Thursday, January 16, 2014

Midsummer Night's Dream - The Musical

Charles Dickens once compared his books to children. He indicated that deep down, parents have a favorite child. And as to his novels, this is what he said:

"I have in my heart of hearts a favorite child. And his name is David Copperfield."

Well, I disagree with him about playing favorites with your kids. In case my girls are reading this, I love you both equally and absolutely! You're both my favorite!

But I do have a favorite play -- at least so far. And her name is "A Midsummer Night's Dream: The Musical." This labor of love began around early 1999. I had been finishing up my Masters at CSUN. I had been married for a few years. I hadn't directed a children's play since 1996. My friend Josh and I were kind of sad that we were entering the grown-up world of paying bills and holding down a career.

Then, Josh and I went to a week long computer training seminar. During the day we learned about Macromedia Flash (the program I use to make my web pages -- for better or worse). Since we had a lot of free time in the evening, we started to brainstorm about another musical. We started to discuss Shakespeare's work, and pretty soon, I started cranking out songs for Midsummer. And, we came up with a really funny aspect of the play --

Puck is the one who decides that she's sick of speaking in iambic pentameter. So she uses her magic to make the characters speak in a modern day manner, with some songs to boot. Then, about 30 minutes into the play, the ghost of William Shakespeare rushes the stage and announces that he has been spinning in his grave ever. Shakespeare and Puck become this hysterical pair. The show transcends typical adaptations and the music, in my not-so-humble opinion, is awesome.

Our musical director was Rachel Greenlee, and she did something very brave. She listened to me sing (if you want to call it that) into a tape recorder, and during the course of three weeks, we created one song after another. I think we added a new song in the final two weeks of rehearsal.

And "Midsummer' became my first, and so far only published musical. It has been performed all over the country, at various middle schools, high schools and community theater. (And I hope people continue to perform it.)

Of course, maybe I shouldn't be so proud of the show. After all, it wouldn't be nearly as good if it wasn't for Shakespeare. Thanks Will!

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