This blog is a part of The Directory of Contemporary Musical Theatre Writers, found online at


A Sorta Love Song

Music by: Paul Loesel
Lyrics by: Scott Burkell

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

“A Sorta Love Song” is from our musical, THE EXTRAORDINARY ORDINARY. The character of Kate sings the song about her boyfriend, Stu (actually unseen in the show).  During Act 1, Kate constantly gets more than simple ribbing from her best friend Karen, about whether Stu is “good enough for her.”  Karen, by the way, is a chronic list writer.  Kate takes Karen’s cue, and writes a pro/con list of her relationship with Stu – the song, “A Sorta Love Song.”  After singing about his positive attributes and negative so-called flaws, Kate comes to the conclusion that both of those things are what she loves about Stu – the good AND the slightly quirky.  She has discovered that she has found the perfection in both the perfect and imperfect.

Did you write it for anyone in mind?

We did not write it for a specific person other than the character in the show.

What are you most proud of with this song?

Over the years there has been such a strong reaction to the song in that it seems that everyone can relate to it.  The quirkiness of the Kate, the character singing it is nicely balanced with her hearfelt thought process and ultimate decision in loving her perfectly imperfect boyfriend.  And, we think it’s a tuneful and catchy song – quite hummable!

What was the most difficult thing about writing this song?

Musically, it was pretty much in place from the beginning, stylistically.  Scott’s work on the lyrics has changed over time with the development of the show and the character’s journey.  There are multiple lyric versions floating around in sheet music and videos out there.

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

Hmmmm…I think we would hope that singers aim for complete honesty – to dig deep for a personal connection.

Tell us what excites you most about contemporary musical theatre.

What excites us most about today’s musical theatre is the huge variety in musical and thematic styles.  There’s a little bit of everything available to all!

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

Well, it seems to be easier to get our work out there into the world for actors/singers to “discover” our work, (ESPECIALLY with the introduction of The Contemporary Musical Theatre Directory!), but the next step can sometimes be elusive – finding producers and investors to take us on for full production.

What are you currently working on?

Our next musical, ELLA MINNOW PEA, based on the novel of the same name by Mark Dunn, is in development here in New York.  This fall we will be embarking on a three week developmental workshop.  We are quite excited, to say the least

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

Our website, where you can listen to audio clips, watch videos, and learn more about us from our cyber moms, is   Also, please “like” our facebook page, Scott Burkell and Paul Loesel, where we can keep you up to date with all that is going on with us!  Thanks, and enjoy, “A Sorta Love Song.”


They Fly

Music & Lyrics by: Clay Zambo

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

They Fly is a retelling of the Icarus legend–but from the perspective of his father, Daedalus.  Most people know that Icarus died when he flew too close to the sun on wings made from wax and feathers.  Not as many know that his father made the wings, and that he constructs them so that the two can escape from a king’s prison.

This song is the conclusion of the show.  Icarus has fallen into the sea.  Daedalus, heartbroken, stands on the sand, seeing feathers wash in with the tide.  Athena, the goddess of wisdom and Daedalus’s patron, appears to console him.  (In the original production, as the song progresses, more and more voices join Athena’s until the entire company is there; then, in the final moment, Icarus appears as a spirit and sings with his father.)

Did you write it for anyone in mind?

Every year since 1999 I’ve been commissioned to write a one-act musical for a summer musical theatre workshop at the Lucy Moses School in New York City.  Every year it feels like the hardest work I’ve ever done, but it’s always even more thrilling and joyful as it is exhausting.  My cast is comprised of 15-20 pre-teens (6th-graders, usually).  I didn’t know exactly which children I’d be working with, as some new students join the program and some leave every year, but I had a sense of who was likely to be involved.

In my not-so-private heart, however, I imagined Liz Callaway playing Athena; I heard the song as the grown-up counterpart to her performance of Maltby and Shire’s “The Story Goes On.”

What are you most proud of with this song?

“They Fly” touches audiences a lot–especially, as one might imagine, audiences containing parents.  The day after the original production closed, I received an email from the parents of a student in my cast.  They told me that my young actor was named for her brother, who had tragically died in an accident during his first semester away at college.  Having heard “They Fly,” they told me, they finally felt as if their healing had begun.  I just sat at the computer and cried; I never know what impact a piece might have, but that was beyond my wildest imagining.

What was the most difficult thing about writing this song?

Finding the first line of the lyric.  I don’t usually write lyrics in a linear way; I’ll collect bits and pieces that accumulate into phrases and sections, and organize them into a logical and dramatic progression. Once I found “You can sit by the cradle as they sleep every night,” everything else fell into place.

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

Having been commissioned to write a one-act musical based on a myth, and chosen the story of Icarus, I was casting about to find my “way in” to the story. At a First Communion liturgy at the parish where I work–church music is my “day job”–I looked out at the sea of families, and thought, “Look at all those parents, and none of them will ever be able to make the world as safe for their children as they’d like.”  I won’t say the show wrote itself from that moment, but at least then I realized it was Daedalus’s story I wanted to tell.

Tell us what excites you most about contemporary musical theatre.

For me, the most exciting thing is that the history of this art form proves that we can do anything: no story is off limits, no style of music or form of dramaturgy or method of staging.  The moment when speech turns to song is the most magical thing I know.  And, with so many people writing for the theatre, I’ve never known a more creative–or more supportive!–group of people as the composers, lyricists, and bookwriters I’ve been privileged to meet.

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

Getting the work heard–especially getting it heard more than once–is enormously challenging.  I’ve had a great many premieres, and not nearly so many second productions.

What are you currently working on?

WINDJAMMERS, a coming-of-age musical about a young ship’s captain in his first command of a schooner on the Great Lakes, is being workshopped by American Folklore Theatre in Door County, WI, and scheduled for full production there in 2013. My collaborator Robin Share and I will be spending the fall in rewrites based on the workshop.

LOST IN STATEN ISLAND, a musical based on a true story, received a wonderful and enormously well-received showcase-code production at La MaMa ETC in June. Its bookwriter Richard Sheinmel and I are revising the script and score based on that experience and will be pursuing its next performance opportunity.

SAKURA, D.C., is a one-act musical telling the story of how Washington DC received its famed flowering cherry trees from Japan.  It was premiered as part of this year’s Lucy Moses School Summer Musical Theatre Workshop; I’ll be making post-performance edits to script and score and trying to find a performing organization in Washington that might be interested in making it an annual part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

And I’ve been asked to co-write the score for a production of PUSS IN BOOTS for a theatre in Redmond, Washington–but that project is just a glimmer in the composer’s eye so far!

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

Please visit; I promise to keep it better up-to-date.


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