I wish I was a consistent writer. Yes, yes, I know that it’s a matter of discipline and practice, not wishing…but it’s precisely because I am undisciplined that I resort to wishing.
Thankfully, one of the steps I did take towards making this wish a greater possibility has borne good fruit.
Three years ago, I got an email from Lisa Rubin, artistic director at the Segal Centre, inviting me to sing in the Blame Canada edition of Broadway Cafe. This concert, featuring Canadian musical theatre content, had previously been produced in other cities (see fellow classmate Sara Wunsch’s article on the concert!), and I was delighted to take part along with several other talented performers.
At the time of the Montreal concert, I pestered Landon Braverman about how I might start the Canadian Musical Theatre Writers’ Collective Workshop in Montreal, a class which had run in both Toronto and Vancouver. He told me we would need at least 12 people to run the class, and someone to teach it. I suggested Jonathan Monro as a teacher, and after that, I set about finding the other 11 would be apostles of Montreal Broadway musical writing. 🙂 We spent the last two years together learning about structuring musicals, lyric writing, story elements, but more importantly, about how to support each other constructively.
Cut to Mon Aug 31st, when we presented our group’s year end showcase online, as featured here in Broadway World! Should you be so inclined, you can watch the entire showcase here:
My classmates all put forth excellent, creative work from the musicals they are developing, and the night felt very joyful.
As for myself, I was fortunate to have my songs presented by two wonderful artists. Both Petrina Bromley, and Marie-Pierre de Brienne went above and beyond with their performances of my work. I didn’t see anything ahead of time so it was delightful to be surprised at the same time as the rest of the audience.
My piece, Cougar Town, (arranged by Doug Price), wherein a middle aged music teacher wrestles with her conflicted feelings for her 20 year old student, opened the evening, which you can see here:
The second song, Hylas, (piano arrangement by Benjamin Kwong, track orchestrated by Jonathan Monro), was originally written as a stand alone folk song, but when I brought it to one of our classes, I was encouraged to consider it for the song cycle I was working on.
The name Hylas is that of Heracles’ (the Roman Hercules) companion and servant in classical mythology. Described by the poet Theocritus as a boy “whose hair hung down in curls”, he was abducted by water nymphs due to his beauty and it is said that he decided to remain with them “to share their power and their love.”
This story was a frequent subject of paintings for British artists in the 19th and early 20th centuries:
Last fall, I happened to meet someone whose look was similar to that of other paintings in this era and he ended up being my inspiration for the song. In this piece, an older woman attempts to convince her younger, casual lover to commit to a relationship or risk losing what she considers to be her last chance at love.
You can see Marie Pierre’s beautiful interpretation of it here:
My plan is to eventually record the song myself with a music video. I even have a dream photographer in mind: Candice Ghai…anyone want to fly her to me, or me to her? 🙂
Our happy band of writers has decided to continue on as a collective and I’m so grateful for their presence. Meanwhile, a new cohort of creators will begin the year one class this fall, this time offered in both English and French, with Virginie Daigle joining Jonathan to teach. If you are interested in joining the class in the future, feel free to reach out to me and I can put you in touch!
Would love to hear your feedback on the songs! (I eventually hope to post the sheet music here for sale but if you are interested in it before it is available, let me know and we can make an arrangement by email).
Keep creating, dear fellow humans. This pandemic may filled with precarity, but beauty is both a balm and an antidote in this very odd time.