Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Behind The Music-al at 92Y Tribeca

As is often the case on Mondays, there were a ton of events last night for theater people to choose from, like the In The Heights reunion concert and the NAMT songwriter concert at 54 Below, so you might have missed Behind The Music-al: Just Add Music at 92YTribeca. So I'm here to tell you what you missed.

Behind The Music-al is an ongoing series about up-and-coming musical theater composers. Past guests have included Adam Guettel, Joe Iconis, and Ryan Scott Oliver. This week's guests were Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening) and Laurence O'Keefe (Bat Boy: The Musical, Legally Blonde: The Musical). The series is curated by Kyle Ewalt and Michael Walker (Bromance: The Dudesical).

O'Keefe was the moderator and the format was fairly casual, with performances interspersed with conversation about the writing behind the songs. First up were performances from musicals that Ewalt and Walker are working on--Pumped, about the world of designer shoes, and Separate: Battle Songs of Youth. Separate actually began as an adaptation of A Seperate Peace, which they didn't have the rights to. They ended up not being able to get the rights, but they liked the music they had written, and decided to write a new book to fit those songs. The theme of the evening was just add music (as in adding music to preexisting material, like a movie), so this led to an interesting discussion about letting the music dictate the story or vice versa as well as making sure you have the rights to something before you adapt it.

Next up, O'Keefe presented a song from Walk of Shame, which actually started as an idea for a raunchy movie musical, but since there apparently isn't a lot of demand for that (crazy, right?), it might end up being a stage musical. Of all the shows we heard from that night, this is the one I most want to see, though I honestly hope to get to see all of them. The next musical he talked about, Life of the Party, about the music industry in Stalin's Soviet Russia, also sounded fascinating.  The last song was from Heathers, a musical adaptation of the movie.

O'Keefe frequently collaborates with his wife, Nell Benjamin, who is apparently working on a musical adaptation of Because of Winn Dixie with Duncan Sheik (if this was already announced, I'd forgotten about it). Sheik didn't sing anything from that, but did sing songs from Whisper House, Nero, and The Nightingale (backed by a string quartet!).  He closed with a song not from theater, which seemed out of place for the evening, but it was still a good song, so I can't complain too much. Except I would have preferred he close with something from American Psycho.

The next Behind The Music-al will be in April and the lineup hasn't been announced yet, but I encourage anyone interested in the behind the scenes of musical theater to check it out.

Song List:
1) "Back to the Drawing Board" from Pumped (Ewalt and Walker)
2) "Woe Is Us" from Pumped (Ewalt and Walker)
3)"Fat Old Man" from Battle Songs (Ewalt and Walker)
4) "Not Worried (Split Screen Love Duet)" from Walk of Shame (O'Keefe)
5) "Honey I'm Home" from Life of the Party (O'Keefe) (turns out this was a trunk song from Legally Blonde that fit really well!)
6) Song from Heathers (Didn't catch the name, but it was sung by the character of Martha Dumptruck before attempting to kill herself) (O'Keefe)
7) "The Tale of Solomon Snell" from Whisper House (Sheik)
8) "The Lover from Hell" from Nero (Sheik)
9) "My Extraordinary Past" from The Nightingale (Sheik)
10) "Such Reveries" (Sheik)

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