TOP 25 SONGS: VOLUME 8

This blog is a part of The Directory of Contemporary Musical Theatre Writers, found online at www.contemporarymusicaltheatre.com
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Mediocre Man

Music & Lyrics by: Rachel Peters

Tell us about your song. If it’s from a musical, set the song up for us.

This is not from a musical. It is just a standalone cabaret song.

Did you write it for anyone in mind?

Nope.

What are you most proud of with this song?

I think/hope I captured the essence of all those standards where a woman is pining for (or bragging about) a man who is unattractive/untalented/unintelligent etc. My point was to send that up because I want to see a repertoire full of songs about women who know they deserve guys who aren’t, well, losers. And people seem to get that.

What was the most difficult thing about writing this song?

Well, I wrote it about eleven years ago, and that was before I had Finale, so writing it out by hand was annoying. Other than that, I have made tiny tweaks to the lyrics that were maybe a little challenging to arrive at. But the biggest challenge has been getting people to like it! When I first presented it years ago, no one appreciated it, and it’s taken all this time for people to get on board. It just goes to show you never know, I guess.

What else would you like us to know about this song?

Not much. I think it speaks for itself. Oh, except please don’t belt the end!

Tell us what excites you most about contemporary musical theatre.

We are fortunate to be standing on the shoulders of so many pioneers who paved the way for us and continue to show us how it’s done, and we’re able to build on those models and leap to just about anywhere we want. And now we have access to so much information about all kinds of topics that theoretically anything is up for grabs, and we have so many different ways to realize them onstage.

What do you find to be most challenging about this business?

Well, I said theoretically. I think economic restraints make people scared to produce –and write, present company excepted–truly adventurous work. I am not at all down with what seem to be the accepted definitions of “edgy” and “subversive”. In reality we have a glut of such smart work that really does push the envelope and take it to new places, but so much of it never sees the light of day because everyone is worried about how to entice people to pay for tickets upwards of $100. And the demographic of the people who do buy those tickets dictates what comes next, and it’s a vicious cycle. So what we see on Broadway does not reflect the true and physically available totality of where the art form is now. And that, my friends, is a darn shame.

What are you currently working on?

An operatic adaptation of Arthur Phillips’s short story, Companionship. It is about a homicidal baguette. I have a fellowship with American Opera Projects this year, and they will be presenting scenes from it in September. I have also been kicking around a dramatic cantata called Canon I for soprano, piano, electric guitar, and photocopier. Besides that, it’s the odd song here and there.

How can we keep track of what you’re up to?

www.racheljpeters.com
www.facebook.com/racheljpeterscomposer
www.youtube.com/user/singinganagram

Enjoy!

My Sky

Music & Lyrics by: Adam Overett

Tell us about your song. If it’s from a musical, set the song up for us.

The song was from a pitch for a musical about a young girl, an orphan, who’s gone to live with her extended family in Puritan New England. She’s a vibrant, spirited young person in a very rigid world, and after a time she confesses to her only friend how trapped she feels.

Did you write it for anyone in mind?

I didn’t have a particular actress in mind, but the character is the kind of young ingenue that would play Ariel in THE LITTLE MERMAID. I’ve now heard the song done by many different actresses with different styles, including Stephanie J. Block who belts it to the rafters, and Elena Shaddow with a gorgeous legit soprano sound, and both styles are absolutely thrilling to me.

What are you most proud of with this song?

One of my favorite qualities in any song is a very tight structure — having no moments where the music or lyrics feel excessive, or misplaced, or shoehorned in — and I’m proud of the structure here. I think it helps in illuminating a character with a very simple, but strong and profound desire: to break out of the cage she’s trapped in. I also wanted the music to suggest a bird soaring through the sky and turning on the wind, and I think the rise and fall of the melody against the descending scale in the accompaniment help to paint that picture.

What was the most difficult thing about writing this song?

I gave myself a tight rhyming pattern (e.g., in one stanza, the internal “Show me / Throw me” rhymes in addition to the ending rhymes of “door / soar”), and that became difficult to maintain while keeping the dramatic arc of the song intact — and not making her sound like an English professor.

What else would you like us to know about this song?

At first blush it may seem like a wistful, dreamy song, but I think it works best with a broader spectrum of emotions: real desperation, ache, even anger.

Tell us what excites you most about contemporary musical theatre.

I love that writers these days are finding new ways to tell stories through music, and using new musical means to do it — rock, pop, art song and opera influences are all over contemporary theatre scores. I like that there is no single “Broadway sound” these days — the more different musical styles we draw on, the better. I think it’s extremely important, in order to keep our art form thriving, to keep our musical styles relevant to today’s culture.

What do you find to be most challenging about this business?

It takes an enormous investment of resources — passion, energy, money and time — with a good chance there will be little to no payoff. It can be heartbreaking to work so hard in a medium that presents such huge challenges, when your work might never be seen or heard.

What are you currently working on?

I have two new musicals, both comedies — POPESICAL, about what happens in the Sistine Chapel when the Cardinals are electing a new Pope; and MY LIFE IS A MUSICAL, about a guy whose life is, well, an actual musical. POPESICAL just had a workshop production at the Lyric Theatre in Los Angeles, and I’m planning more development opportunities for both shows.

How can we keep track of what you’re up to?

Check out www.adamoverett.com for news, demos, and a gallery of sheet music you can download for yourself — and keep coming back for updates!

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