FESTIVAL COUNTDOWN: On the Record

Cross-posted from “Musical Notes ♫ Official blog of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre

About fifteen years ago when I graduated from the NYU Graduate Musical Theatre Writing program, I was faced with the reality of what I would do for a living. I had some recording equipment and thought that perhaps I could start a recording studio. When I met my partner, Brent Lord, who had the technical knowledge, we formed a company which later became FatLab Music. We specialized in recording demos for music theatre writers and performers.

When I began writing The Protagonists with my collaborator, Kevin Del Aguila, the question was how do we record our show to convey the different stylistic choices we created for our world. The Protagonists contains a world of
funk, classic pop and epic superhero music. It’s difficult to showcase this on just a piano. So as Kevin and I were writing, I built the song tracks using the many tools of my trade to create the demo that we have today.

As far as the vocals go, we invited our actors in separately and recorded them one at a time which gave us more flexibility during the mixing process. And because it’s our own space, we have the leisure of taking the time we need since we’re not on the clock at another studio.

Regarding the use of instruments, real or sampled, I always ask the question “Can a listener understand the world of the show with just a piano?” Believe me, I would prefer the ease of doing a demo with just piano and vocals. But when the style of the show is also a character, I think that the extra time and effort is definitely worthwhile.

So here we are, demo in hand, about to showcase The Protagonists at NAMT. We are very thankful for this opportunity. I have to admit, my favorite thing is being in the recording studio, and I’m very excited to share our demo with everyone.

“Trilogy” to be premiered at upcoming TC-GMC concert

This March, the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus will premiere my newest choral work, “Trilogy” — comprised of three settings of texts by Tony Kushner. The last of the three movements, “I Want More Life”, was premiered April 2009 by the TC-GMC in conjunction with the Guthrie Theatre’s Tony Kushner Festival launch.

The first movement of “Trilogy” is “It Is Very Simple” (text from Homebody/Kabul) and the second is “There Is A Little House In Heaven” (text from Hydriotaphia, or the Death of Dr. Browne). This commission was graciously underwritten by TC-GMC Board Chair Jeffrey Bores and his partner, Michael Hawkins.

Performances are March 26-27, 2010 at Ted Mann Concert Hall in Minneapolis. I will be attending both concerts and participating in post-concert question and answer sessions with TC-GMC Artistic Director Dr. Stan Hill.

Related:

Frankie is a Shaieb

Frankie is a Yellow Lab… who doesn’t like car rides or swimming. We think it’s because she has an ear thing which makes her get car sick, and hates getting water in her ears. She tries to keep her head way up when she swims which makes her butt sink. We take her swimming every Saturday morning to help her elbow, which she had a problem with when she was a puppy. Since she’s not the best swimmer, we find it helps for her to wear a life vest and a neck float. So embarrassing! (It kills me, so hilarious – We love her 🙂 .)

Frankie is Lab??? Nope - she's a Shaieb!  Right, Lynn?

Frankie is Lab??? Nope – she’s a Shaieb! Right, Lynn?

I have a theory that “Shaiebs sink” … and Frankie is definitely a Shaieb.

No, Brent, Finale doesn’t Suck – it Blows.

Have you ever had a car in high school that was being kept together by the rust? Where duct tape is a design element for the torn upholstery … and you have to keep a window open wide enough to stick your arm in and unlock the door because the key won’t work properly.

Yes. That’s Finale – and that’s my story, I’m sticking to it.

In The Studio

We are almost finished recording the cast in our studio. Thought I would share a few pictures that we took with Marc Kudisch, Andy Karl, Michael Marcotte & Lisa Howard. We record our singers in the room known as our bedroom, usually with a lab or two on the bed watching. (Sometimes snoring – it’s not unusual for a singer to stop a take and say: ‘… um, your dog is snoring”).

Just one of the perks of recording at FatLab Music!

Back in the Studio recording “The Protagonists” demo

Last year I started working with bookwriter/lyricist Kevin Del Aguila on a new musical called The Astonishing Return Of The Protagonists about middle-aged superheroes trying to recapture past glories. This past week we’ve been in the studio recording demos of the first three songs, and the cast we’ve assembled is amazing and sounds fantastic.

We’re still waiting to find our Eagle Woman!