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:)
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!
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.
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.
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?
Kim Suskind was back to record more songs today. Check out Soar and Stand Tall. Thanks Kim for making the trip all the way from Jersey!
So it’s been a couple of weeks since my last entry. As you know I finished the draft I wrote and passed that on to a writer who has been siting with it and reading it over. We had a meeting last night and he shared many of his notes with me- and there were many! I will say I agreed with just about everything he had to say which is good that we are on the same page. (Ha- get it, same page!). But the truth is I know now that the show is just beginning to be created. The original idea I had will still be there but songs will leave, new songs will be created, characters will be developed. It’s all part of the process, I know. We will just have to wait….and see.
On a fun note, I am still recording demos so keep checking the music page. This Wednesday, Kimberly Suskind is coming to record several songs including SOAR which is one of my favorites. I can’t wait to hear how it sounds with her wonderful voice. Kim is presently starring in John and Jen at the Eagle Theatre in Hammonton, NJ. I went to go see her perform last week and she was amazing. The Eagle theatre is South Jersey’s only Equity theatre. It is an amazing little theatre and I highly recommend a visit there if you want a fun night out.
And this past weekend I recorded two adorable and talented young boys, Max Ringold and Lyam David – Kilker. You can hear them on “Just Wanna Be” and “I Believe You.”
Oh – and I just re read my post from two weeks ago. In it I said that all the songs were finished being written. Ha! That’s so funny, and so naive of me to say! I actually just wrote another one a few days ago and am now guessing I’ll be writing at least ten more in the next few months. I can only imagine how many songs will have been written for this show when it’s all said and done. Anyone want to go for an over/under? My guess is 32.
Scoring. Probably the most boring but most necessary part of the process. Without the score there is nothing. Unfortunately when I write music I write the notes in such a way that only I can read them. I actually am a trained pianist and can read music just fine- it’s transcribing it that I never mastered. And yes, there is great software that can speed things along- but you still need to master that. So that is why I spend hours and hours with Alfred Goodrich at Silvertone Studios in Ardmore.
Alfred is amazing. I spent literally hundreds of hours with him when working on my first show, Class Reunion, because not only is he a master at Finale- the scoring software, but he also has an incredible recording studio in his house. But for right now we are just hard at work scoring the songs for Brilliant. Heres how we work. I go to his studio, I play the songs piece by piece, and he makes sure every note, every rest, every little everything is perfectly placed on that paper. Once I have completed scores I can send them to the actors, musicians, anyone involved in the show. So the picture you see below is my view for hours and hours on end. Just FYI- it takes us about 3.5 hours to complete one song and there are 17 songs so far in the show (and I’m sure some will be tossed and more will come). So that’s alot of time spent with Alfred! It’s a good thing we get along so well.
Well, I wasn’t going to do an entry today- but it’s been such a good day so far I might as well. So first and foremost I finally finished the last two songs. They are short songs, “Lullaby” and “Round and Round” but still they are an integral part of the show. I just finished recording the instrumental tracks and hopefully my voice will sound okay enough later to record vocals and get them up on the website. Woohoo- songs are done!
But what’s way cooler is that I got a reply from Benj Pasek from an email I sent him a few weeks back. I feel like an idiot because I didn’t wish him good luck on the Oscars in that email. Ugh. Anyway- I was writing him because at the time I felt this overwhelming desire to connect with him because we had both worked on shows which focused on boys from the same school. Benj grew up not far from me and Dear Evan Hanson was inspired by a boy who went to Friends Central school. My show is also insprired by a boy who attended that school a few years later. And the coincidences don’t top there. Both shows deal with boys who are out of the norm. AND – his mother who is a professor of psychology, most recently wrote a book entitled, …..wait for it….”Becoming Brilliant”! I mean c’mon! So I had to reach out. I actually was able to have a wonderful conversation with his mother who was so supportive and helpful.
I decided I will print out that email along with one I recently received from Charles Strouse (composer of Annie and Bye Bye Birdie) and I will pin them up in my office to look at everyday and keep me motivated!