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REB+VoDKa+LOVE!

Back row: Cast members Lily Lester, Jackie Colquitt, Adam Lawrence & Jack Brinsmaid, Lighting Designer Charlotte Seelig, Me, Dramaturg Megan McClain, Director Ben Kamine; Middle row: Cast members Sam Paley, Katie Rodgers, Jessica Fisher, Danny Saulle & Angelina Kelly, and Composer Julia Meinwald; Front row: Choreographer Tara Forseth, Cast members Allie Lian & Holly Gould, Music Director Rich Silverstein; Not pictured: Cast member Angela Pardini-Gomez, Set Designer BP Houle, Costume Designer Lux Haac, Stage Manager Lindsay Kipnis, ASM Tara King, Sound Designer Neal Goleta, and Production Coordinator Brandon Anderson.

The workshop of REB+VoDKa+ME at NYU that performed this past weekend was one of the most intensely rewarding experiences I’ve had as a writer.

It’s been a little over 3 years since I sent Julia links to these two related articles and was like “Don’t think I’m a scary person but could this be our next musical?” and she basically said “You’re not scary and yes.” Two years ago, we started writing the show with director Ben Kamine in R&D Group, led by dramaturg-extraordinaire Megan McClain. A year-and-a-half ago Rich Silverstein came on board when we shared our first 16 songs from the show in public. And five months ago we finished a first draft of the script.

And this weekend the show was given a fully designed and produced workshop staging with a cast of amazing juniors and seniors from the New Studio on Broadway at NYU/Tisch. To call this opportunity a gift is an understatement – we wrote a show that doesn’t exist in a physical space and by not being bound by music stands we were able to learn more than we ever could have imagined about our work.

Much credit for that goes to our amazing creative and design team (partially pictured here) for helping us to develop our own world and our own physical language to make the 90-minutes of the show a complete thought.

And we could never have seen our work as fully as we were able to without the willingness, openness, depth, and hard work of the twelve students in the cast. They navigated this technically, musically, and emotionally complex piece with the kind of grace and heart we couldn’t have imagined when we first had the idea three years ago.

Immense thanks are due to Kent Gash, Sarah Schlesinger, and Brandon Anderson for inviting us into this collaborative process. Be on the lookout for some production photos in the near future!

The Magnificent Seven Demos!

I’m so happy to get to share all 13 of the songs we’ve written so far for The Magnificent Seven as we dive back into finishing a full draft of the show with MTF this year!

Thanks to our magnificent singers (Ally Bonino, Emily Jenda, Caitlin Kinnunen, Marina Kondo, Amy Linden, Ellen Macy, and Emily Walton), our magnificent special guests (Lynne Marie Rosenberg and Keith Rubin), our magnificent band (Geremy Schulick, Carl Limbacher, and Jeremy Yaddaw), our magnificent engineer Chris Gilroy, and our perfect ten MD/collaborator Rich Silverstein for making this all happen.

We can wait to write and record the next batch!

San Diego, part 2

Our week in San Diego came to a close with a reading of the show on Saturday afternoon. It was so wonderful to get to hear the new draft (with four new songs and a bunch of new pages) and to get to know the wonderful people of Diversionary!

Thanks to our cast (L-R in the photo) Lauren King Thompson, Susan Hammons, Allison Spratt Pearce, Sam Heldt, Chase Hauser, and Adam Cuppy; thanks to music director Patrick Marion, who guided these six wonderful actors through more than 20 songs in about that many hours; thanks to stage manager Kira Vine for keeping us together; thanks to the whole staff at Diversionary (Jenny, Sebastian, Skyler, David, and Anthony) for welcoming us and making us feel at home; and big thanks to Artistic Director Matt Morrow for bringing us out and guiding the show towards the spring. We can’t wait to head back and start rehearsals in six short months!

San Diego, part 1

After almost a year of planning, we have finally arrived in San Diego to workshop The Loneliest Girl in the World with Diversionary Theatre!

Julia and I are spending the week here to hear the show, meet the team, and get the lay of the land before our production in the spring. Diversionary has put together such a great group for our week here, with Artistic Director Matt Morrow at the helm with music director Patrick Marion. Perennial favorite (and perennial Tommy) Sam Heldt has made the journey with us to join a cast that includes San Diegans Allison Spratt Pearce, Adam Cuppy, Susan Hammons, Chase Hauser, and Lauren King Thompson.

I’m so excited to spend the week putting the pieces together with these wonderful folks (and the palm trees, sunshine, and hummingbirds)!

Back to the factory!

Julia and I are happy to be back with the Musical Theatre Factory for a second year of their writers group. After a successful year last year finishing our first draft of REB+VoDKa+ME (which we can’t wait to share at NYU in November, see below!) we’re excited to devote this year to getting a full draft of The Magnificent Seven written! Our group includes writer friends old and new, run by the wonderful folks at Beehive Dramaturgy Studio. We can’t wait to journey back to 1996 Atlanta!

Choreomania goes uptown

About 5 years after writing our first song for it, Julia and I are finally going to get to work on Choreomania!

We’re joining the inaugural class of The Collective, a new program in the 92nd Street Y’s Harkness Dance Center Music Theatre Development Lab. The Collective brings together performance makers from across the spectrum – writers, composers, directors, choreographers, and hyphenates of the above – to explore new works of music theatre and dance. After spending so many years primarily behind music stands, we’re thrilled to get to begin to imagine a work in an environment that encourages us to consider movement as an integral part of the storytelling process. It’ll challenge us in the most exciting way!

Choreomania will explore the Dancing Plague of 1518, in which hundreds of people spent the summer dancing uncontrollably and inexplicably in the streets of France. The event is now understood to be the earliest recorded instance of mass hysteria (thanks to the invention of the printing press.) It’s about the search of explanations to the unexplainable, the fear and allure of the unknown, and the power of a crowd.

Give our first song, “I’m Moving” – sung by Frau Troffea, the dancing plague’s originator – a listen while we get ready to dive into the 16th century!

REB+VoDKa+ME @ NYU

After finishing a draft of the show at the Yale Institute for Music Theatre this summer, REB+VoDKa+ME will get up on its feet for the first time this fall! The Tisch New Musical Theatre Workshop, a collaboration between NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program and New Studio on Broadway, will present a workshop production of the show for four performances, November 17-19.

Julia and I are excited to be once again working with director Benjamin Kamine and music director Rich Silverstein on the project. And special thanks to GMTWP’s Sarah Schlesinger and NSB’s Kent Gash for the opportunity to work with students to bring the show to life!

Check back here for casting (after next week’s auditions) and ticket info in the coming weeks…

Pregnancy Pact @ The Edge Productions

Julia and I got back this morning from seeing Pregnancy Pact in Windsor, Ontario, produced by The Edge Productions at The Rondo. It was such a moving experience on so many levels – so amazing to see the show again (it’s been 3 years since 54 Below…), so wonderful to be flooded with memories of all the remarkable people whose hearts are in every moment of it, and beyond incredible to see strangers (now friends) take our work and bring it to vivid life. It felt like a really defining moment in my journey as a writer, and I’m so grateful!

My immense thanks go to the superstars in this picture for their dedication to our show (clockwise from the top left): Shayla Hudson (Jeanelle), Rebecca Lashmar (Jenn), Avonlea Smith (Kaylee), Samantha Bourque (Maddie), Janine Marley (Assistant Director), Sean Sennett (Cory/Justin), Nathaniel Cedroni (Set Designer), Sam Poole (Music Director), me, Julia, Olivia Ridpath (Sansanee), Miriam Goldstein (Director), Miranda DiPietro (Brynn), and Morgan Corbett-Collins (Stage Manager.)

Videos from the Feinstein’s/54 Below concert are now online! Watch the whole 17 song playlist above (starting with the finale, of course.)

Thanks to all who came up/down/in/over to that midtown basement to share the evening with us. Thanks to Jennifer Ashley Tepper and the whole 54 Below staff for inviting us to kick off this wonderful (and ongoing!) series. And thanks, especially, to our 26 singers, actors, and musicians for bringing so much of our work to life!

Canada is about to get pregnant!

I’m so excited that Pregnancy Pact is being produced by The Edge Productions in Windsor, Ontario next month! Directed by Miriam Goldstein, the production runs August 14-17 at The Rondo. I’m so sad to have to miss the production – it’s such a strange and new feeling to know that my work is being performed without me there! – but anybody who’s in the Windsor/Detroit area should go and check it out… And then give me a full update!

54 Singers at 54 Below!

Just kidding, it’s only 18 (and a 6-piece band.) But that’s a whole lot of our favorite singers joining us for our Feinstein’s/54 Below concert on Sunday, July 30 at 7pm!

Delaney Amatrudo, Ally Bonino, Sojourner Brown, Max Chernin, Molly Hager, Sam Heldt, Emily Jenda, Marina Kondo, Kelsey Lake, Amy Linden, Ellen Condon Macy, Evan Maltby, Allison Posner, Allie Sandler, Libby Servais, Johnny Shea, Phoebe Strole, and Allie Trimm are going to bring you tunes from REB+VoDKa+MESomething Blue, and The Magnificent Seven!

We’re so excited to have so many faces we love (both new and familiar) on stage with us! Get your tickets now to celebrate their wonderfulness with us! (And use the code JMGL5 to get $5 off the cover for the main dining room…)

New Haven is for First Drafts!

Julia and I had a wonderfully productive in our two week Alumni Residency at the Yale Institute for Music Theatre, and came back to New York with a full draft of REB+VoDKa+ME! (You can see the whole thing mapped on our apartment wall in this photo…) It’s such a great feeling to have a whole draft of the show and to have been able to flesh out all the work we accomplished with R&D Group and MTF. All we need to do now is share it with the world! (And then rewrite it, of course.)

Not only did we get a draft out of it, but we also got to know some of our new very favorite writers! I’m so impressed and amazed by the work that Annie Tippe, Molly Beach Murphy, Jeanna Phillips, Brett Macias, and Christina Quintana accomplished on Cowboy Bob and GUMBO. And getting to see actors I’ve always loved like Alison Fraser, Andrea Jones-Sojola, and Trent Armand Kendall (and new favorites like Eddie Cooper and Lizan Mitchell) put their all in these new works made me giddy.

Thanks to Mark Brokaw, Kay Perdue, and the whole Institute staff for giving us this opportunity!

Return to 54 Below!

Julia and I are so happy to have been invited back to Feinstein’s/54 Below to kick off their NEW WRITERS AT 54 summer series on Sunday, July 30 at 7pm. We’re thrilled to have the chance to share songs from REB + VoDKa + MESomething Blue, and The Magnificent Seven all in one night!

We’re also excited/honored to be among friends in the series like Sam Salmond, Alexander Sage Oyen, Katie Thompson, and the newly announced Sukari Jones & Troy Anthony!

Tickets are on sale now. (There’s even a discount if you buy a tickets to three or more shows in the series…) Check back here for more updates in the coming weeks!