I’ve been plugging away at a pseudonymous mystery series, but I’ve tried to keep a musical project going simultaneously. For the last few years, it’s been an adaptation of “Gilgamesh,” for which I am doing the book and my old Lehman Engel Workshop classmate Lawrence Rush is doing the score. More on that as we get it out into the world, but the point is, it’s completed [although not done. Nothing is ever done.]
So, what now? I have promoted a back-burner project to the front burner. Back-burner, as in since 2004. At the end of my first year of the workshop, we had to write a short musical. I paired up with the then young, still pretty young Matt Frey to write a 14 minute musical that was about a murder.
Several years later, I started writing with the late, great Mark Sutton-Smith. The first musical we wrote was a one-act called “Bad Reception.” Which was, in part, about a murder. [You can listen to it here.]
See a pattern yet? I didn’t. It took me a few more years to think, “Aha! I have two short musicals about murder. I should pair them up.” But that only made for about 36 minutes of theater. I decided I needed more short musicals. About murder. With different composers for each, and no more than six performers for the whole shebang.
This has been sitting inside my head for maybe a decade, but with “Gilgamesh” complete, I thought now or never. I started looking for compatible composers. I will list them by their initials so as to keep a little, ya know, mystery going until the project is done.
RP I met when we both did the musical game show “Tune in Time” at the York Theatre. DA is someone whose work I’ve known, seen and admired for a while. We had our first long talk at a Tony Awards party, and he came to critique the “Gilgamesh” table read. SS was referred to me by the estimable Seth Christenfeld of the York. She’s half my age, but we clicked on the creative side. DH saw my want ad on the Dramatists Guild website.
How long will all of this take? Dunno. I have no deadlines. The nice thing about writing short musicals is that they’re, um, short. So the time-frame for completion is not like a full-length project, and people can write inside the gaps of their schedules.
Ideally, each musical will be a different style of story-telling and music. I have planned an absurdist black comedy, a ghostly romance, a country and western road story, a psychiatric thriller [à cappella, maybe?], a jazzy confrontation at a gravesite, and a genteel send-up of every British drawing room scene there has ever been.
What I have, at the moment, are the two completed shows from years ago — and one brand new song as of today.
My feeling is that you haven’t begun writing a musical until the first song is done. We’re on our way. I will try and post regularly on the progress.
Meanwhile, there’s another mystery to be written, and that pesky but financially sustaining day job.
Watch this space!