A Paralyzed World and a Paralyzed Face

Well, this much is true: no one saw any of this coming.  Even back in April I don’t think any of us thought the world would still be such a mess.  I mean really, can you really believe I’m writing about this?  About a worldwide pandemic that has totally (yet hopefully temporarily) changed life as we know it?

And theatre!  Poor theatre!  You are one of the most hardest hit.  Without group gatherings you cannot exist.  I’m so sorry this is happening to you, to the actors, to the musicians and writers and directors and crew; to the shows that spent years and years in development only to have to close before getting a chance to run. The list of people affected is endless.

So how does this all affect me? Well, in terms of Brilliant, they actually postponed the festival until next August so in that sense I’m very lucky (originally they had postponed it to the same weekend of Alex’s Bat Mitzvah in February if you can believe it).  But have I even thought about the show or worked on it in the last few months?  The answer is no.  Covid has affected me in more ways than one.

On June 20th (I’ll remember the date clearly because it was the day before Avery’s 17th birthday and Father’s Day) I ended up in the hospital.  I was there for four days and was diagnosed with Ramsey Hunt Syndrome.  RHS is a complication you get from the Shingles Virus.   With RHS, you have inflammation of the 5th, 7th, and 8th nerve which causes amongst other things Face Paralysis on half your face and a loss of balance; a sort of constant vertigo amongst other things.  It also makes you struggle with executive functioning and memory.  Leave it to say I’m  physically and mentally a different person than I was a few months ago.

Because of all of this I just don’t know what I’m going to do about the show.  I really don’t.  It all seems very overwhelming to me now.  My days are slower and it’s difficult to concentrate on such a large project.  I haven’t even begun to try to work on it yet.  And with the world and things as they are it makes me even reevaluate if I WANT to continue working on it.  Do i want to expose my family, my son, in this way so publicly?  I don’t know.  If I really think it can help other people, than yes.  But I’m not yet sure if it’s worth it.

So that’s it for now.  It’s been a long, weird spring and summer.  Two seasons in quarantine.  School is supposed to start in a few weeks, but we will see what that looks like.  My son is virtual all day but one.  My daughter goes to one of the only schools that is actually returning live.  There’s so much that went on this summer and so little at the same time.  I guess family time was the one great positive of all of it.  Months straight of family dinners with all three kids, something I was surely thankful for.

So let’s try to end this on a positive note. Let’s send some hope out into my world.  Here’s to hoping the world can get back to normal in a years time.  Here’s to hoping my children can manage their way through this awful situation and get through school.  Here’s to hoping we have a new president before my next entry.  Here’s to hoping I don’t give up on Brilliant.  Here’s to hoping  Broadway will shine its lights once again.  And here’s to hoping when all of this happens, I’m smiling.

 

First festival (and the virus)

Honestly, It’s very weird to be writing a blog post right now.  After such a wonderful night back in February for our reading, I could have easily called it quits and I would have been very satisfied.  But of course as much as that felt like the culmination of years of hard work, it was only the beginning.

But let’s pause for a second, because life now isn’t what it was.  I haven’t written a journal entry or anything at home that talks about what life is like now- now that Covid 19 has invaded our world.  This is so much bigger than my show.  This is world changing.  Words can’t express how this has affected really anyone.  For me, my anxiety is at an all time high simply because there is no structure to our day anymore.  Everything is different.  Everything.  I hope and pray  (and I don’t pray) that  in a few years when I look back at this blog post it will all be a distant memory.  G-d, writing this feels like I am talking about a horror movie, but I’m not.

And here’s what’s weirder.   In the midst of all of this craziness, my show Brilliant was selected to participate in it’s first theatre festival in NYC – the Broadway Bound Theatre Festival.  This is something I have been waiting to happen for years and I should be thrilled.  I know I am happy, thrilled even, but right now it’s to hard to feel those emotions.  Right now the best I can do is go along with the process and not give up because honestly, it’s near impossible to focus on the show right now.

But here is one silver lining.  Sammi is home and she is helping me with the show.  She is more than helping- she is my new dramaturg and I am so lucky to have her work with me.  I am so proud of what she is capable of.  So together my daughter and I are continuing to develop the show.  She has suggested major changes but I do think they are for the best.  I truly do not believe the festival will go on as scheduled (4 months from now – mid August, 2020) but I have to keep working as if it might.  Personally, I would love a few month delay because of all the changes we are making.  And we have to produce the entire thing ourselves!  Another crazy headache.

So I am in a weird place.  You try being super productive when the entire world around you has fallen apart, it’s not easy.  But hey, I do love my new opening number, ‘A Family”.  that was written during the quarantine.  Let’s see if it stays.    So I will leave you now with the hopes that my next blog post will be much more optimistic about life in general and that the world will have begun to bounce back from the horrors of the past 6 weeks.

Wow! What a reading, what a night

So last night was our third staged reading.  It was held at a wonderful music venue in Wayne, 118 North.  We had a five piece band (Alfred jumped in on cello) and everyone was mic’d so this certainly was a big step up from our other readings.  More importantly, the extremely talented Megan O’Brien joined our team as our director and the adorably talented Zach Chiero has joined to play Jake.

We performed the show for about 120 close family and friends and special invited guests.  The reaction of the audience was incredibly positive.  I’ve actually spent all of today trying to respond to all of the emails and posts that have come my way.  Overall the feedback from special need parents was that I captured exactly what they experience every day and the feedback from typical parents was that this story is totally universal and they could relate to all of the emotions.  So overall it appears the show is appealing to vast audience.

I am waiting to receive the video and photos from last night but I have posted some of my own video clips on our Video page and below I am posting some fun pics from the rehearsal before the show.  I wish I knew what comes next, but I’m really not sure. I’m going to guess that some rewriting will need to happen as well as continued networking.  Im looking forward to meeting up with Megan and to discuss the future of Brilliant.

But there you have it.  I surpassed my goal of performing in my basement for friends.  I feel a sort of satisfaction that I have never felt before with this show.  I was so proud of everyone last night.  Each actor and musician was wonderful.  They certainly stepped up their game last night.  The future of this show now is incredibly unknown to me.  I can’t wait to read future posts to see what happens!

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Readings and More Readings

So I think this is where it starts to get fun.  Well, I  mean, this entire experience has been incredible but now I get to put it out there and share it with people. Four years of work finally out of the privacy of my basement.  I am so fortunate that some organizations have put their trust in me and have allowed me to perform readings for members of their group.

The first reading we had was a few weeks ago on December 4, 2019 which was hosted by Women’s Philanthropy, a division of Jewish Federation.   I knew this would be a wonderfully supportive audience, and they were.  I was really happy with the entire evening.  People laughed where I weren’t sure if they would.  And people were moved and felt connected to the material.  I know this is touchy subject matter.  I have to do right by it- and we are still tweaking and rewriting and trying to get there. I am trying to create a specific story but with universal themes so all parents can relate no matter who their child is.  I don’t want to alienate anyone.

Anyway, that first reading was great and we learned alot.  So much so that I have made many changes for the next reading coming up on January 12.  We have three new songs and removed two old ones.  We will only have time to rehearse a few hours before the show.  But this audience will be extremely special because they will be members of the Philly Friendship Circle, an organization that works with children with special needs.  I am so looking forward to presenting this material to them.  I hope they like it.

And one month later I will be hosting a reading at a very cool music venue in Wayne – 118 North.  I just think this is a great intimate venue but a good step up from my basement!  I have many friends coming to that show so I think it will be loads of fun!

Okay- that’s it for now.  Readings, readings, and more readings!  Things could be worse.

MusicoLab Concert

So last night we had the opportunity to once again perform at a musicolab salon.  These salons provide a great opportunity to get our songs up in front of an audience.  Last night we performed “Pose” and “My Vice!”.  I’m so glad I chose to do these songs because for the last two salons we performed emotional ballads.  I do love a good emotional ballad, but I was just feeling that we had to show our fun side!  We happened to be the last show to go so closing then night out with Vice! was great and I think very well received by the audience.

This salon couldn’t have come at a better time either because in just two days we will be performing our first staged reading.  Ahh!  About time right?  Wish us luck!

Feeling good with it

So it appears to be a very long time since I have posted.  Let us catch up.

In May I had a concert in my house (conveniently on my birthday so it was a bit of a double celebration) and it was the most amazing night.  It was really the first time I performed many of the songs in front of a large group- and people who are important to me.   It was such a special night for me (My daughter even flew in from college to surprise me).  Everyone’s reactions to the music seemed extremely genuine and I felt good knowing I was on the right track.

SO I had had some other performances scheduled for last Spring but something wasn’t sitting entirely right with with the book.  I postponed those performances and took this summer to make some changes.  This obviously required composing a few more songs as well which have yet to be recorded.  I have to say I am now feeling much better about the book.  It’s also running a nice 85 minutes which is perfect for a straight run through with no intermission.  But the point is, I am happy with it and at this point we have to just start getting it in front of people.

Fortunately, Woman’s Philanthropy, a division of Jewish Federation of Philadelphia, will be hosting a performance on December 4.  All our welcome.  And on January 12, the Friendship circle will be hosting an event as well.  I am soo excited about both of these events because I think they will be the perfect audiences for this show.  I am also going to look to plan a reading in NY for early Spring.

I am still working with Kim, Rebecca, and Jason Neri will be music directing.  The three of them are so committed and wonderful and I look forward to finding the perfect JAKE!  Oh- and playing the role of Adam I have Jackson Preisser who is amazingly adorable (an my daughter’s best friend).

Below I will try to add videos from the concert.   Hope for more updates sooner than later.

 

 

Directors, Performances, Festivals, Oh My!

September 26, 2018

Okay.  so that title is a little premature, I know.  But I haven’t written in a while and I wanted to chime in.  I just re read my blog posts from the last 18 months.  18 months!  and I didn’t even start these blogs until I had already been working on the show for around a year and a half.  Well, here’s good news:  SOAR is back.  I always really liked that song.  I was sad to see it go and now very happy that it has found a home again.  We’ve really tried to have the story focus on the “Jake and Sarah” relationship  and that is really what that song embodied, so there you have it.  Kim will actually be performing “SOAR” on November 4 at the next musical theatre salon in Philadelphia.  I hope people like it!

So- the title of the blog, what’s up with that?  Well, I am in the process of interviewing a few directors.  And why, you may ask, am I interviewing directors?  Because we are scheduling performances!  That’s right, you read it here first.  It’s looking like we will be having a few performances in early 2019.  However, it is still a bit premature to list them here because dates and locations need to be finalized.  But that means it is time to finalize a cast and a director so we can begin rehearsing and tweaking and working out the kinks.   I am very excited to bring in a director because the show is now going to start a journey that I cannot do alone with Philip anymore.  We will need a musical director, a musical arranger (but that’s further down the line), a choreographer, a dramaturg, and of course the director to get this thing on its feet.

These performances will be like showcases.  What this means is, they will not be fully produced although performers will be off book and some minor movement and maybe even minor sets will be involved.  We need to see how the show will play to an audience. I am reaching out to local organizations who I feel have members that would make a great audience for this subject matter.  These organizations are also showing amazing support to me and I will be forever grateful to them for allowing me this opportunity.  But no!  I cannot reveal them just yet!  I promise, the next blog should have that info.

Why did I mention Festivals?  Because we are ready to start applying. I just received my big, fat, resource book from the Dramatists Guild and I will soon begin the process of sending the book and recordings out to the numerous festivals for musical theatre.  So hopefully next summer, perhaps we may have a festival or two to perform at.

And coming soon… like any day…. a new and improved logo!  Thank you Samantha Dion Baker!

Thanks for reading.   Oh yeah, and did I mention, amongst this craziness, I just dropped my daughter off at college and next week my son goes to boarding school?  Just wanted to add that in so when I read this post in a few years I’ll remember what was happening in my real life.

Thanks for reading!  (and if you haven’t seen the clip of Kim performing at the concert over the summer, please see the blog below with the video clips.  She was fantastic!)

Our First Live Appearance – in Concert!

So on Sunday, July 15 we were invited to the home of Barbara Bellman where she and Seth Rozin hosted a “musical theatre salon”.  Six musicals that are presently be developed in Philadelphia were invited to showcase a song or two from their show.  We had Kimberly Suskind perform “Just Wanna Be” and “To Fill This Home With Love”.  My daughter’s friend, Cole Henry, filled in to sing for Adam.  They were both fabulous.  It really was an incredible experience to finally hear the songs performed live in front of an audience.  It is amazing how having an audience in the room totally changes the emotional energy.  We got some really nice feedback. It was a great night.

Click here to see video of “Just Wanna Be”

Click here to see video of “To Fill This home With Love”

 

Getting Closer!

So, here we are, a little over a year that I began working with Philip and I am happy to report we finally have a finished script!  We have scheduled our first reading for Monday, April 30.  It will be a very small, casual event which will simply allow us to actually hear what we have so far.  I am very excited to hear everything (and can I say I am happy to take a break from having to write any more songs for a bit.)  I never thought we would get through the final scene but I really love what Philip did with it.

So the plan is to continue to have some readings and then continue to make changes until we feel really secure with what we have.  Then we will have a much larger reading where all will  be invited!  My house has been quite a buzz with lots of fantastic Philly actors coming over to practice and record with me.  Here are some pics of Kim Suskind and Cindy Chait during their recent recording sessions.   I love being able to work with great actors/actresses who come to my house fully prepared,excited ,and willing to work on an unknown piece of material.  Thanks to all of you guys!

 

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