Hilltop Diary, June 21, 2021

Please forgive me for taking almost a month to write here again, as my musical theater show, Dear Miss Barrett, has been in the throws of production. First there were  “table readings”, people sitting around a table reading their parts from the script with interruptions along the way to discuss together the context in the story, motives, attitudes, and characterization of those lines. This was led by our director, but I played an important role in explaining the backstories and historical references for the Brownings and what my intentions were, as the author.

Then we separated into scenes and groups of characters to work on them separately under the superb direction and organization of the director, as the actors also worked privately on memorizing their lines. Over the course of a few weeks, also, I think I pretty much personally coached each of the thirteen actors (several of whom play two roles) individually on many of their speaking and singing parts, and I got to know and appreciate each of them and their wonderful, complementary array of talents.

However, it was the show’s fantastic music director who led group music rehearsals and also helped individuals learn their singing parts. Two choreographers led dance rehearsals masterfully for the many scenes with dance. The costumer and prop master did a fabulous job with set and production details. The lighting designer and the sound master (also controlling all those head microphones on all the cast) also added a great deal. The printed program came together, along with ticket sales – in other word, so many details and people that are involved in mounting a show. It is truly a team effort.

In Praise of Community Theater

The cast were all pro’s and quick learners and were completely ready and even polished on opening night. Audience reaction has been very gratifying, and the audience got fuller at each performance as word of mouth spread people’s enthusiasm. They laughed at all the jokes and cried at the sad parts. They cheered and stood at the end and gave glowing remarks to all of us, saying how they loved it all. Whew! There may be a review in the next few days, which I will add to this post, if it does come out. Here is a pdf of my article about it and about community theater in general in The Epoch Times:

It has been a wonderful experience for me to enjoy with this family of thespians. Crystal will be starting rehearsals for another show at another theater, again in a lead role, just a few days after this one closes. So her life in the theater goes on, while mine will return squarely back to what feels to me like my safer home turf of classical music. But by all accounts I didn’t do badly as a playwright and composer; what a great experience. We will have a professional film of the show to use for other theaters to consider producing, and I’ll continue shepherding it along those potential paths and see where it might lead — I wouldn’t turn down a Broadway run, of course, but I certainly don’t count on that happening and don’t have any new shows planned.

I am getting very kind comments from people who want to dream on my behalf of “making it on Broadway” but I must confess and be clear that this is not, nor has ever been, my ambition. I want to be remembered as a classical composer who wrote ten great symphonies (if possible), and who very much enjoyed writing one respectable musical theater show and a book or two. You can click on the “symphony” link at the top of the page to hear a mockup of my new second symphony that will be recorded in 2022 and hear my heart and emotion every bit as much in that music.

Life at home also goes on with work watering and tending the garden, mowing the lawn, fixing a broken toilet, cooking, and all those duties of life we all have. This next weekend we are very excited that we will have out of town friends coming for the show, as well as family. A musical theater show does make a truly celebratory occasion!

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