TOP 25 SONGS: VOLUME 9

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

Music & Lyrics by: Nadav Wiesel

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

“Please, Belize” was written as an assignment for the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop in NY. The assignment was to write a comedy song based on “Angels in America”.I chose Millenium Approaches.Act 3, Scene 2. Louis and Prior have been life partners for years, but when Prior becomes ill with the mysterious virus spreading among gay men in the 1980’s Louis finds it too hard to handle. As Prior becomes sicker and hospitalized, Louis retreats and abandons his lover. The song takes place when Louis meets Belize, a mutual friend who’s been nursing and caring for Prior in Louis’ absence. Louis, consumed with guilt, but ever analytical and sharp, tries to persuade Belize, as well as himself, that HE is the real victim in the situation.

Did you write it for anyone in mind?

I did not write the song with any particular performer in mind, but was vastly influenced by Ben Shenkman’s powerful performance as Louis in the “Angels in America” mini-series.

What are you most proud of with this song?

I am most proud of capturing the character of Louis. He is complex and doesn’t lend himself to song very easily. But I believe the song manages to capture the lovable quirky jerk he is- with his over-complication, self-indulgence, intelligence and charm, while the music conveys his frantic pace and agitation.

What was the most difficult thing about writing this song?

Writing a comedy song for a character in distress is tricky, particularly when the distress is so justified. The key to comedy in this song is not Louis’ sad state but his self-pity and his unashamed comparison to his off-stage lover. Realizing this was crucial to treading the fine line between comedy and tragedy.

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

I never want anyone to know how ridiculous I looked writing the song in my studio. I was working myself up into a catatonic state of mind, half crying, to try and nail Louis’ state of mind. It was pretty sad.

Tell us what excites you most about contemporary musical theatre.

Between loud colorful entertainment and subtle artsy theater- musical theater today can be anything!

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

It’s quite challenging to emerge as a new voice, and get your show produced. Particularly, at a time when producers utilize their kitchen-sink dramas’ sets to host cooking shows in the afternoon.

What are you currently working on?

THE FEMME FATALE SHOW – a revue of history’s evil women – is gearing up for an off-Broadway production. I am currently writing two other shows – a children’s musical based on a famous book, and a classic musical comedy based on a film. Details soon.

How can we keep track of what you’re up to (website, etc…)?

My website and blog: www.NadavW.com.

For updates and information on The Femme Fatale Show: www.FemmeFataleShow.com.

Real Adventure

Music by: Sam Willmott
Lyrics by: Marcus Stevens

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

Ten-year-old Emma Katz is an incredibly imaginative girl, but her constant forays into fantasy put her at odds with her teacher, her classmates and her family.  Towards the end of the show, Emma’s mother encourages her to marry the world of her imagination with the world around her and have a “real adventure”.

Did you write it for anyone in mind?  

Not in particular, no.  We were mostly focused on communicating this critical plot point as cleanly and honestly as possible.

What are you most proud of with this song? 

We were advised repeatedly that it was a bad idea to put a ballad in a family-oriented musical, and an even worse idea to place it near the end of the show.  The fear was that younger audience members would lose focus, become antsy and disruptive, and spoil the moment.  We knew, however, that we had to have a song at this particular spot in the show because of its significance to the plot, and furthermore that the song had to be poignant and earnest in order to communicate its point effectively.  As research, we took a hard look at the great kid-friendly ballads  (like “Part of Your World”, “Beauty and the Beast”, and “When You Believe”) and tried to ascertain what makes them work.  We learned that if our song were very active, directly corresponded to a high-stakes plot development, and had a clear emotional point of view that would be accessible even to our littlest viewers, that we might just get away with it.  So far, over three productions with audience members as young as two or three years old, we have.

What was the most difficult thing about writing this song?  

We did a whole separate draft of the song with a different hook and lyrical content.  After putting more elements of the show together, we were able to see much more clearly what the song was “about”, and rethink it accordingly.

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

It contains the following direction written into the score: “Dear actress, if you belt this, I will hunt you down.”  Sing at your own risk.

Tell us what excites you most about contemporary musical theatre.

There seems to be a vibrant new “grassroots” movement with regards to musical theater.  Towns across the country have these incredible, colorful, daring theatre programs, and people from all walks of life come together to commit tremendous amounts of time, dedication and love to their productions.  We have been fortunate enough to participate in some of these adventures with Yo, Vikings!; it is always an honor and a thrill to be able to partake in such a rewarding experience.

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

Our goal with Yo, Vikings! was to write a true family musical… something that would be as compelling for the adults as it was engaging for the kids.  While movies seem to split the difference with some degree of facility (Pixar movies, classic Disney, etc.), theater is different; shows really tend to skew more towards “children’s theater” or theater for adults.  Working outside of a niche has proven challenging, and makes the timbre of this particular show difficult to explain.

What are you currently working on?  

We both have a range of projects up our sleeves, from writing to performance (Marcus is one of the cast members of the new Forbidden Broadway) to other creative endeavors.

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

We both have websites (marcus-stevens.com and samwillmott.com), as well as Facebook pages.  Yo, Vikings! also has its own Facebook page with audio clips and production photos.

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Please visit www.contemporarymusicaltheatre.com for more information on over 150 contemporary musical theatre writers and 360+ songs, all searchable by voice and song type.

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