July 24, 2010

Right around Christmas time, 2009, I got a call to come in as a composer and arranger on a new musical. My friend Cheri Steinkellner (with whom I was writing “Mosaic” at the time) had a working draft of a show that used a bunch of Tin-Pan Alley era songs as the score for a fast-paced and funny story about kids in the early days of the sheet-music publishing industry. Because of our collaboration on the other project, I had heard Cheri talking about “HELLO! MY BABY” and it sounded exciting. She did a reading of the piece on the east coast and was told (by Alan Menken, among others) that the thing that would take the show to the next level was making the music drive the score, and in order to do that, she needed a composer to overhaul the music. Michael Kosarin (Alan Menken’s music director and arranger, among other things), suggested to Cheri that maybe I was the gal for the job.

Only problem: they were doing a reading of the show in NYC in March. I had three months to write the entire score. And we had our production of “Mosaic” rehearsing at Primary Stages in the meantime.
Daunting though it was, it’s not every day that someone plops a great script for musical into my lap, so I figured it would be three months of hell and at the end of it I would have two shows. And that’s pretty much what happened.
While in New York City for the month of March, I camped out at my friend Sam Davis‘s apartment for several hours a day because he was out on the road conducting Dreamgirls. And, honestly, much of the score was written on his piano. (So, thanks, Sam!) The score has 21 songs in it. We did a reading of “Hello! My Baby” at CAP 21 on March 29 and then opened “Mosaic” four days later. I did not accomplish a whole lot in the month of April.
So now “Hello! My Baby” is getting its first production at the Rubicon Theatre in Ventura, CA, as part of their fantastic Youth Theatre Program. It’s amazing to watch the kids (ages 14-22) claim these songs that were written 100 years ago as their own. The arrangements are new, the context is new, but the songs are chestnuts, and it’s my hope that audiences young and old will be thrilled to hear them. Performances start August 6th and ticket info is here. Hope you can make it!

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