. Read more
Society - particularly American society - loves to demonize or to “other” art and artists.
We deride people who create:
“Oh, you’re an artist? You’re one of those.”
“Oh, you’re a writer? I wish I could sit at home all day.”
“Oh, you’re an actor? You must love starving.”
These are of course specific examples using common ideas and tropes, but these kinds of reactions are common and probably sound familiar to you.
We tell people who want to go into the arts:
“Why would you to throw your life away?”
“But you have so much potential!”
“But there’s no money in the arts!”
Being a creator is clearly seen as being *less than,* but why? Less than what? Why would we consider becoming an artist or writer or performer or designer a path that is throwing your life away or not using your skills and talents?
But this type of thinking and behavior not only can be unlearned, but it needs to be unlearned. Art and the products of creation are everywhere, but we’ve been conditioned to have a blind spot for most of it, and what we do see we are told to feel contempt for. Let’s just see how pervasive art is, shall we? Read more