2013 TOP 25 SONGS – Volume 5

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

__________________

We have come to our last five Top 25 Songs, chosen by our wonderful celebrity guest judges (read more about that here). We hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know these songs and the writers behind them. But the list doesn’t stop here: please be sure to visit our website for many more wonderful songs that represent the best of today’s musical theatre landscape!

****

Sweet Dreams

Music & Lyrics: John Bucchino
 
John Bucchino
John Bucchino

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

“Sweet Dreams” was not written for a musical. I was living in Santa Monica, and happened to be in Hollywood, walking on Hollywood Blvd. A bus pulled up and a young man and a young woman got off, carrying large backpacks which looked as if they contained their whole lives. The image stuck with me, and I went home and wrote the song.

What are you most proud of with this song?

I like the simple “Stephen Foster-like” melody, and I especially like the ending.

What was the most difficult thing about writing this song?

I don’t recall any aspect being difficult. It poured out easily.

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

I didn’t plan the last line – maybe my favorite last line I’ve ever written. I wrote the way I always write: letting the song lead me forward, and it led to this pleasant surprise of an ending that was so much better than anything I could have planned.

Tell us what excites you most about contemporary musical theatre.

When the writing has a high level of craft combined with something fresh and surprising – either the subject matter, the perspective, the production elements – and when it makes me feel deeply.

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

Commerce vs. Art, how rarely they coincide, and how tragically often Commerce waylays Art.

What are you currently working on?

A Danish commissioned musical called Esaura. We’re getting ready for our first full production, in Fredericia, Denmark (in Danish, though we wrote it in English.) It will be directed by Broadway’s Susan Schulman, and orchestrated by the wonderful Bruce Coughlin. We open on Sept. 19th, and I’m very excited about the piece. It’s been a joyful collaboration, and I think we’ve made something quite beautiful.

I’m also finishing up a second solo piano recording – of improvisations on Beatle songs.

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

I keep thinking I’ll update my website with new info, but I just don’t do it. I’m much more active on my Facebook pages.

For more information on this song, click here.

Thirstier for Miracles

Music & Lyrics: Masi Asare
 
Masi Asare
Masi Asare

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

This is a song for the character Anne from the episodic, multimedia rock project The Best, conceived and directed by Eamonn Farrell for the Anonymous Ensemble. The episodes of The Best follow the participants in an illegal reality show as they progress from wide-eyed dreamers to hard-edged revolutionaries.  Along the way they grapple with realizing just how high the stakes can be, and not all of them are prepared to risk everything for the cause. When one contestant, Paul, drops out of the group, his bereft girlfriend Anne (the Antigone character) uses her solo segment on the show to lament his departure and declare her strengthened resolve to reach for the ideals of The Best, if only because she has nothing else to hold onto.

I was listening to a lot of alt country at the time I wrote this song, so it has that feel, and the lyrics gesture to the mythical side of The Best’s origins in Greek tragedy (a lot of influence from 7 Against Thebes, Antigone, Oedipus).

What are you most proud of with this song?

I’m probably most proud of the lyrics, which were inspired by work that came out of a text generation exercise we used to do with the Anonymous Ensemble, which we called “catswrite” –named after one of the poems that it sparked. The ensemble would sit around in a circle and everyone was assigned a part of speech (for example: article+adjective+noun +verb+noun+adverb.) We’d all close our eyes and inhale together, and on the exhale breath, we’d go around the circle quickly and everyone would say a word, and it would make sentences. Strange, beautiful sentences. One person would be the scribe and write it down. The lyric of this song is inspired by some of the strange poetic text that came out of that process. For other songs, I set the text directly, which made it a bit more avant-garde, but for this song I used the texture of the kinds of words that emerged from a certain session. Fun.

What was the most difficult thing about writing this song?

See the answer above!

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

It needs some power. Sounds all pretty at the beginning but it needs a bit of heartbreak as you go on. Sung very beautifully in the original New York cast and in the production that toured to Australia (as well as the recording) by Janelle Lannan.

Tell us what excites you most about contemporary musical theatre.

We have so many more sounds at our disposal nowadays, we can write any kind of music and still attach it to the incredible engine that a musical theatre structure provides. Those old-fashioned shows are built like tanks–they are structurally amazing. Now we have the opportunity to learn from those great classic shows, but write for different kinds of sounds, different kinds of characters, especially more expansive roles for women and people of color.

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

Ha! So many things. This business is not for the faint of heart. Writing takes a long time, you can’t be in a rush. But when you have a song you love, and you hear it beautifully sung, well there’s nothing like that feeling. That’s the only reason to do it, really.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently writing a new musical inspired by stories of my west African grandmother, currently untitled. You can hear some songs here: http://soundcloud.com/masiasare/sets/valentina-project-demo

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

Visit my website: www.masiasare.com and follow me on www.soundcloud.com/masiasare.

Listen to the song here.  For more information on this song, click here.

Time Does Not Bring Relief

Music: Carmel Dean
Poem: Edna St. Vincent Millay
Carmel Dean
Carmel Dean
Edna St. Vincent Millay
Edna St. Vincent Millay

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

It’s from my song cycle of Edna St. Vincent Millay poetry, A Girl Called Vincent.

What are you most proud of with this song?

That this was the first composition for voice that I’d ever written, and I had no idea what I was doing! It was part of the application for the NYU Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. I took a stab at it and I guess because the poem really spoke to me, it was easy finding the music for it.

What was the most difficult thing about writing this song?

Having NO idea if I was on the right track, and not having anyone to really sing it for me until much later!

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

Because setting this poem is part of the application for the NYU Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program, there are DOZENS of versions floating around Youtube (and the real world). It’s fascinating to listen to different composers’ interpretations of the text!

Tell us what excites you most about contemporary musical theatre.

That we are at a crossroads of musical styles within musical theatre! Musicals no longer have ONE “Broadway” sound. Composers and lyricists are drawing from so many musical styles and genres, and that is resulting in such a wide variety of music being used to tell stories.

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

Finding time to write! When you are starting out as a composer, nobody is paying you to sit at home and write! You have to be incredibly disciplined about carving out writing time whilst you are making a living doing non-writing jobs! Luckily I’m also a musical director and I get to work with amazing people on amazing projects, so I am always inspired by by peers and colleagues.

What are you currently working on?

The York Theatre is doing a reading of my song cycle of Edna St Vincent Millay poems, A Girl Called Vincent, in a few weeks. I have a great cast of Broadway performers on board, and Dick Scanlan (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Everyday Rapture) is directing!

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

My website: www.carmeldean.com.

For more information on this song, click here.

Who I Am

Music & Lyrics: Jonathan Monro
 
Jonathan Monro
Jonathan Monro

What are you most proud of with this song?

I am proud that it seems to make its point, and that people relate to it.

What was the most difficult thing about writing this song?

I wanted to write something about artists and the fear of success rather than failure – without comparing myself to Vincent Van Gogh. Tying his truth into my truth into a universal truth took some time.

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

You can replace the name “Jonny” with your own name and make it personal.

Tell us what excites you most about contemporary musical theatre.

The extraordinary people I am lucky enough to meet and work with. They make this business magical.

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

The “investment hours” vs. the “profit hours”. I wish everyone who worked hard was paid accordingly.

What are you currently working on?

5 musicals, 1 TV show.

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

Visit my website: www.jonathanmonro.com

Listen to the song here (at the bottom of the page).  For more information on this song, click here.

Winter, Wait for Me

Music & Lyrics: Will Reynolds
 
Will Reynolds
Will Reynolds

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

“Winter, Wait For Me” was the first song written for a musical about Alice from Alice in Wonderland, picking up the story when she returns to her all girls school, in the fall after her experience down the rabbit hole.  Then all of a sudden all these Alice projects started popping up – the new movie, Wonderland on B’way…it felt like it wasn’t the right timing.  But the song was written for the incredible Sara Jean Ford (Christine in Phantom, Smitty in H2$, A Little Night Music…) she used in a cabaret we first collaborated on at Davenport’s in Chicago then a year later at the Metropolitan Room in NYC.  The song is now a part of my song cycle, Poems & Moon Songs.  Reduce.  Reuse. re(song)cycle.  The song is about that fear or unwillingness to accept change – and for Alice, everything changed upon her return to the real world.

What are you most proud of with this song?

That it was written almost entirely on the 35 minute drive from downtown Chicago (where I was onstage in Mamma Mia! at the time) and my hometown, Western Springs.  Suddenly it was Winter – a lot of change was in the air, and I wasn’t ready.  So I wrote about it,  through Alice’s eyes.

What was the most difficult thing about writing this song?

Keeping it active and avoiding sticky sentiment traps.  But maybe that’s every ballad.

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

There is a “bird” chirping in the accompaniment.

Tell us what excites you most about contemporary musical theatre.

That people want to do it!  That the writers, the actors, and the audience and are taking the same leap together at the same time.

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

The hours. 🙂

What are you currently working on?

I just finished my fellowship at the Dramatist Guild, working with lyricist/book writer Eric Price on an original musical called Radioactive based on the romance between Marie and Pierre Curie and the discovery of Radium.  We were selected for the Rhinebeck Writer’s Retreat where we will spend a week upstate to continue developing the material, and there will be a presentation of a except from the show presented by the Dramatist Guild, Sept. 9th at Playwrights Horizons.  Along with Radioactive, my song cycle Poems & Moon Songs will be produced next in the fall by Penn State University, and I had the honor of Audra McDonald recording “Tavern” for her latest album, Go Back Home.

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

On my website – www.willreynoldsonline.com and @willcreynolds on Twitter.  I hope to hear from you!

For more information on this song, click here.

____________________________________

Please subscribe to our blog. Enter your email address on the top left side of the page and click “Follow” and sign up for our email list.

Visit www.contemporarymusicaltheatre.com for more information on over 180 contemporary musical theatre writers and 550+ songs, all searchable by voice and song type.

.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s