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About the Musical

So this is my very first blog entry for Brilliant.  I have been wanting to keep a journal about this experience for the last year and half so I’m glad I’m finally getting around to it.  I think this is actually perfect timing to begin writing this blog because last night I was at an event where a woman spoke about happiness.  She actually has a Masters degree in happiness if you can believe that.  Anyway, the audience was filled with woman ages 40 – 6o and for most woman this age, the speaker said happiness means finding a purpose.  I sat there listening to this woman speak and I thought to myself, “I got this. I’m there.”

This show is my purpose.  It is all I think about every waking moment (and many sleeping moments as well).  I work on it whenever I can.  I have no choice.  Writing a musical, I think, as always been my life’s purpose.  I clearly remember being about 6 years old, baseball and glove in hand, throwing a ball around on my front lawn while singing scenes from some made up story in my head.  Any time throughout my educational career, if a teacher was wiling to accept a song in place of an essay, I was on it.   Putting stories to music is what gives me the most joy, the most fulfillment.   Creating a full length musical for the stage is a daunting task, especially when you are a busy mother of three, but when you have no other choice but to create it, you make it happen.

For many, many years I did not have a minute to even look at a piano.  I had three young children, one of whom needed alot of extra care and attention.  There were many years that were extremely difficult and my personal happiness was put on the back burner.  Now what is so amazing is that unbeknownst to me, those years would prove to be my greatest gift.  The memories of all difficult times and those emotions, they were all being stored away until I finally would find the time to return to the piano and begin writing again.  What came out was, and is, what I feel, a beautiful story of a mother, father, and son. I have found how to make lemons out of lemonade.

Thank you for visiting my blog.  From here on out my entries will most likely keep you up to date on the business side of things.  There is so much happening, it’s very exciting!  I also will go back and tell you how I even got to this point for those of you who are interested.  But I think this is a good start.  Thanks for reading and for coming along on the ride of Brilliant the Musical!

 

 

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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Exactly one year ago

So, exactly one year ago I finished the first draft of Brilliant.  I know this because it popped up on my Facebook page.  Really, how would we ever remember anything if it wasn’t for Facebook?  We certainly wouldn’t remember anybody’s birthdays.  Anyway, let see where we’ve come since a year ago.  Well, We’ve gotten rid of the following songs: YOU GOTTA PLAY A SPORT, BALLERINA, TELL ME ‘BOUT YOUR BOY, BRILLIANT, SOAR, I BELIEVE IN YOU, and, JUST A LITTLE BIT.  Wow- that’s 7 songs that have been written, scored, and recorded and may never be heard from again.  It’s a bummer about the song, BRILLIANT because I got the name for the show from that song- so I’m not even sure now if we should be calling the show BRILLIANT.  And I really liked the song SOAR. Oh well.

Here is the good news.  I have added the following songs: ME AND THE STICK, IF I HAD A SON, THE DOCTOR SONG, JAKE WELLINGTON, MY VICE, SOUND OF MY HEART, THE PROM, TOGETHER, FILL THIS HOME WITH LOVE.  That’s eight new songs, plus I fixed up the oldies.  Oh yeah- and what else has changed-?  Oh yeah, I have a writer!  Duh!

Now, unfortunately we have been on hold since Philip has put up four shows in four months (not kidding).  One of the shows he was director was the Shipley School’s HAIRSPRAY- choreographed by none other than my daughter, Sammi, who also had a featured role as Velma.  She was AMAZING!  I have never been so proud of her.  But the best part about hat show is that Phillip can hopefully get back to work on Brilliant with me.    I’ve learned not to put any deadlines or expectations on this project- but maybe a reading in the summer???  Maybe???

 

Happy Holidays and where are we?

So Happy holidays to anyone who is reading.  Chanukah just past and Christmas and New Years are on their way.  In our house however, the big focus is all about college.  We’ve started hearing back from colleges for my oldest daughter.  I can’t say anything more here until April. Sorry.

I realized on my last blog entry I didn’t say anything about what’s going on with the show.  Well, we are still moving forward and that’s a good thing.  Actually, our last few meetings have been amazing because we are really getting this second act in focus.  I just love where this story is going.  It is such a small story-but with so many big emotions.  It’s really just taking such a magnifying glass at a family’s struggle – really a couple’s struggle- on how best to help their child.  I mean- if this isn’t want every parent is dealing with on a day to day basis, I don’t know what is.  I was somewhere the other day when someone said something like, “Good art is art that needs to be shared because it will have an impact on the audience.  It can help them in some way”  I know this musical is just that and it is sooo frustrating because I wish we could just perform it today!  Yesterday even.  But that’s just not how this is going to go.

But for anyone following along on this journey, just know we are still busy at it.  Kim came over last week and laid down some more vocals which are now on the site.  I have been desperately looking for a male to sing the lead male role.  I can’t tell you how hard it is to find someone.  No one responds to any of my postings on the theatre sites.  However, I did get one good response and he is coming to record the end of January, so that’s good.  I need to hear these songs sung by a male!!!  And of course I like to have these demos in case I want to apply for a festival or show someone what I am working on.

Happy New Year!  Let’s see what 2018 brings:)

We’re on the Radio with Seth Rudetsky!

Yes, you read the title.  My friend, Julie Savitch, and I were co hosts on Seth Rudetsky’s Big Fat Broadway radio show on Sirius XM.  I  have been a fan of Seth for a very long time.  He is the most entertaining and talented person when it comes to musical theatre.  He is an incredible pianist.  He can play any song at any time- it’s unreal.  He has played the piano for many Broadway shows and has been the musical director for several others.  He also is simply hysterical.  He used to be a writer on the Rosie O’Donnell show amongst others.  Honestly, I cannot even begin to list his credits here.  Let’s just say in the world of Broadway he knows everything and everyone and has a funny story to tell about it all.

“Anywho” (that’s a Seth line) – I won the opportunity to co-cohost with him at the Broadway Equity Fights Aids annual Flea Market and Auction.  This Flea Market happens once a year on 45th and 46th street and is a great way to find Broadway memorabilia while of course supporting organizations such as the AIDS Initiative and the Phyllis Newman women’s Health Initiative amongst others.  I personally was focused on collecting all of the Playbills I seemed to have misplace from shows I attended in the past.  I think I left the Flea Market with about 20 playbills all for just $20.  What a deal!   I was saving my money for the grand auction which was held in Shubert Alley later that evening.  If you have any interest you have to go to this auction- if only to see what is being auctioned off.  The list of items included opening tickets to every show opening this season, to walk on opportunities to every Broadway show, etc.  The list of items was incredible.  Well, I had my eyes set on the Seth Rudestky package:  two tickets to Gypsy of the Year (which Seth was hosting), and the chance to cohost his radio show.  Now, I really had no interest on going on air- that was way to nerve racking to think about – but the opportunity to meet Seth- (and of course making a donation to a wonderful cause at the same time) was something I couldn’t pass up.  When the time came I raised my paddle high and low and behold I won!

Julie and I had a blast that day we went to record.  It was AHHHHMazing  (another Seth line).  It was very cool getting to see the Sirius studios.  And Seth couldn’t have been more welcoming.  Of course I panicked every time I had to answer a question; such as, “What are your favorite Broadway shows?”  I mean, I wish I had time to list all of them, but I went with Wicked (how could I not?), Blood Brothers (I was addicted while in college) and Joseph and the amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (because it’s freaking the best and I can’t stand that more schools don’t just do this show because kids love it and ALW wrote it at 16 for g-ds sake!).

I hope there will be a day when I won’t keep having these awesome opportunities because I won them- but because I EARNED them.  I HOPE there will be a day when I will be interviewed because I worked on Brilliant, or some other show.  But for now these experiences are what keeps me going and they keep it within reach.  And I know I am beyond fortunate to get the do them.

ps – Check him out signing my Brilliant Bag!

Still Going

No, we haven’t stopped working.  We may have lost a little steam over August since both Phillip and I had family commitments, but now we are right back on track, meeting every week and making great progress.   It’s really starting to come together.  We are down to our final two scenes of the show and I think that is very exciting.  I uploaded a new song today – “Jake Wellington”, and hopefully I will be able to upload “That Miracle” some time next week.  I will be back at Alfred’s this week and next to score those two songs.

Then the work really begins again for me.  The final few songs I have to write for this first draft (or really, isn’t it our second draft) are all really big numbers which is a bit intimidating.  However, it will be fun to get back onto the piano again.  I have been waiting to write more songs until our book was a bit farther along.

So for anyone who is out there and following along (which I don’t think is anyone – but whatever) we are still very hard at work and hopefully should have some sort of finished first version by the end of October???  And we may be able to keep the title, “Brilliant” after all.

Quiet is okay

I thought I would post since it has a been a while and I’d like to keep this as updated as possible.  So it’s been quiet here – but in this case I’d say quiet is good.  I took a break from composing a put my draft in the hands of local writer, Phillip Brown.  We actually have been working together, meeting weekly.  We decided to make some pretty big changes to the original story; however, the overall theme of the story is staying the same which is all that matters to me.  So we are now hard at work creating, what I think, will be a much stronger and more dramatic story.  What does that mean for all of the songs posted on this site?  Well, we shall see. Obviously most will not fit so neatly into this new book; however, we are seeing that some do which is nice.  I had some weeks off from writing so now my head is clear to get back to the piano- which is actually where I am headed right now!  Going to finish the new opening song – (Luckily though, we are still using Pose! – yay!)  We will not be able to have a reading in June as I originally planned- but we will have one eventually-maybe Fall?  We shall see!  I will post Phillips resume in the coming weeks so you can all get to know him.  We are having a blast.

 

Staying Motivated

So I just returned from a week long vacation with my oldest daughter.  We were visiting different cities looking at colleges.  We had an amazing time together; and honestly, I was so enjoying each day with her and what we were doing that I didn’t have much time to think about Brilliant.  That was until our visit to NYC which included a night out to see Dear Evan Hanson.  Now I have known about this show for quite some time and would have seen it earlier but I wanted to wait and take my daughter during this college tour week.  I was always concerned that there would be to many similarities between DEH and Brilliant and therefore there would be no need for me to continue working on my show.  After seeing DEH, I can say there certainly are similarities.  The stories are similar in the fact that they both take a close, personal look at a family’s struggle.  Now, this is not only seen in DEH, but also recently in The Case of the Incident of the Dog in the Night, Fun Home and Next to Normal.  I really see this type of storytelling in musical theatre as a trend.  The similarities don’t stop. In DEH and in Brilliant the story resolves around an atypical boy.  However, in DEH, the story really focuses on the boy’s struggle and in Brilliant, it is the paren’t struggle that is the center focus.

Okay- so where in the world do I have the audacity to even compare my show with a show that will certainly be up for a Tony?  I know-  I really don’t.  That’s what is so frustrating.  I had some issues with the show, but there is no doubt that the music was fantastic.  I had enjoyed listening to the soundtrack before but now after seeing the show, I am enjoying it so much more.  So where does that leave me?  Kind of depressed in a way because it’s like, “Shit-  if this show is going to make it onto any stage it needs to be THAT good- and can I really make it that good?  Can I even make it half that good?”  Well – I could just give up now, or I can use that experience to motivate me to keep working.  After a week’s hiatus I revisited my songs and I thought- well- that one is okay- but that one has to go.  So I will now get back to work at the piano while the writer continues his work on the book.  I can’t really complain- any reason for me to have to spend hours at the piano is actually a gift.  So round two – here we go!

ps-  I ran into Charles Strouse (composer of Annie/Bye Bye Birdie) AGAIN at a store in NYC.  That’s two times in 3 months!  And I’m not even from NY.  It could be a sign…but for what?