Thursday, December 4, 2014

New Work in Progress: FIELD HOCKEY HOT

Last month, we checked in with Kate Galvin, Associate Producer and General Manager at 11th Hour Theatre Company, as she told us about their brand new musical, Field Hockey Hot.

Field Hockey Hot is a smart and entertaining new satire about a high school girls’ field hockey team, their ambitious coach and America’s favorite pastime…winning! When Applebee Academy’s star goalie is injured two weeks before the championship, Coach Shipley Barnes will stop at nothing to win the North American title. It's a hilarious and zany comedy featuring a pop score inspired by iconic musicians of the 1980s and a world where field hockey rules all!

How did Field Hockey Hot find its way to 11th Hour? 
Writer/Composer Michael Ogborn had come to see our 2008 production of Reefer Madness and it just clicked! Michael has an outrageous sense of humor and he'd been kicking around an idea about field hockey and female athletes (those hot, tough, unapproachable girls from high school) but the show hadn't taken shape for him yet.  When he saw our version of Reefer, the style and performances and musical drive matched what he wanted Field Hockey Hot to be. He knew then that he wanted 11th Hour to produce this show.

What attracted you and the rest of 11th Hour to the show originally?  
We love Michael's work and we also love him. Although he may be unknown to many of the NAMT members, Michael's work is beloved in Philadelphia;  he's been produced by 1812 Productions, the Arden Theatre Company and People's Light and Theater, where he has written many British-style Pantos for the holidays. So we were honored that he wanted to work with us. And we couldn't stop laughing when he pitched us the show! Michael sat down at a piano and talked us through the basic story, playing a little bit of the songs and stepping in to each character. He's a master; we were rolling!

Festival Show Update: THE SANDMAN

Last month, we caught up with alumni Richard Oberacker and Robert Taylor about the development of their 2013 Festival show, The Sandman, with Playing Pretend and their upcoming production in Denmark.
Drawn from the more nightmarish fantasy of E.T.A. Hoffmann, author of The Nutcracker, comes a new and darkly comic musical tale: The Sandman.  When Maria, the wife of an ingenious German clockmaker named Albert Strauss engages a new nanny, Fraulein Kaeseschweiss, to care for the two children, Nathaniel and Theresa, a series of bizarre and unnatural events begins to unfold.  As Theresa falls mysteriously ill, a flamboyant and unconventional physician, Dr. Copelius, is summoned upon the nanny's recommendation. The doctor comes with a young ward in tow, Clara Stahlbaum, recently orphaned after her entire family was incinerated in an inexplicable Christmas tree fire.  And as the Strauss family is thrust ever deeper into chaos, the sinister and Machiavellian forces at play are gradually revealedforces from which only the children may be able to save them.

What was the feedback like after you presented at the Festival?  
The feedback immediately following the presentations was very strong.  This included members approaching us directly after the performances and at the followup "meet the authors" events.  There were certainly a lot of questions about how the story ended, the true "fear factor" and the appropriateness of the material for various age groups.  From our point of view this was a perfect response because it meant we had used the presentation to introduce the material, but not give the whole thing away and to make people curious about whether or not the show was right for their theater.  It seems to us that the best thing an author can do is to present an excerpt that makes the members want to read and listen to the complete work.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Festival Show Update: BLOODSONG OF LOVE

Last month, we caught up with alumnus Joe Iconis as he prepared his 2011 Festival show, Bloodsong of Love, for a new immersive presentation at 54 Below on October 20.  

A wild musical theater interpretation of the Spaghetti Western film genre.   It follows the story of a wandering guitarist, known only as The Musician, on a journey to reclaim his bride from the evil clutches of Lo Cocodrilo.  Raucous, heartfelt and hilarious, Bloodsong is a raging battle cry for those who believe in art and love and sticking together.

What was the response to Bloodsong of Love after the Festival? 
It was really encouraging to hear the positive reactions of audiences and NAMT members. I met a rather large bearded man in the lobby of New World Stages and he said it was pretty good, so that was nice.

What did you learn from the Festival process and what changes have been made to the show since? 
By cutting down the show to a 45-minute preview, it helped us see what the most “important” moments were in a very clear way. When you’ve got to encapsulate an entire musical in a third of its own running time, songs you thought defined your entire piece suddenly seem less essential. It was a great exercise in forcing myself to be un-precious about my own work. I’ve done a ton of script work since then, and I think that’s it’s not only different but better.

The thing that has always been special about the show is that it is versatile in the ways that it can be presented. Was that intentional from its creation or something that evolved with the piece?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

FESTIVAL COUNTDOWN: The First Rehearsal

Stu for Silverton’s Peter Duchan paints us a portrait of an artist as a (rightfully)
neurotic man as he prepares, worries through, and survives his first rehearsal

First Rehearsal - A Neurotic's Schedule
7:44am. I give up on sleep and climb out of bed. Our first rehearsal for Stu for Silverton is today at 11:00am. I check the clock. Three hours stretch before me. I will do my best fill it with anxiety. But the problem with the first rehearsal is that nothing's actually happened yet. There's nothing concrete to be stressed about. I don’t let this deter me; I can invent something.

8:10am. A watched bagel doesn't toast, so I distract myself with fear fantasies about rehearsal while I wait for breakfast. We've created a forty-five minute cut especially for the NAMT Festival, so today will be my first time hearing this version of the script read aloud. It will be the actors’ first time hearing it aloud as well. What if they don't like it? That's nonsense, Peter: they wouldn't have agreed to be in it if they hated the material. But what if

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

FESTIVAL COUNTDOWN: Casting for the Festival

As their show “graduates” from Southern California to New York City, Mary Marie bookwriter and lyricist Chana Wise sweetly reflects on how it felt to be greeted by a fresh new group of
actors and singers who will breathe new life into their musical.

So, we’ve made it into the NAMT Festival. We’ve got an amazing director and musical director, we’ve sweated over cutting our piece to the required 45-minutes, and now—casting!

Truth be told, almost from the first moment I put fingertips to keyboard in the creation of Mary Marie I was able to hear the voices of the characters coming from the mouths of specific actors; friends who had agreed to help us develop the show. They got us through the teething, crawling, first steps, dare I say potty training, and eventually the adolescent stage of the show, and we have been so fortunate that these actors stayed with us through the whole development process, which included five or six staged readings. Not only had they become entrenched in the work, but we all

Monday, October 20, 2014

FESTIVAL COUNTDOWN: Writing my First Musical

We kick off Festival week with Sarah Hammond’s delightful reflections on what
inspired her to transition from playwright to bookwriter of this year’s Festival show, String!

I came to New York as a playwright, but I'm like most theater kids from the farflung suburbs of America: I grew up on musicals. At 9, I was choreographing dances for "If Momma Was Married" to be performed on roller skates at the bottom of our cul de sac. I grew up singing Aladdin in the carpool, playing munchkins in The Wizard of Oz, and from 5th through 8th grade, cast myself as Little Red for school talent shows, in which I sang in a dress my grandma made. What a geek!  I had an aquablue tie-dye JC Superstar tee-shirt, in the bible-thumping South, and I remember insisting earnestly, "it's not a church shirt, it's a theater shirt, it is a show, a musical, and it is by Andrew Lloyd Weber." Geek.

Then in college, I discovered Falsettos and Hello Again, and while I wrote plays in South Carolina and then Iowa, I secretly loved these great ruthless musicals created by faraway people. In shows like these, singing's like breathing. Like there's no other way to exist except in music. It's tumultuous and it's funny and it's the best thing there is. But I loved all that in secret. I never knew any musical theatre writers till I got to New York in 2006, and when I got here, one of the first people I met was Adam Gwon, which turned out to be a pretty lucky break. Adam loves playwrights, and I love musicals, so... crazily, we decided to

Friday, October 17, 2014

FESTIVAL COUNTDOWN: Returning to the Festival

With less than a week until the Festival, How to Break bookwriter/lyricist and Festival Alum Aaron Jafferis reminisces about his successes and memories (albeit sporadic)
since the 2007 Festival, and why returning to the Festival proves to be an important step in the development of his latest project.

Along with Rebecca Hart and Yako 440, I’m one of the authors of How to Break, a hip-hop musical about being ill, that will be showcased at this year’s Festival.

I’m pretty sure my and Ian Williams’ show Kingdom was in the NAMT festival 2007. Though I have no memory of the year 2007, I have evidence that it worked out well, since many of the contacts in my “theatre industry” Excel spreadsheet say “NAMT 07.” I also know that it was at the NAMT festival where folks from The Old Globe first got interested in Kingdom, which is what led to our first production, first agent, first improper liaison with a cast member, etc.

(Note: that last “first” is in dispute, thanks to differing definitions of words like “improper” and