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More About the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop
For you obsessively curious types out there, here's how I spent the first year in the BMI/Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop:
- Our first assignment was an AABA "subtext" song, where the singer was trying to reveal something to whoever he was singing to in a very subtle way. I wrote a thing called "How Do You Say...?" which had a composer trying to tell his lyricist partner that he loves her, but struggling with the words.
- Next was THE classic BMI first-year assignment, the Blanche DuBois song, where we had to write a song for the famous "Streetcar Named Desire" character. This time, I was partnered with a collaborator who wrote the music, and I wrote the lyrics. I think our song was called "Stella," with Blanche singing about her sister, Stella.
- Next was a charm song for a character from the movie "It's A Wonderful Life." Again, I was partnered with a composer. We wrote a charm song for the crusty old banker Mr. Potter, for the point in the action where he's trying to convince the hero, George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart), to work for him. I think it was called "Work For Me, George."
- The fourth assignment was to write a comedy song for a character from the film "Broadcast News." Again, I had a collaborator, but this time I wrote the music and she wrote the lyrics. Our song was for Albert Brooks' character Aaron, who gets a shot at being the weekend anchorman, but gets all unnerved and nearly drowns in flop sweat.
- Next we worked in conjunction with BMI's librettists' workshop, and put together musical scenes for the film "A League of Their Own." I wrote music and lyrics for a charm song for the Geena Davis character's husband (Bill Pullman) to sing her upon his return from war. It was called "My Wife's On the Cover of Life Magazine."
- The next assignment was creating a musical scene for "Death of a Salesman," for a very specific moment in the play. For this assignment, I adapted the scene, and wrote the music and lyrics for the song. I called it "The Willy Loman Fiasco."
The final assignment was to create a ten minute mini-musical, something that told a complete story. It could be adapted from existing story material, or completely original. I wrote the script, music, and lyrics for a ten minute musical about writing a ten minute musical, the two lead characters being a man and woman composer and lyricist in a musical theatre workshop who are partnered somewhat against their wills to do the assignment. The man wants to write a musical version of STAR TREK, which initially horrifies the woman. Eventually, they come to terms and do, indeed, write STAR TREK: THE MUSICAL, which goes on to take Broadway by storm. It was a very silly piece, one of the most important components being that the whole thing was timed, with periodic updates throughout the performance to let the audience know how much of the ten minutes remained. I was very gratified by how well the performance went in class, and I had a terrifically talented cast to perform it, including Joe Farrell, Raquel Hecker, and Jamie McGonnigal.
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