Sunday, November 18, 2007

La, la, laaaaaa

I sing regularly with the NYU Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program (GMTWP). It was one of the things I missed the most being in LA. This is a 2 year program with about 30 people per class who study with Bill Finn (Falsettos, A New Brain), Mel Marvin (Elmer Gantry, How the Grinch Stole Christmas), Fred Carl, and my friend, Rob Hartmann, among others. For their first year and thesis projects, the school hires professionals, often people who are on Broadway regularly, to come in and perform their pieces as a reading. It allows the students to get used to writing for the real deal and see if their work is actually functional. Many amazing people and projects come out of this program. The most recent is The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, on which grad Rachel Sheinkin and Bill Finn collaborated.

Rob and I met, um, mumble years ago doing summer stock in Montana at Bigfork Summer Playhouse. This is a fabulous, non-union company which hires really strong triple threats and does 4 shows in rep. Not everyone was the best dancer (hello!) or actor, but everyone had a fantastic voice. I think about 80% of us were vocal majors at our respective schools, the rest were theatre majors. I was a totally different person then (super self-involved and a bit of a diva...I am SO different now!) but I do have 2 or 3 lasting friendships from the two summers I was there.

Rob went to the NYU program and is now adjunct faculty in addition to consistently working on his own fabulous works. Last week, I helped do a recording of a song from a new musical he's working on, Stand Clear, set on a subway car. It's an ensemble piece with tight harmonies (and I'm singing the middle part) but it's a good idea of the stuff I work on regularly. Check it out, Commuter's Prayer, Steph Lynge is also on this, she is a fellow Bigfork alum. The rest of the songs are great too (check out the previous link).

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