Presenting the fifth of 9 writing teams in the 2017 Musical Theater Lab!  Each team will be presenting a new mini-musical in culminating lab concert performance, World Views, on July 8th (link here for details!).  These writers were selected through a competitive application process, and in these brief Q&As you’ll get some behind the scenes insight into their process and work.  Our next profile is the writing team of Emily Kaczmarek and Zoe Sarnak.

This year’s lab assignment was to create a musical inspired by a work of visual art found in an NYC museum.

Fishing Boats

Artwork: Fishing Boats Entering Calais Harbor by Joseph Mallord William Turner

Title of your Mini-Musical: “Afloat”

1. Were you familiar your with painting / artist prior to the lab process and if so what were your impressions?

We were unfamiliar with our painting before the lab process. We were familiar with Turner by name, but this was a portal into getting to know his aesthetic.

2. What drew you to the painting? Were your impulses more abstract, or did the image evoke any specific personal experiences or responses for your team?

The image of a boat on a rough sea, visceral and full of energy, pulled us in initially. Then we realized that the painting could relate to an idea we had already been discussing– a dystopian scenario: in the near future, with global warning causing rising tides and storms until half of NYC is underwater, a group of young adults might decide to escape to the sea rather than live in refugee camps. Something about the painting felt timeless in its capturing of an elemental yet dangerous freedom: humanity taking to the ocean.

3. How was the lab writing process for your group? Was it different or similar to experiences you’ve had before?

It was great! We’ve written together before and continue to do so. This process has been really fun because we’ve gotten to explore a seed of an idea and see what feels like to musicalize a portion of it. The lab has offered a structured but liberated space in which we’ve been able to experiment.

4. How does your piece in the lab relate to the rest of your body of work? Is it a new direction or collaboration, or a continuation / deepening of styles or themes you have explored previously?

A bit of both. We have a rhythm now as collaborators. We also have certain themes that we’re drawn to– family, identity formation, strong heroines– and we value earnest, accessible storytelling that is also smart and challenging. That said, this project allows us to flex some new muscles. Zoe is writing a gospel/hip-hop infused score– music she’s been inspired by and worked with in the past, but never really in a stage musical setting. Emily is tackling something a bit different too; the book has to establish a heightened, dystopian, action-packed world (in under ten minutes). It’s great to be able to expand our shared repertoire, so to speak.

5. Which of the other lab musicals are you most curious to see and why?

All of them! 🙂 The story of the girl with the balloon is particularly poignant, especially knowing it’s based on a true story. Hopeful stories of human connection across boundaries feel critically important right now.

Emily Kaczmarek is a playwright, librettist, screenwriter, and performer. Works include: Sam & Lizzie (semifinalist, Premiere Stages Play Festival), Afterwards (music & lyrics by Zoe Sarnak; Village Theatre Festival of New Musicals, upcoming; MTF-Playwrights Horizons Artist Residency; Eugene O’Neill Artist Residency; NYMF Developmental Reading Series), Alma Mater and Landed (music & lyrics by Zoe Sarnak, dir: Nathan Brewer; commissions, New York Film Academy), American Kids (BoxFest Detroit; This Is Water Co.; Women in Arts & Media Coalition), Paper & Glue (Future of Storytelling conference; NYU; various high schools), and Anything New (commission, NYU; Wombat Theatre Co). By day, Emily teaches with the college access program SEO Scholars.

Zoe Sarnak’s works include: Secret Soldiers (with Marsha Norman), Galileo (with Danny Strong, Michael Weiner, dir. Michael Mayer), Afterwords (with Emily Kaczmarek, Playwrights Horizons-MTF workshop), The Years Between (with Kirsten Guenther), Landed/Alma Mater (with Emily Kaczmarek, NYFA commissions), Transport Group Commission (with Michele Lowe), and Teddy & Max (with Brian Crawley). Awards include: Davenport Songwriting contest winner, NY Stage & Film’s Founders Award finalist, Fred Ebb Award finalist, Billie Burke Ziegfeld Award Honoree, Women’s Project Lab. Residencies include: The Public Theater, Goodspeed, Williamstown Theatre Festival, New York Theatre Workshop, O’Neill, and Rhinebeck Writers Retreat. Music featured: NY Times, Lilly Awards, and more.

 

 

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Presenting the fourth of 9 writing teams in the 2017 Musical Theater Lab!  Each team will be presenting a new mini-musical in culminating lab concert performance, World Views, on July 8th (link here for details!).  These writers were selected through a competitive application process, and in these brief Q&As you’ll get some behind the scenes insight into their process and work.  Our next profile is the writing team of Anton Dudley and Faye Chiao.

This year’s lab assignment was to create a musical inspired by a work of visual art found in an NYC museum.

Red Cross

Artwork: Red Cross Work Room 5th Avenue, NYC during the War by Jane Peterson

Title of your Mini-Musical: “The Clinic”

1. Were you familiar your with painting / artist prior to the lab process and if so what were your impressions?  

Neither of us were familiar with the painting, however, we knew this was the one.  For such a quiet and still scene, there is an enormous amount of tension, exacerbated by the looming threat of the “To Let” sign.  And all those women!.. laboring for the Red Cross, dressed like nuns.  There was so much narrative to be mined.

2. What drew you to the painting?  Were your impulses more abstract, or did the image evoke any specific personal experiences or responses for your team?  

In this current political environment, the importance of generosity of spirit and compassion, both of which are captured in the painting, seem particularly important.  This generosity is juxtaposed with something darker: a sense of impermanence and disappointment – that duality felt very human and immediate, the story came to us, instantly, as did its sound.

3. How was the lab writing process for your group?  Was it different or similar to experiences you’ve had before?

We’ve written both songs and larger works, but never a ten-minute musical.  This process has been a great learning experience: we started with the idea for an epic story then made it into a sort of balsamic reduction to fit the form… the end result was thrilling – especially to have it brought to life immediately after writing it – usually, you have to wait a while before the show steps off the page.  

4. How does your piece in the lab relate to the rest of your body of work?  Is it a new direction or collaboration, or a continuation / deepening of styles or themes you have explored previously?

We like to keep challenging ourselves in both style and form.  So far, we’ve created a one-act musical, a children’s theater piece, and some cabaret songs – and have received grants and commissions to develop an opera, an orchestral piece, and a full length musical; the lab was a wonderful opportunity to continue both our exploration of musical storytelling and look at yet another side of the prism of humanity.

5. Which of the other lab musicals are you most curious to see and why?

We’re excited to hear all the pieces!  Aliens, familial relationships, trash on beaches… it’s inspiring to be a part of this talented group of theater makers.

Faye Chiao is an award-winning composer of musical theater, opera and concert music. Chiao’s work has been commissioned and presented by: Single Carrot Theater, The Lunar Ensemble, The Johns Hopkins University, and with Anton Dudley American Dream Theater, Playwright’s Realm, and the Boston Chamber Symphony. As a mezzo-soprano and founding member of the Corvus Ensemble, Chiao appears regularly on stage and in recital performing innovative programs of art song and chamber music. Chiao holds degrees from The Peabody Institute.

Anton Dudley’s plays and musicals have premiered Off-Broadway with Playwrights Realm, Second Stage, Cherry Lane Theater, and Theater Row, and, regionally, at Signature Theater (directed by Eric Shaeffer), LaJolla Playhouse (directed by Christopher Ashley), Walnut Street Theater, Williamstown Theater Festival, Adirondack Theater Festival, and EST, and are published by Samuel French, Playscripts, Applause, and Vintage. His play Letter to the End of the World was finalist for the 2012 Lambda Literary Award in LGBT Drama. He is currently under commission from Musical Stage Company and collaborating with Faye Chiao on the OPERA America funded Island of the Moon.

 

Time to introduce to you to the third of 9 writing teams in the 2017 Musical Theater Lab!  Each team will be presenting a new mini-musical in culminating lab concert performance, World Views, on July 8th (link here for details!).  These writers were selected through a competitive application process, and in these brief Q&As you’ll get some behind the scenes insight into their process and work.  Our next profile is the writing team Brandon Michael Lowden and Alexander Sage Oyen.

This year’s lab assignment was to create a musical inspired by a work of visual art found in an NYC museum.

Vestie Davis

Artwork: Beach with Litter Baskets by Vestie Davis

Title of your Mini-Musical: TRASH BEACH

1.  Were you familiar your with painting / artist prior to the lab process and if so what were your impressions?

Prior to this if you’d said the name “Vestie Davis” to us, we’d have guessed that was a character from a Damon Runyon story.  Our first impression of this piece was that it does not mess around. The painting’s title is Beach with Litter Baskets, and my god, does it deliver on that promise.


2.  What drew you to the painting?  Were your impulses more abstract, or did the image evoke any specific personal experiences or responses for your team?

I think we really responded to two key aesthetic elements of the piece, best described as (a) the beach and (b) trash. There was a strong impulse to embrace that duality; it suggested to us a world that is equal parts trash and beach (hence “TRASH BEACH,” which became both our setting and our title).  The next logical step was to explore what kind of characters would inhabit that world; for Brandon, it was very easy to imagine a character who loves trash beach even though it is clearly awful, as he is aware that millions of real-life people love normal beaches even though he finds them all equally terrible independent of their particular level of trash.

3. How was the lab writing process for your group? Was it different or similar to experiences you’ve had before?

This collaboration was a bit different from others each of us has had in terms of the division of roles, so in many ways it was a new process.

[ASO]: Typically I write both music and lyrics in my collaborations, but I’m a fan of Brandon’s lyrics and the ideas they spark for me when setting them to music, so I was happy to let him take the lead. Plus, I have a lot of difficulty spelling the word “baech,” which we knew was going to be all over the lyrics given that it was in our title — it just made sense to let someone else handle that. Once it was time for me to add music, we agreed I had the freedom to use my judgment in tweaking, trimming, and expanding the lyrics as necessary to shape the song. I don’t think Brandon normally gives his collaborators rein to do that, so it was pretty cool, even though he eventually cut the three new verses I wrote about how the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds is better than the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper.

[BML]: After we had talked over the general arc of our piece, I went off and pretty much blasted through the whole libretto start to finish; I have the easiest time writing like that, so I was glad Alex let me take the driver’s seat lyrically. And when it was time to add music, I gave him a lot of leeway in editing lyrics because I knew his ideas would really break things open. For example, the opening number had been kind of small and unstructured, but he added in this big sexy chorus and I now can’t imagine it without that. Of course, I did have to go through and correct all the times he misspelled “beach.” I was willing to let the Pet Sounds thing stand even though I’m a Beatles man all the way, but those verses were so riddled with mutant spellings like “bache” and “behach” that I just ended up having to cut the whole section.


4.  How does your piece in the lab relate to the rest of your body of work?  Is it a new direction or collaboration, or a continuation / deepening of styles or themes you have explored previously?

This is a new-ish collaboration and TRASH BEACH is the longest piece we’ve written together, so that was a fun and exciting step. In addition, this is a deeper exploration of the themes of trash and beach than either of us has previously undertaken.

[BRANDON]: In terms of my larger oeuvre, this piece was a real departure for me, as it does not contain any robots or athletic competitions.  I am sure that there are in fact robots involved in the processes behind TRASH BEACH, and athletic competitions held in celebration of it, but none of these receive stage time.  It feels weird to leave robots and athletic competitions out of this one, but to keep things from getting too crazy I stuck to my usual habit of choosing a young female protagonist, something I do because ever since that time I accidentally watched The Big Lebowski, I find all male characters excruciatingly boring.  TRASH BEACH certainly contains a good bit of the “slice of life with a gleefully weird twist” aesthetic that I hope people consider a hallmark of mine.

[ALEX]: Musically, I just want to give the cats in the audience a hot single to bounce to, as always.  But one thing in particular with this piece is that Brandon doesn’t know about jazz chords; when he writes the lyrics, he never once thinks “I know what jazz is, and I think it could happen during this song.”  He literally never thinks that.  But here’s the thing: I know all the jazz chords, and I sprinkled them all over TRASH BEACH.  When Brandon found out about that, he screamed, “What is this strange device called jazz?” and then did lunge jumps until his muscles were sore.  That’s the beauty of collaboration; it can yield such delightfully surprising results.

5.  Which of the other lab musicals are you most curious to see and why?

We are best friends with everyone in lab and want to see all of their pieces equally, but one that stuck out to us from the group meetings was Zoe and Emily’s; if we recall correctly, there’s a full-cast chorus and maybe found percussion? And the description sounded like something that might be in a hip dystopian YA series currently taking your local middle school by storm (this is a huge compliment, if that’s not clear).

Brandon Michael Lowden is a bookwriter, composer, and lyricist whose work deals with contemporary themes like self-loathing and love gone bad as well as more traditional musical theater subjects like women’s sports and Artificial Intelligence. You may have seen his work at Joe’s Pub, 54 Below, NY Theatre Barn, the Laurie Beechman, The Duplex, and Musical Theatre Factory, where he is a member of the writers group. He holds an MFA from the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and a BS in Electrical Engineering from Princeton University. www.bookmusiclyrics.com

Alexander Sage Oyen is the recipient of the 2014 ASCAP Foundation’s Lucille and Jack Yellen award for lyricists and the Lotos Foundation Prize in Arts and Sciences for his lyrics. He was awarded the 2013-2014 Dramatist Guild Fellowship and their musical, Outlaws, was the recipient of the 2014 ASCAP Workshop. Additionally, he was a 2017 Jonathan Larson Grant Finalist. His music has been heard at Lincoln Center, Goodspeed Opera House, Symphony Space, 54 Below, Joe’s Pub, Playwrights Horizons, The Signature Theatre, New World Stages, and venues in Thailand, London, The Netherlands and all across the world. Proud member of ASCAP and The Dramatists Guild.

Introducing the second of 9 writing teams in the 2017 Musical Theater Lab!  Each team will be presenting a new mini-musical in culminating lab concert performance, World Views, on July 8th (link here for details!).  These writers were selected through a competitive application process, and in these brief Q&As you’ll get some behind the scenes insight into their process and work.  Our next profile is the writing team of Sarah Rebell and Teresa Lotz.

This year’s lab assignment was to create a musical inspired by a work of visual art found in an NYC museum.

Chagall

Artwork: Paris through the Window by Marc Chagall

Title of your Mini-Musical: “A Surrealist Sort of View”

1. Were you familiar your with painting / artist prior to the lab process and if so what were your impressions?

Sarah: I was familiar with the artist but not at all with the painting. I think of Chagall’s work more as representing Eastern Europe (angels, stained glass, shetls) than as representing Paris. So it was really cool to see how this particular painting is, in many ways, an amalgam of the two cultures.

Teresa: I was vaguely familiar with both but not familiar enough with either. I’m more intimately familiar with surrealism since I did a lot of research on it for one of my plays and I’m a huge Dali fan. I knew Chagall’s work through that lens and was excited to dig into the symbolism..

2. What drew you to the painting? Were your impulses more abstract, or did the image evoke any specific personal experiences or responses for your team?

Teresa: I was drawn to the rainbow and the cat sitting on the window sill. I really wanted to write a show about that cat… thus why our protagonist is named Catherine. She’s not a cat. But it counts.

Sarah: Catherine is sitting on the windowledge at the top of the show, looking out at the world around her, much like the cat is in the painting. She is our surrealist symbol of the cat, which was in itself a surrealist symbol for Chagall. He loved animals. He loved putting them in his paintings, often in places they didn’t belong and/or sometimes with human faces.
Honestly, I was drawn to the colors and composition of the piece more than to any one specific detail at first. But the more we’ve studied the painting, the more we’ve analyzed its metaphors and read up on the life of its artist (and his incredible wife), the more in love I fell with all the elements of the painting.

3. How was the lab writing process for your group? Was it different or similar to experiences you’ve had before?

Teresa: It’s been easier than past processes, and that’s funny considering that it’s the first time we’ve been working together against such tight deadlines. We are also exploring a new style that is actually more in line with what I usually gravitate towards. It’s been really refreshing to work with Sarah on this.

Sarah: One of the first things that was conveyed to us by Prospect Theater Company, in the very first lab meet and greet, was that they hoped this would be a joyfully creative experience, a time for trying new things in our writing and a chance to play in a way that writers often don’t get to do much after grad school. Teresa and I talked a lot about that goal, of having fun, letting ourselves be playful and blissful in the process, because that ultimately is what leads to taking risks and coming up with work that genuinely excites us. This has been one of the most enjoyable writing processes I’ve ever been fortunate enough to experience, in large part because Prospect gave us that freedom and encouragement right from the start.

4. How does your piece in the lab relate to the rest of your body of work? Is it a new direction or collaboration, or a continuation / deepening of styles or themes you have explored previously?

Teresa: We tend to write about unsatisfied women and how they choose to move on from that. We also tend to write a lot about unhappy marriages (which is curious and slightly(?) disturbing to me as a recent newlywed!) Though our show relates to both of those things, I really do feel like it’s something new altogether which is exciting for me, musically and collaboratively.

Sarah: Teresa and I had a conversation back in November, shortly after the devastating presidential election, about prioritizing certain themes in our writing. Female protagonists are a really important component of that. In a world in which men are consistently telling women that they are less important (on the campaign trail, on the senate floor, in terms of healthcare reform, etc.), it is crucial to us that women’s stories are examined, celebrated and TOLD. I’ve also been thinking a lot about what it means to have a homeland vs. to be an immigrant vs. to be a refugee. That’s a new theme that we have explored for the first time in this piece.

5. Which of the other lab musicals are you most curious to see and why?

Teresa: Trash Beach. Because I really appreciate the title, and because I can’t wait to go the beach. Also, the one about aliens because I believe they might actually exist and I believe there should be more musicals about them. I’m also really excited in general to see new work by writers I know and respect as artists.

Sarah: Same. I’m really truly so excited to see ALL these pieces come to life. The other writing teams are all so incredible, and it’s an honor to be included among them in this lab. That said, if I had to pick one piece, I’m really intrigued by Zoe and Emily’s interpretation of the beautiful Turner shipwreck painting. I can’t wait to hear the sounds and harmonies that Zoe creates for her humongous choir. It’s going to be epic!

Teresa Lotz’s work includes Red Emma and the Mad Monk with Alexis Roblan (Ars Nova AntFest 2017, dir. Katie Lindsay) ThreeTimesFast with Naomi Matlow (Pallas Theater TableRead Winner 2017, The Script at Stage 74, dir. Michael Bello, NYFA, dir. Robert Longbottom, 2016),The Awakening with Sarah Rebell (Reading, MTF at Playwright’s Horizons 2016 dir. Celine Rosenthal), She Calls Me Firefly (Workshop, Parity Productions/New Perspectives Theatre Company (NPTC), dir. Ludovica Villar-Hauser 2015, Reading, Cherry Lane Theatre TONGUES 2014). NPTC’s Women’s Work Lab, Dramatist’s Guild, ASCAP, League of Professional Theatre Women. Musical Theater Writing, MFA NYU. teresalotz.com

Sarah Rebell’s musicals include Off The Wall (music by Danny Abosch), The Awakening (music by Teresa Lotz), and Rose Petals (music by Lizzie Hagstedt). Workshops/Readings: Playwrights Horizons, Musical Theatre Factory, Stages Festival of New Musicals, Fingerlakes Musical Theatre Festival, NYMF, NYU, and Vassar College. Sarah’s work has also been performed at 54 Below, the Berkshire Playwrights Musical Theatre Lab, the Catalina Jazz Club, the D-Lounge, The Duplex, the Laurie Beechman Theatre, and the Metropolitan Room. As a theatrical journalist, she has written for The Interval and Howlround. Sarah currently works for The Dramatists Guild of America and for The Lilly Awards. MFA: NYU Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.

Over the upcoming 10 days, we’re thrilled to introduce to you the 9 writing teams in the 2017 Musical Theater Lab!  Each team will be presenting a new mini-musical in culminating lab concert performance, World Views, on July 8th (link here for details!).  These writers were selected through a competitive application process, and in these brief Q&As you’ll get some behind the scenes insight into their process and work.  Our first profile is the writing team of Seth Christenfeld & James Ballard.

The theme of the lab was to create a musical inspired by artwork found throughout multiple New York City museums.

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Artwork: Patio with Cloud by Georgia O’Keeffe

Title of your Mini-Musical: “A Door”

1. Were you familiar your with painting / artist prior to the lab process and if so what were your impressions?
JB: I was relatively familiar with the work Georgia O’Keeffe before this project. I can’t say that I ever necessarily thought about her work as potential source material for a musical, but I always found it intriguing, especially considering that a good portion my family comes from the American southwest.
SC: Enough of a familiarity that I was surprised to see an O’Keeffe that contained neither a cow’s skull nor a suspiciously vaginal flower.

2. What drew you to the painting? Were your impulses more abstract, or did the image evoke any specific personal experiences or responses for your team?
SC: Looking at this painting, an entire story came to me almost instantly: the weird shadow-thingy was a door, and there were two people, and one would want to walk through and the other wouldn’t.
B: I kept coming back to this painting, even though I didn’t initially have any specific ideas, so when Seth pitched his idea I was happy to jump on board.

3. How was the lab writing process for your group? Was it different or similar to experiences you’ve had before?
JB: I would say the writing process so far has been similar to how we’ve written before. After hashing out an idea and getting a sense of what the overall arc of the piece was, we discussed which ideas would be best approached with text first, and which would be best approached with music first. We then went off to our respective Writer Hermit Caves to spin out some material, and once we had enough to work with we started meeting up again to make it into some kind of a cohesive thing. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have – our musical.
SC: And by “writer hermit caves,” he means our apartments. We kicked things off by outlining the piece in a miniature version of a three-act structure, wrote most of “Act I” pretty quickly, and then seesawed back and forth for the rest. The conversational recit stuff was mostly words first; the more formal material was music first, based on dialogue I sketched in the outline.

4. How does your piece in the lab relate to the rest of your body of work? Is it a new direction or collaboration, or a continuation / deepening of styles or themes you have explored previously?
JB: I think this is a new and different kind of a piece for us, which is pretty exciting. Musically, it ventures into a more harmonically complex and technically challenging place than we’ve been before as a writing team. While it’s not an opera, it has this sort of heightened, otherworldly aura about it that doesn’t quite fit into the traditional “musical theatre” milieu.
SC: As a team, this is definitely different for us, both formally and tonally–much of what we’ve written has been strongly formal and highly comedic. However, I think we’re both drawing on themes and styles we’ve used in work with other collaborators.

5. Which of the other lab musicals are you most curious to see and why?
JB: If you’re looking for fun and excitement this experimental theatre season, look no further. New York’s hottest 10-minute musical is “Trash Beach”. This show has everything: Garbage bins, old people, a chorus of anthropomorphic sea creatures, a notated score maybe, and New Jersey; it’s that state where New York puts all of the gross stuff that it doesn’t want, like Chris Christie.
SC: Answering this question incorrectly–or at all–seems like an excellent way to make enemies. But I’d be lying if I weren’t to say that I, too, am terribly excited for “Trash Beach.” Which isn’t to say that I’m looking any less forward to seeing everything else–I’m at least mildly familiar with everyone else’s work, and this is a stacked deck of talented people.

James Ballard is a composer, lyricist, and writer whose varied works include compositions for choir, concert band, orchestra, chamber/pop/rock/jazz ensembles, and musical theatre. He is the composer of the full-length musical The Oxford Epidemic and the one-act musical The Jerk Next Door, both co-written with lyricist and bookwriter Seth Christenfeld. His work has been performed at many venues across the country including The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., Rockwell Table & Stage in Los Angeles, and Joe’s Pub, Feinstein’s/54 Below, and the Laurie Beechman Theatre in New York City.

Seth Christenfeld is a lyricist, librettist, and dramaturg. With James Ballard, he has written the full-length musical The Oxford Epidemic and the one-act musical The Jerk Next Door, as well as various other things. Other musicals: Wait Forever (music by Sean Havrilla) and The Bad Ideas of Jack Andrews (music by Joseph Trefler; Finalist, 2014 Davenport Ten-Minute Play Festival). MFA in Musical Theatre Writing, NYU; BA in Drama Studies, SUNY Purchase. Raised in the lawless wilds of Westchester County, Seth now lives in Manhattan, where he spends his days as the Literary Coordinator at the York Theatre Company. www.sethdoesthings.com

Up Next: Honor

August 11, 2016

I’m sure you’ve heard of Shakespeare’s classic comedy As You Like It, but have you heard of Peter Mills’ and Cara Reichel’s Honor? The musical, presented as a concert this September at the TimesCenter in partnership with the National Asian Artists Project, sets the 17th Century play in feudal Japan.

In case you are not familiar with the plot of As You Like It, here is a quick summary (taken from http://www.nosweatshakespeare.com):

“Orlando, the youngest son of Sir Roland de Boys, is ill treated by his brother Oliver. When he responds to the general challenge issued by the Duke’s wrestler, Charles, Oliver tells Charles to injure Orlando if he can manage it. The Duke’s daughter, Celia, and her cousin, Rosalind, watch the match and Rosalind falls in love with Orlando. Orlando wins but the Duke gets angry when he discovers that Orlando is the son of his old enemy, Sir Roland de Boys. Rosalind gives Orlando a chain to wear and he falls in love with her.

The Duke unexpectedly banishes Rosalind and she decides to find her father, the real Duke, who has been overthrown by his brother, Celia’s father, Frederick. Duke Senior lives in the forest of Arden. Together with the court jester, Touchstone, the girls set out, disguised as a country boy, Ganymede, and his sister, Aliena. Co-incidentally, Orlando, fearing for his life, has also left home, accompanied by his father’s servant, Adam.

In the forest, the group from the court encounter a young shepherd, Silvius, and watch him being rejected by a shepherdess, Phoebe, as he declares his love for her. They meet an old shepherd, Corin, who is looking for someone to take over the sheep farm. Ganymede, who wants to settle in the forest, buys the lease.

Duke Senior, unaware that his daughter is looking for him, is living a simple life with some courtiers and huntsmen. One of them is the melancholy Jaques, who reflects constantly on life. Orlando and Adam arrive and the outlaws welcome them and feed them.

Orlando hangs some love poems that he has written to Rosalind from the branches of trees. Rosalind and Aliena find them. Ganymede helps him to cure his lovesickness by wooing him, Ganymede, as though he/she were Rosalind. A country girl, Audrey, falls in love with Touchstone and abandons her faithful William because of her love for the fool.

Oliver is searching for his brother. He has an accident and Orlando saves his life. Orlando is slightly injured and when he tells Ganymede about it she faints. Oliver and Celia fall in love. Phoebe falls in love with Genymede. It all becomes very complicated. Hymen leads a masque; Rosalind re-emerges as a woman and her father gives her to Orlando; Phoebe accepts Silvius; Orlando’s older brother returns from university with the news that Celia’s father, Frederick, has retired as Duke to become a hermit; Jaques goes to join him. There is a joyful dance to celebrate the four marriages and the happy ending.”

As all Shakespeare tends to be, As You Like It has enough drama to transcend time and place. Add a few musical numbers, and the characters only become more interesting!

Honor was first produced in 2008 as a full musical production, and this concert will bring back several of the original cast members along with a full choir to illuminate the music.

Stay tuned over the next few weeks for information on the NAAP, the history of Honor, interviews with the cast and creative team, and more!

Archetype opens tonight! In celebration (and anticipation), here are some photos from this great show! I was lucky enough to observe a rehearsal yesterday, and we are definitely in for a treat with this show! It’s a ton of fun, and just a little glimpse into the huge amount of talent we have in this city. Enjoy the photos!

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Lighting really has a way of giving life to an empty stage!

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Is it an execution? Is she asleep? What could be happening?

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(see above for the same question)

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Construction workers or food?

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You’re never fully dressed without a smile! (and a cute little purse!)

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A party onstage? Whaaaaat??

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What a fierce group of party people!

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What’s he thinking about?

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So much love!

More Archetype!

July 26, 2016

To round out the Archetype hype, I’ve also interviewed some of the wonderful actors in the production! These guys are tasked with learning multiple roles in only a few weeks, and are ready to knock your socks off this week at the show!

First up, Chandler Reeves!
Chandler

-Who do you play in Archetype?

I play a stick of butter in “Good Butter” and the ‘right hand vamp’ to the president of a vampire sorority in “The Pledge.” 

-What is your favorite part of the show?

I am so in love with the last number from “Little Bird.” It’s an uplifting gospel number about the power of acceptance. I swear, I get misty every time we go through it! 

-What was your favorite moment from rehearsal?

I know this may sound general and cheesy, but I honestly don’t know if I have one! Everyday is an adventure with these people. It’s almost as if Prospect accumulated all of the nicest and funniest people they knew and asked them to do this thing! We have such a good time in the room together. 

-What’s your dream role?

This is a tough one! I have a mad obsession with Sunday In The Park With George, so playing Dot someday would be incredible! 

-What is your favorite archetype? If you could play any archetype in a play, which would it be?

Some of us sat around in rehearsal one day and took a Jungian archetype quiz. I got The Caregiver — which is scarily accurate. That’s who I have always been, and I am so unashamed! So, while I am The Caregiver in real life, I feel like playing The Magician would be the most interesting! As The Magician, it would be fun to come up with different solutions and make some magic happen. I feel like their wheels are always spinning, which is always exciting to play with! 

-What’s the hardest thing about being in multiple musicals at once?

Believe it or not, memorization isn’t the issue here— it’s clarifying the different stories and making the archetypes we are representing clear for the audience. Each one of us is assigned a specific archetype. It’s out job to justify the actions of our characters by using these archetypal traits  as a sort of guideline for our arcs within the story we’re telling. Since we don’t come right out and say “Hi, I’m Chandler and I will be playing The Lover,” it’s important to make our choices very clear.  

-What do you want audiences to take away from this production?
I think the whole idea of these Jungian archetypes is really fascinating. I want the audience to leave our show learning a little something about themselves. I want them to look at these different characters and be able to identify their own archetypes. Understanding our own archetype helps us understand why we do and react to certain things the way we do. To be able to teach an audience about that is really exciting.

Next up, Austin Ku!

Austin

-Who do you play in Archetype?

I play a hairdresser named Kelley that is one of the central characters in one of the six pieces, as well as other smaller roles in some of the other pieces.

-What is your favorite part of the show?

I can’t tell you without giving too much away!

-What’s your dream role?

Ali Stoker had a great response to that same question in this month’s Diversity-themed issue of Equity News, which is something like: A new role on Broadway. As much as I have enjoyed many of the roles I’ve played in the traditional theater canon, none of them have that closely reflected my own personal experience (primarily for me in terms of being a contemporary, three-dimensional Asian American). It would be thrilling to get to bring to Broadway (or TV or film) a major part that I myself have helped create and that has been tailored over the development process to my unique strengths and personality, and will forever be associated in some way with me.

-What is your favorite archetype? If you could play any archetype in a play, which would it be?
Well I took an archetype quiz online, and it said I was The Hero, which is kind of ironic because in my piece Kelley is The Hero, even though it’s not apparent at first. Hopefully I didn’t just give too much away.
-What’s the hardest thing about being in multiple musicals at once?

It’s actually really fun! Right now each of us is a lead in one of the six scenes, and then supporting and ensemble in a couple of others. It’s not like we’re all on stage, all the time. I actually think it would be even more fun if all of us were in all of them, like a little ensemble company doing variations on a theme. I would like that challenge.

-What do you want audiences to take away from this production?
That there are talented writers out there, established and undiscovered alike, who write great, new material about contemporary, DIVERSE subject matter; and that there are talented, DIVERSE actors who want to and can perform that DIVERSE material! …And I’m not using DIVERSE as code for “ethnic”–I truly mean DIVERSE its correct definition, meaning SHOWING GREAT VARIETY.
And now, Hana Slevin!

Hana

-Who do you play in Archetype?

The Magician

-What is your favorite part of the show?

Getting to play 4 completely different characters. I can’t pick a favorite! But playing beer pong as an initiation rite in a vampire sorority is pretty great. 😉

-What was your favorite moment from rehearsal?

Seeing the other pieces I’m not in for the first time in our first stumble-through.

-What’s your dream role?
To get in a time machine and be on Gilmore Girls.
-What is your favorite archetype? If you could play any archetype in a play, which would it be?
The Explorer
-What’s the hardest thing about being in multiple musicals at once?

Perhaps keeping lines/music/blocking straight in my head and switching gears so quickly. But I like the challenge. It keeps things fresh and exciting. 🙂

-What do you want audiences to take away from this production?
“I remember who I am.”
Last but not least, Sherz Aletaha!

Sherz

-Who do you play in Archetype?

I play Gail, the rebel, in “A Guy And A Girl”

-What is your favorite part of the show?

We all close the show together in one of the pieces and the song is so gorgeous and sweet. 

-What was your favorite moment from rehearsal?

The day we all finally got to watch each other’s pieces! Also, the day Chandler Reeves and I hugged each other like robots during “Little Bird” because we were overcome with awkwardness.

-What’s your dream role?
Fanny Brice in Funny Girl
-What is your favorite archetype? If you could play any archetype in a play, which would it be?
The Ruler, obviously! Who doesn’t want to be the boss?
-What’s the hardest thing about being in multiple musicals at once?

Well, I go from being a normal girl who’s breaking up with her boyfriend to a vampire in literally 15 seconds so that’s kind of weird and fun!

-What do you want audiences to take away from this production?
How versatile musicals can be. We have so many different styles and themes. It’s really cool to see the variety in one show.
Are you intrigued yet??? I most definitely am! Don’t miss Archetype this week!

Show Week!

July 26, 2016

Archetype runs this week, so amidst rehearsals and the general craziness of everyday life, I was able to learn more about the show and the Musical  Theater Lab in general from the director and co-curator herself, Dev Bondarin!

Dev got involved with Prospect in 2005 as a part of her graduate school studies. Meanwhile, the Musical Theater Lab began in 2008 with Museum Pieces, a production comprised of eight short musicals that were each based upon a work of art. Prospect encourages collaboration and supports emerging artists, and the Lab does just this. As Dev recalls, “The event got such a wonderful response from audiences and participants that Prospect decided to bring it back again and again…and again.”

As for her initial involvement, she asked Cara (that’s Cara Reichel, the Producing Artistic Director of Prospect in case you didn’t know) if she could direct one of the eight Museum Pieces, and Cara agreed. By the time the Lab came back the next year, Dev was ready to take on the entire project, and she has been directing it herself ever since!

Since 2008, Dev notes some changes in how the Lab is run: “Cara and I have continued to hone the ideas of the assignments and also how we engage with the writers and facilitate the writers connecting with one another. It’s really important that the writers are connected from the start and don’t just meet at the dress rehearsal.” This mentality has cultivated a rewarding program that artists really enjoy.

So how does Archetype factor in?
The theme of each year’s Lab comes from a variety of things ranging from the time of year to any constraints based upon the venue. Each year, they “look to come up with something that is open ended enough so that writers can make their mark but also clear enough that the pieces will be connected.” Archetype was picked because of the characters’ multi-faceted natures; Dev and Cara were interested in doing a character-driven production rather than a visual-based production, and “archetypal characters are present onstage almost all the time.”
In terms of how the writers get picked, it’s generally an application process – although sometimes they reach out to writers they are interested in working with. Writing teams usually apply together (“unless of course they are what we refer to as a “team of one” which is someone who writes book, music, and lyrics”).
 Dev suggests definitely applying to the lab to meet people and share your work if you are pursuing a career in musical theatre writing! She also suggests checking out programs like those at NYU and BMI. As for her favorite part of the lab, she has a bunch! “I love the first rehearsal where everyone comes together for the first time and hears about all of the pieces. I also love the moments right before that rehearsal when I am the one person who knows what all the shows are about. Sharing the evening with an audience is also particularly special as viewers always have different moments and shows that they like the best.”
I hope you come join us this week for Archetype and experience the show as your own!

Broadway For All

July 18, 2016

One of the wonderful cast members of Scheherazade, Osh Ghanimah, is part of the NYC-based organization Broadway For All, and the group brought some students to see the show on Sunday!

Broadway For All.jpg
Some Broadway For All students and Scheherazade cast members after the show!

Broadway For All was established in 2012, and today the program is a not-for-profit that offers tuition-free, world-class conservatory training to middle and high school students from across the country. The organization was created to provide young artists the opportunity to practice and enhance their talents, regardless of their ethnic or economic backgrounds. Their tuition-free program offers participants the opportunity to fine-tune their skills in acting, writing, and music with Broadway professionals.

Their mission is “to transform the American stage and screen to reflect the diversity of America. We train young artists from all income levels and all ethnic backgrounds in a world-class conservatory—led by professionals from the Broadway, television, and film industries—in order to shape a new generation of artists, leaders, and advocates who are impassioned to create inclusive work FOR ALL.”

The students stayed for a talk-back after the performance on Sunday, and had some insightful and well-developed thoughts on the production. We are thrilled that programs like this exist that challenge young people to think critically about theatre!

To learn more about Broadway For All, visit their website or their Facebook page!

Coming soon: responses from the students about Scheherazade!

Source: https://www.facebook.com/Broadway-For-All-124226954386130/