Featured Five, Vol. 14 – Location! Location! Location!

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


It’s been a long, cold winter here in New York City. So when the warm weather finally arrived, it seemed we all heaved a collective sigh and ran outside. It seemed like something to celebrate. So to honor that spirit of adventure, this month’s Featured Five songs salute those who head out to the great outdoors to explore — even if the vacation is only a mental one. Happy Spring!

Running

From Clouds Are Pillows For The Moon
 
Defoe & Sinutoke
Sinutoke & Defoe
Music by:  Tidtaya Sinutoke
Lyrics by: Ty Defoe
Perfect for: High Belt Mix

 

Running is a song from our show, Clouds are Pillows For The Moon. We wrote this musical when we were attending NYU Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. It’s a coming of age story about teenage Ella Horses, who runs away form her Native American reservation. After the death of her mother, Ella runs away to Chicago. There she meets her kindred best friend, P, a girl from Thailand. Together the girls embark on a right of passage from girlhood to womanhood.

The song Running is Ella’s “I want” song. In this song, she must make the choice whether to leave the reservation. It invokes the essence of power by using what Ella was taught by her family and oral tradition. She metaphorically changes into a wolf and runs to the big city of Chicago.

[Editor’s Note: Clouds Are Pillows For The Moon has been selected for 2014 Yale Institute for Music Theatre and will be directed by Leigh Silverman. ]

For more information click here.

My Own Private Antartica

Matt Patrick Walsh
Matt Patrick Walsh
Music by: Matt Patrick Walsh
Lyrics by: Robert Berliner
Perfect for: Belt Mezzo
 

My Own Private Antarctica was written for an assignment in the first year of the BMI Workshop. Our task was to write a comedy song that would fit seamlessly into a proposed musical adaptation of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America: Millennium Approaches. The song is set in Act III, Scene 3.

It’s January, 1986, and Harper Pitt has finally had enough. For the first time in ages, the agoraphobic, sexually frustrated, valium-addicted Mormon housewife has gone outside. Following the revelation that her long-dispassionate husband is actually homosexual, she’s followed her own drug-induced hallucinations away from her Brooklyn apartment, all the way to Prospect Park, where she finds refuge in the safest, most distant place she can dream up: her “own private Antarctica.”

This song is ideal for a funny, high-energy belter with some real acting chops. We hope you dig it.

For more information, click here.

No One Goes to an Amusement Park Alone

Carmel Dean
Carmel Dean
From Action Park
 
Lyrics by: Sarah Underwood
Music by: Carmel Dean
Perfect for: Belt Tenor
 

This song is from a work-in-progress called Action Park. The character, Jerry, has just followed his unrequited love to a party at an amusement park and tried to follow her onto the log flume, only to be rebuffed and left standing alone to watch all the fun happening around him. The song, while comedic, truly shines when Jerry’s vulnerability and loneliness are allowed to break through.

Note to the performer: It is most effective when it is at its most earnest, and at the same time playing the quirkiness and humor of the lyrics.

For more information click here.

Drive Him Home

Stuart McMeans
Stuart McMeans
Tom Stuart
Tom Stuart

Lyrics by: Stuart McMeans
Music by: Tom Stuart
Perfect for: Broadway Baritone 

Stuart wrote the beautiful melody to this song while spending some time writing in Argentina. He sent me  the melody as a musical idea. For me, it brought up an experience I had as a 16 year old – being in love with my best friend and not being able to express it. I wrote the first draft in a couple of hours I think. It’s a stand alone song and although it has a specific meaning to me, I think it works for males and females and can mean something different depending on the point of view of the singer.

For more information click here.

La La Land

Sam Willmott
Sam Willmott

From Standardized Testing – The Musical!!!!

Music & Lyrics by: Sam Wilmott
Perfect for: Belt Tenor

La La Land is from my first show, Standardized Testing – The Musical!!!!, the story of eight eccentric high-school juniors taking the biggest test of their lives.  As the kids are working, their respective distractions become the sources of internal musical monologues — of which La La Land is an example. Tyler, the singer, is an amalgamation of several real-life friends of mine, and functions as the emotional center of the show.

In terms of performance suggestions, I find that many actors instinctively want to play Tyler as stupid, or careless, or vaguely loopy. I am very, very opposed to these choices.

Test-taking is a skill unto itself and success (I believe) is only peripherally related to the tester’s intelligence — many brilliant people struggle with learning disabilities, and have trouble manifesting their knowledge in an arbitrary series of bubbles.  For them, being unfocused during a test is not a willful act of defiance nor indicative of some kind of adolescent hedonism.  It’s just their truth — a more fragmented (but no less beautiful) way of seeing the world.  The song is funny, but the humor is derived from Tyler’s genuine, honest nature and the gravity of the situation rather than playing for the punchlines.

So, when approaching the song — keep an open heart, live the joy of the daydream, and everything else will fall into place!

For more information click here.

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