What One Can Learn From One's Own Mess. By Gregory Jacobs-Roseman (Composer-Lyricist)
It had finally reached a head.
I live a life of binging and purging. I have periods of productivity followed by periods of stasis. I gain some weight and then work it all off. I gather clutter for months (years) and then spend a day cleaning, separating the garbage I no longer need from the items I forgot I still had.
I came home this week with someone I was trying to impress and upon glimpsing at my bedroom I realized with horror that I had let my packrat tendencies go way too far.
My desk pre "de-cluttering." Yeah, I got very little work done.
I think it took me finally updating my recoding studio (which lives in my bedroom) and the subsequent relocation of many stacks of paper and electrical equipment to realize that I’d let the clutter in my bedroom reach critical mass. Maybe it was the fact that I was embarrassed in front of my date that I lived such an untidy life. Either way, it was time for the cutter to go.
How I conquered the beast. By Geoffrey Kidwell (actor)
Of all the letters in the alphabet, none had the fear-inducing effect of "P" and "E."
In my younger days, I preferred to spend my time doing things that did not require me to grunt, jump, throw or sweat.
But twice a week, every week, at Our Lady of Guadalupe Elementary School in Hermosa Beach, California, I stared down the monster known as...
Yes. That's right. Physical Education Class - the words that, for years, have struck fear into the hearts of many a gay - like "cargo shorts" or "swimsuits required."
There was something about P.E. that made me want to jump out of my skin. The idea of having to catch or, worse yet, throw a football seemed nearly impossible.
On a deeper level, I just didn't know how to be a boy - at least in the way with which the other boys seemed so at ease. It's not that they were more male or more masculine (whatever that means) than I was. Rather, they connected with an idea of childhood masculinity that was basically performance - grunting, cursing, high-fiving, etc. The trouble was that I could not figure out how to play the part like the other boys.
As I grew up, this notion that I was less of a boy because I wasn't athletic stuck with me, making high school P.E. class a complete nightmare.
For years, I told myself the same story - I was uncoordinate, unathletic and ultimately less masculine.
As it turns out, video games are pretty damn cool. By S. Dylan Zwickel (Lyricist/Librettist.)
I would not consider myself a video game expert. In fact, I don't think I've played a video game since Super Mario Bros. on my dad's old grey console, the one before Nintendo 64. I did love that game as a kid, but to be honest, I've never really gotten the appeal of video games in general. So when my roommate said he was going to play a game called "Assassin's Creed" (not to be confused with the musical Assassins), I was a bit skeptical. I figured it would be some simple thing where he had to jump out from behind walls and shoot people, like that stupid hunting game that Frank Underwood plays on House of Cards... boring.
(The video game console I grew up with.)
Man, was I wrong. I'm not sure when video games got so complex, but while I was busy rolling my eyes at those kids who waited in line for X Boxes the way I waited for Harry Potter books, some genius out there was coming up with one of the more detailed, interesting narratives I've heard in a while.
Teachable moments that involve "And I Am Telling You" By Erica Slutsky (Writer/Singer/Songwriter)
I'm not very big on reality television. I can't tell any of the "Real Housewives" apart and, when I was in high school, I avoidedanything involving the Bunim-Murray production shingle like I avoided the boy bands, British mega-musicals, and anyone who thought feminism was dead.
And yet, I watched seasons five and six of "The Voice” (Season 7 premieres September 22!) hoping to someday write some great humor piece about my unironic love of the show and my Kurtz-like descent into madness once I became way too attached to the outcome. In a weird, Diablo Codyesque way, I felt like this was going to be my ticket to A-List Comedy Writer World. A magical world where Judd Apatow invites me to attend his meditation classes, Maya Rudolph sings karaoke with me, and Reggie Watts gives me bear hugs. I wasn’t productive.
But I did learn some valuable lessons that could readily be applied to the industry of your choice.
Continuing to delve into Drew Gasparini’s deep fondness for pop music, puzzles and magical subways. By Michael Ruby (Writer)
In a race against the clock, Drew Gasparini tore through my standard miraculous list of questions for musical theater writers. We pick up where we left off last week (Read Volume 1 here), changing subjects from what used to interest Drew to what interests him now.
How do you pick your projects? It depends on a lot. For a studio, I’m not nearly as picky. I try to pick something that speaks to me, but there’s less pressure on my own brain [because it’s a job]. Nowadays, I’m collaborating mostly with Alex Brightman.
Great guy. He was in my Love, NY concert at New World Stages ages ago. He absolutely killed it. He kills everything he does. He’s one of my best friends in New York. We wrote Make Me Bad as together kind of as a fluke – and now we have four projects cooking together. We’re very [much like South Park’s] Matt and Trey. Alex has an idea, and I ask is there music in that? And we go. Or I have an idea, and then he shows up the next day with an outline.
What’s your process together? Alex and I will sit in rooms just spit-balling for hours. If we make each other laugh, we’ll record our thoughts. We’re both really character driven; we think about who a show’s about first before what it’s about.
(Alex Brightman sings "Wrong Place, Wrong Time")
Alex is good at overwriting and I’m good at trimming it down and finding where the songs go. I hardly ever start writing anymore with an outline saying, “Here’s a song…and here’s a song,” because ultimately they’ll get cut or changed.
Within the past 10 years, we've seen the return of the Movie Musical franchise boom with demon barbers, sexy murderouses, and a lot of BIG hair. Now in 2014 I'm thrilled to see even more Musicals bust out on the big screen. This past year we've seen some Broadway HITS flop and smaller musicals succeed on the big screen. Jersey Boys for instance, what the hell went wrong. A $40 million budget and a box office gross of $59.2 million, compared to the Broadway production, this is despicable. The NYC production will soon hit its $500 million dollar by early 2015 making it one of the highest grossing musical entities to date.
We gotta give it up to Disney for giving us Frozen (which I have yet to see; cue the cane). We'll probably never hear the end of Idina Menzel's anthem song "Let It Go" for many years to come. I'm really hoping we will see a Broadway production within the next 2-4 years. In the meantime, go see the arena ice tour.
Some quick thoughts on upcoming Musical Movies:
The Last Five Years! COME ON!!!!! I've been waiting for this film since I was a young tiny 6th grader crying in my bedroom to Sherie Rene Scott's vibrato in "A Summer In Ohio" ("I finally got something RIIIGHHTTTT"; my favorite). February 14th can't come any sooner.
Annie- why? Why do we need movie? Will I see it, yes because it is my duty to report back to you.
Into The Woods - Disney, please don't mess this one up. You have one shot! We/Sondheim can't wait another 35 years for a film remake.
Lucky Stiff - The trailer for this comedy horror is too funny. All star cast including several Tony Award winners. Check out the trailer below and comment on this post to tell me what you think.
The hashtag wars of politics, and how the internet is reacting to the idea of an independent Scotland. By Rachel James (Treasurer/Writer)
I tend to be a fairly regular visitor to Twitter. And one thing I've been noticing the last weeks have been lots of talk about the vote in Scotland today. In case you were unaware, Scotland is voting today on whether they want to become an independent nation, or whether they will remain part of the United Kingdom. The hashtags #YesScotland and #BetterTogether having been popping up all over. Even Doctor Who weighed in! The polls show a dead heat, and a lot can change regardless of the outcome.
Since I've never been to Scotland and have only a passing knowledge of British politics, I am completely unqualified to tell anyone how to vote. But there is one thing that's been fascinating about this campaign that I'd love to discuss: viral videos. Here are a few of my faves, all about the #IndyRef.
John Oliver breaks it down on Last Week Tonight
First off, if you aren't watching Last Week Tonight, get on that. Second, if you have no idea what I've been talking about for the previous paragraphs, this will break it down for you. Like he says, both sides have good points; and both sides of dubious marketing. It will be interesting to see what happens.
Katie O'Connor does the dance of the unicorn
Katie O'Connor is hilarious. She's also a pal of mine from college, so I'm biased. But I do love her mixture of facts and silliness to let you know what they heck is going on and her opinion of the matter.
Groundskeeper Willie on Scottish Independence
Once The Simpsons chime in, drop the mic and back away. Nothing more to say.
This week, a member of the Circle Songbook embarks on an especially precarious collaboration – one with the writer he was five years ago. By Kevin Wanzor (of The Circle Songbook)
We all change, and we do it fast. That stoner boyfriend from college? He is a Tea Party Republican now. Your cute baby cousin? She is playing beer pong at this very moment. Each day we live helps chip away and shape us like the sculptures we are. The changes may seem slight, but after a week, a month or a year, we can look back and see how we have morphed.
As the Circle Songbook embarks to explore all aspects of the collaborative process, we discovered Circle composer Jonathon Lynch has been given a unique opportunity to revisit an older project. I met with Jonathon for a beer (over Skype) to discuss the process of dusting off older material and the process of navigating the peaks and valleys of working with an especially tricky collaborator: the writer he was five years ago.
KEVIN WANZOR: I know you are in the thick of rehearsals now. Can you tell me a little bit about your new project?
JONATHON LYNCH: The show is called Lunacy. It’s very loosely based on Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon. It’s about post-Civil War Yankee cannoneers who decide to launch a cannonball at the moon. The book and lyrics are by Matt Boresi, and the music is by me.
WANZOR: How did you get involved?
LYNCH: Well, several years back we were commissioned by a college’s community outreach program to create a musical for a large all-ages cast. They didn’t tell us to necessarily adapt this material, but when we found it, we knew it was something we really wanted to develop.
WANZOR: Why and how is it happening this time?
LYNCH: The Gallery Players is launching a new works series, called Overtures. We were ready to revisit the show, edit it, and put some new effort and energy into it. It was time to put it up again.
WANZOR: What have been your musical influences on the project?
LYNCH: The music is not time appropriate. We are calling the entire work a steam punk rock operetta. So, we think, what is steampunk? What’s a musical style for steampunk? And ultimately, we realized it would be primarily a rock score, but it would also include some classical influences as well. In that sense, for me, there’s something old with the classical music with something new with the rock approaches. Just like steampunk tries to include anachronistic elements in a very styled way.