Tuesday 30 October 2018

Workshop Pitch

I sent this out to seven actors this morning . . .

Hi ______
I’d like to hire you to join six other actors and me to a table read/workshop of my musical called Oak Floors! The session will happen Saturday, December 8, 1:00-5:00 at the Frontenac apartment, 2022 Lorne Street. I offer you $75 and my hospitality (snacks, beverages) for your work.
Some background: I’ve become addicted to musical theatre and for the past 15 months have been writing a musical as a way of understanding why I love them so. First draft is now completed. It needs to get out of my head and into the voices of talented actors like you. So we’ll run the piece, stopping as required. Spoken only, no singing (though I’ll have a keyboard on hand in case you want to hear what I have in mind for melody and groove—yes, groove!—of each song).
I’ll be a host and guide, not a Director. What I want to find out is how the characters sit with you when you play them, what your sense is of who they are.
Of course, I’m terrified at the prospect of showing the piece to such vets as you guys, but it will be a great help in moving the piece along past this first draft.
A word about the piece itself. It involves seven people (actually six and a kind of spirit figure) who live in a heritage apartment. They seem to be exploring love in a time of loneliness, or the other way around. The building itself is like a character with a past, present, future, like its residents. It’s a light-ish piece, at times playful, at times more serious.
I hope this invitation interests you. If it does, please let me know and I’ll deliver a script. Then we’ll meet on December 8 and go at it.
Thanks very much for considering the invitation. I’d be happy to answer questions if you have any.
With best wishes for the autumn and beyond,
Gerry Hill

So far, three enthusiastic "yes" and one enthusiastic "I'm in a show in Saskatoon but I'd drive down if you switched the workshop to a Monday."

Sunday 14 October 2018

An American in Paris, the Musical

I saw it last night but nearly didn't bother, remembering the Kelly/Caron film I could never quite get through. This stage musical, filmed in the West End 4 years ago, was something else--its book based on, but so much richer than, the 60+-year-old movie.

Every scene was symphonic in scope. For instance, the iconic "I Got Rhythm"--I forgot to mention, songs by the Gershwins--swelled and subsided over and over, each peak surpassing, unbelievably, the one before.

Remember after viewing La La Land and thinking, Yeah, nice movie but I wish they'd used real dancers? Well this show had real dancers. And 200 other people at the top of their games. Watch those set pieces, panels and projections ease us swiftly from moment to moment, to name just one brilliant element of this work.

And you can see the dancers sweat.

Friday 12 October 2018

Music Direction

Imagine my thrill, dear Reader, as I sat across from a young composer/arranger/musician in the pub last night while he perused the 19 songs of Oak Floors! Being a pro, he was able to pick up melodies with a quick scan. I heard his faint whistle under the pub din.
He's going to orchestrate one song of his choice (from the show) so we can each see/hear how it works. He might be prepared to take on the total score, which would take several months, at AFofM scale, amounting to a thousand or two dollars.
I'm not worried about the money at this point. The fact that he's working with the material is enough. That's just my perspective, of course. Unless/Until he falls in love with the show, he'll expect payment for his work, which is the way I want it too in the long run.
It will be fun to see which song he chooses. I feel great about the chances of work we both dig. He's jazz guy, composer, and experienced sideman, and he's played in the pit band to touring musicals like Chicago and Gypsy.
So I'm on hiatus for a week or so from Oak Floors! except for, oh yes, plans for hiring seven local actors for a table read, no singing, of the show. We could do that right here in the Frontenac.
I've got the RPL keyboard out on loan for another week. "Broadway Musicals, Show by Show, 2006-2013, A Musical and Historical Look at Broadway's Biggest Hits" here I come.

Wednesday 3 October 2018


In an obit for Arthur Mitchell, whom I'd not heard of (he'd formed the Dance Theatre of Harlem, the first Afro-American classical ballet company), a story caught me eye. I paraphrase it here:
The New York City Ballet choreographer and director George Balanchine created a pas de deux for Mitchell and white southern ballerina Diana Adams. This was 1960 or so. Everyone was against Balanchine for putting together on a stage this Afro-American dancer and "the essence and purity of Caucasian dance." Balanchine knew what he was up against. "You know, my dear," he said, "this has got to be perfect."
I feel the same way about my musical, if I may say so, when so many reasons for failure lurk.
Something else along these lines. The other day I ran into a writer friend I hadn't seen for a while. "Should I know what you're working on?" she asked. "No," said I, adding, unnecessarily, "No one should know, no one wants to know, no one cares, etc., etc. Except the one person who matters. Me." (And you, dear Reader.)