Sunday 29 April 2018


What inspired this musical project, and what sustains it, is how moved I feel by the elements of musical theatre.
A digression: In 1967 or so, Duke Ellington took his orchestra into the studio to re-record tunes written by his long-time collaborator, Billy Strayhorn, who had just died. The resulting LP, And His Mother Called Him Bill, is a classic. It includes one track recorded at the end of one session when Duke sat down at the piano to play "Lotus Blossom." The tape was still running. We can hear musicians chatting and packing up their horns. By the end of the tune, a poignant ballad, they'd stopped as is transfixed by Duke's musical eulogy to their old mate.
I was reminded of that moment the other day when I sat in on the first day of rehearsals for Shrek at Globe Theatre. The actor playing Shrek was working his songs with the Musical Director. They faced each other, the MD at his keyboard. The actor with his beautiful baritone voice was struggling but making progress with "Big, Bright, Beautiful World," Shrek's brave but uncertain claim on something new in his future. As always in rehearsals I've witnessed, everyone else--the other actors, stage management, the designers--was busy with his/her own job. And here, in a corner of the room, was an actor and character emerging and vulnerable. In song. The moment was irresistible. 
(Here's Duke playing "Lotus Blossom." Because he flubbed a note or two, he later re-recorded the piece, but this initial, spontaneous version is the better one.)

Monday 23 April 2018

Oak Floors, the Musical

I'm back to that title. Not that it matters too much right now. (Imagine writing two sentences like that when I'm in a hurry before the Leafs game to get to the memos.)
Some people, including characters in this story, who rent apartments, worry about condo conversion. Benign apartment owners may brush off any queries with a "don't worry, it's not worth it for us." But when it is, look out. 
Accordingly, I've had the idea to inject a series of memos into the stream of scenes. These would be "read" by the flaneur during interludes--five or six of them?--between scenes. I haven't figured out the best way to do this. Next I'm going to try writing a continuous memo narrative which I'll later break down. The other elements here are the soft-shoe the flaneur performs along hallways, props appearing or disappearing as required. And his chants, as in "This is the way we move here, here. This is the way." And percussion, in one interlude nothing BUT percussion. 
Of course, I'm going to write these memos in memo-ese, borrowing freely from by-laws pertaining to condo conversion. As I say, I haven't yet worked out the tone of voice. 
Anyway, the memo content is meant to inject some real-world stakes to the psycho-social meanderings of the characters.
Oh yes, one of the memos promises the imminent revelation of the Amenities Room, where it all comes together . . .