Featured Five, Vol. 7 – Exploration

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


There’s something about the nice weather that just makes you want to jump in a porsche, take the top down and drive until you’re out of gas!

Or am I projecting…?

It’s human nature to want to be “over there” when we’re “here.”  This month’s songs all introduce strong characters who describe why they want to explore and, perhaps, what they’re running away from.  All five are superbly written and are worthy of your time.

Wherever this summer takes you, we hope you get a chance to explore something new, near or far!

Dirt Road
Jeff Hardy, Music
Jeff Hardy
Tom Stuart
Tom Stuart
Music: Jeff Hardy
Lyrics: Tom Stuart

Perfect for: Low Voice (Mezzo or Baritone)

“Dirt Road” was written for a piece that Jeff and I have been developing for a while.  It’s a coming-of-age story set in the South in the early 60’s.  This song was written for the lead character – a fourteen year old girl – but Jeff and I went on to rework the original song into something that functioned as a stand-alone, and I’m really happy with the result.  It’s about feeling trapped in a small world and needing desperately to escape to a better life.

For more information, click here.

Adam Overett
Adam Overett
from Make Me Famous
Music & Lyrics: Adam Overett

Perfect for: High Belt/Mix

“Drive” is from a show called Make Me Famous, a screwball comedy about a pop star, a wannabe pop star, and a kidnapping gone wrong. In this scene, a kidnapped pop princess is being guarded by a guy who has the hots for her, and it quickly becomes clear who’s really in control. The thing about the pop princess is that she’s desperately unhappy in her career — she’s seen the darker sides of fame and would rather be anonymous, free to be herself. In writing this moment, it seemed to me that this character would sing a country song — not only is this a country theme (breaking free, hitting the open road), but I also think country is a kind of guilty pleasure for many pop fans, so it seemed fitting that this would be a part of her that’s truer to her real self, but that she’d kept hidden. While working on the song, I listened to a lot of my favorite country tunes to use as models, like LeAnn Rimes’s “One Way Ticket,” Rascal Flatts’ “Life Is A Highway,” and especially Jo Dee Messina’s “Heads Carolina, Tails California.”

For more information, click here.

Andy Monroe
Andy Monroe
from Drive
Music & Lyrics by: Andy Monroe

Perfect for: Bass-Baritone

The idea for my musical, Drive, came while I was in the middle of writing a different show altogether.  But the characters and their situations announced themselves so clearly and desperately (and loudly and repeatedly) that I had little choice but to put aside what I had been working on and give them my full attention.  I believe this, the title song, was the first one written for the project.  It is also the opening song of the show.  In it, Ellis, a family man, is speeding along the freeway at night.

The demo recording for “Drive” was sung by the ever-beautiful [Directory member] Tom Stuart!

For more information, click here.

Ben Bonnema
Ben Bonnema
Arianna Rose
Arianna Rose
from The Lost Girl
Music: Ben Bonnema
Lyrics: Arianna Rose

Perfect for: Legit Tenor

“Flying” is from the musical The Lost Girl, which follows the Darling Siblings – Wendy, Michael, John, and the Lost Boy Tootles – twenty-five years after their long-forgotten experiences in Neverland.   Each sibling has been indelibly stamped by their interactions with Peter Pan and what has occurred in the ensuing years.  Within their childhood memories lie the clues for creating a happy adulthood and deepening their relationships with one another.  In “Flying”, Michael Darling, now aged 30, recounts a persistent dream of flying.  To him, however, it feels much like a memory, and although he has not remembered Peter Pan, he knows someone was in the memory with him.   “Flying” propels Michael into remembering his fantastical experiences and serves as a meditation on the joys of feeling limitless.

For more information, click here.

Hittin’ the Road
Russ Kaplan
Russ Kaplan
Sara Wordsworth
Sara Wordsworth
from The Do-Over
Music: Russ Kaplan
Lyricist: Sara Wordsworth

Perfect for: Belt Mezzo

“Hittin The Road” is one of the first songs we’ve written for our in-progress musical dark comedy The Do-Over, which we’re writing with playwright Daniel John Kelley.  Daniel came up with the basic premise about two years ago, and we spent over a year tinkering with the story outline before we finally got down to writing some songs!  The play tells the story of Bethany Clearwater, a young single mom who tries to reclaim her lost youth by locking up her teenage daughter and going to High School in her place.  The year is 1998, and at the start of the play Bethany and Belinda have just moved to Big Lake, Minnesota, where the rebellious Belinda is under court order to attend the prison-like Big Lake Tertiary High School (or else she’ll wind up in a REAL jail).  Belinda, however, naturally has other plans…

For more information, click here.


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