Archive for February, 2004

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Saturday, February 21st, 2004

I thought I’d post a few thoughts about The Score and the Cast Recording of Wicked, which I have been listening to and enjoying immensely. Since his earliest efforts, composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz has sought to bring the sounds of popular contemporary music (“pop music”) to the musical stage, and his efforts have been rewarded with considerable success, but the scope and quality of this current project is fairly breathtaking. It’s always a treat to find something on the commercial Main Stem with such quality and inventiveness. Big kudos are due to orchestrator Bill Brohn too, who marshals a huge orchestra to great effect. A real treat.

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Tuesday, February 3rd, 2004

Lots of days have gone by since my last entry. Too busy living to blog, I guess – imagine that! Readers of these occasional posts may be interested to know that the first reading of GEMINI The Musical took place last week, the culmination of a frenzy of activity that began in earnest back on November 20, barely two months ago. Even with time off for Christmas, Albert and I created the first draft of the musical in that short span of time. Our producers and colleagues at the Prince Music Theater are astonished not only by the speed of our work but the quality of our efforts. Last Friday was a milestone, an opportunity to step back and appraise the sum of our efforts to date.
The reading featured a group of local actors that included Tom Teti from Peoples Light as Fran, my beloved D’Arcy as Lucille, UArts seniors Matt Hultgren and Colleen Hazlett as Francis and Judith, my favorite diva Claudia Carlsson as Maria Callas and UArts alum Kendra Lemauro as Bunny. Also on hand: Bryan Mergenthaler and Mike Newman, two other UArts students who played Herschel and Randy, respectively. All learned the score from me and music director Eric Ebbenga in three short rehearsals and tremblingly took the stage at the Prince on Friday to present their work. Thanks and thanks again to all of them for their diligent efforts on behalf of our new musical.
In the audience on Friday, a surprise guest – composer William Bolcom and his wife Joan Morris, in Philly for appearances that weekend. I knew them slightly from having played the premiere of Bill’s opera Casino Paradise in the 1980’s, and have always been a huge fan of his music. Their words of encouragement meant a great deal to me.
Now comes the fun part – or the hard part, depending on how you look at it: sorting out the good from the could-be-better; deciding whether the changes needed are cosmetic or substantial and structural; determining which flaws were the result of the writing and which were the inevitable consequence of our hastily-assembled reading. We’ve tentatively set another reading for April, giving ourselves two months for rewriting. Having written an entire musical in two months, I don’t doubt our ability to rewrite one in that span of time.
Last night, Albert, Doug and I assembled with our families for a little celebration – Italian food seemed appropriate for the occasion, with our local markets and bakeries providing the roasted peppers, sharp provolone, olives, pancetta, bread and cheesecake we feasted on. Now Albert goes home to Beacon (for a little while, at least), Doug starts rehearsals for The Great Ostrovsky, and we begin a new chapter in the adventure. Stay tuned.