Wait…What are the Lyrics?! #MusicalImprov @thepitnyc. #Musicals #Improv

Facemyfear

Here’s the thing about singing. It puts the performer, and some might say the audience as well, in a very vulnerable position. There is nowhere to run, no place to hide. Sound is emanating from the mouth of the person singing the song. Is it good? Well, that’s subjective. Is it difficult? You bet. Why? Because the person onstage is telling the truth. They can’t hide behind a funny joke, a witty remark, or complex dialogue. They simply have their voice. Sure, instruments can buffer the nature of the actor’s natural instrument, but the audience didn’t come to hear a muffled tune, they came to hear a song.

Over the past 8 weeks or so, I have been taking a musical improvisation class at the People’s Improv Theater, the PIT as it’s fondly called. As I have written before, it has been one of the most challenging things I have ever done as an actor. I am forever grateful to have had the opportunity to have taken the class, studied with the teachers, and performed with my fellow classmates.

Singing has always been something that I have loved doing even though I know that I will never be the next Maria Callas, Kristen Chenoweth, or Idina Menzel. Frankly, I wouldn’t want to be. So why do I do it? I’ve always loved music. I’ve always studied music. Ever since I was little and my mom got me a Muppets keyboard that taught me how to play “Rainbow Connection”; Ever since I was 7 and sang in choirs at church, and later in high school; Ever since I was in various musicals like Oliver!, The Wizard of Oz, and Godspell, music has been a central part of my existence.

It’s also funny that something I love to do so much can bring with it an element of uncertainty and fear. But, it’s that vulnerability which I find to be compelling. It has helped me get over hurdles in life, and this experience with musical improv is no different. I am facing a fear. Fear, by its very nature comes with negative connotations. However, I think there is such a thing as “good fear” and I have certainly come across it over the past two months. I am not the best singer in the world, but I am embracing a part of myself that I have stifled for a long time and it’s nice to bring that part of myself out again.

I know my strengths. I am good at: Acting, making people laugh, and writing. It’s only fitting that I get to merge all of those elements into improvisation. As an improviser, I am using my skills as an actor to emote and create something which I am essentially writing off the top of my head through listening to my scene partner (or partners.) This makes us writers, actors, and directors of our own material. Now, add the element of librettist (the person who writes a script for musical) and lyricist to the mix. Congrats, you now have musical improvisation.

It’s not just making stuff up for the hell of it either. There are specific rules, and a certain structure that we follow in order to make it work as improvisers. From song structures, to the format of the actual show, there are rules that are followed. It is within those confines that the show comes together, making it one of the most interesting forms of improv and pure entertainment.

What will the libretto be this Saturday at 7:00 down at the People’s Improv Theater? Only time will tell. But wait…what are the lyrics?! Oh right, we’ll have to come up with those too.

Follow myself and my fellow musical improv classmates on Twitter:

Follow Your Fear

                         –Del Close

The Bardy Bunch: Shakespeare + ’70’s TV = Musical Theater Perfection. @TheBardyBunch #SunshineDay

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 Picture it: Shakespeare, Partridge Family music, and Brady Bunch punchlines–in one show. That’s what happens in the musical,  The Bardy Bunch written by Stephen Garvey and directed by Jay Stern. Their tagline: In the summer of 1974, the Brady and Partridge Families, recently canceled by ABC and no longer under America’s watchful eye, met in a blood-soaked, passion-filled, vengeance-fueled, very special episode of Shakespearean proportions. 

Boy, is it Shakespearean– and musical in the best way possible.  Writer Stephen Garvey has managed to take two of the most popular shows of 1970s, and the most popular playwright of all time, and make a seamless musical theater experience. Broadway vets Sean McDermott (Miss Saigon/Grease/Starlight Express) , Lori Hammel (Mamma Mia!), and Kristy Cates (Elphaba in Wicked) lead the Brady and Partridge kids in a mash-up of Shakespeare’s classics (Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet, and Macbeth, just to name a few) backed by groovy music like, “I Think I Love You” and “Sunshine Day” (complete with the best Brady bicycle sequence since the 1995 movie adaptation) and my personal favorite, “It’s One of Those Nights (Yes, Love.)” Young talents like Erik Keiser, Annie Watkins, Cali Elizabeth Moore, and Mitch McCarrell give stand-out performances. The show itself is so unique in concept and construct, that it must be seen and heard! Shakespeare would be proud. So, if you’re in the NYC area, groove on down to the Theatre at St. Clements for a serious nostalgia fix. 

The Bardy Bunch enjoyed its original run during the 2011 New York International Fringe Festival and opened March 20th, 2014 Off-Broadway. For ticket information and to learn more about the show, visit: http://www.thebardybunch.com.

And on a personal note: Stephen, yes, I am a groupie.

Movies That Should Be Musicals


At about 4:oo in the morning, I was inspired by Vulture.com’s genius article about turning A League of Their Own into a musical, complete with a two-act songbook. It seriously needs to happen. And they weren’t joking when they mentioned that Rocky was being made into a musical. Auditions are scheduled in the next few weeks. Weird. Not to mention, Mean Girls, Clueless and Little Miss Sunshine have all been turned into musicals. Seriously.  That got me to thinking about other movies that should be musicals.

  1. Take note from 30 Rock, and make Mystic Pizza a musical. Seriously. You could even have a dance number with pizzas and waitresses. If performed at the St. James Theatre or Helen Hayes Theatre, John’s Pizzeria on 44th could even provide the pies.
  2. The Devil Wears Prada: Come on people. Anne Hathaway & Meryl Streep could even reprise their famous roles, and there could be dance number where they actually Vogue to the song, Vogue.
  3. Ghostbusters: Featuring your favorite 80s hits, including “Call Me” by Blondie.
  4. Home Alone: Kevin McAllister singing “All By Myself” by Eric Carmen during the film’s climax when he realizes that he misses his family. Marv & Harry sing, “Just the Two of Us” by Bill Withers.
  5. The Shawshank Redemption: Andy & Red sing “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” by the Animals among others.
  6. Iron Man: Robert Downey, Jr. actually has singing talent, and it could play across the street from Spider-Man: Turn of the Dark.  Think about that for a second. SPIDERMAN is ACTUALLY a MUSICAL. For REAL. Like currently…playing on BROADWAY.
  7. Scream: The killer with that creepy mask could sing Sting’s famous ballad, “Every Breath You Take” (I’ll Be Watching You.)
  8. Mrs. Doubtfire: The chorus could sing “Dude Looks Like a Lady” by Aerosmith. They could even write the rest of the music.
  9. Stand By Me: Come on, kids and musicals equal box-office GOLD. They could sing “Lean on Me”
  10. The Godfather: Featuring originals like “Take the Gun. Leave the Cannoli” and “I’ll Make Him an Offer He Can’t Refuse” and “Drop the Gun, Michael” during the shootout in the restaurant.

Special Bonus: The Sandlot. I mean, come on, “You’re Killin’ Me Smalls” would be the hit song!

Seriously people. Composers, lyricists, producers: take note. People want musicals of movies. Just a few suggestions with jumping off points, so get a move on! We got casting to do and opening nights to plan!