|Joey Harrell, musical director of EarthStone Theater Company's production of
New World Waking.
|Blake Zolfo and I with the poster. Artwork by Carolina Gaviola, conceived by Blake and Carolina.
When he discovered my New World Waking School Challenge, he and musical director Joey Harrell were especially eager because the show is still, in a way, unformed -- or without form -- and thus, subject to being stretched and changed and reformed to whatever artistic vision they wanted.
As a teaching opportunity, it was perfect. As composer, I gave them permission to cast it any way they wished, including changing keys, changing genders of the singers, changing songs from solos to group songs or vice versa. And since the "characters" are more archetypes associated with the songs than fully fleshed out characters, they had my permission to absolutely do anything they wanted.
They couldn't do a lot in terms of production, plus they had a severely limited rehearsal period, but what a privilege it was to sit out front and see the songs re-imagined in new ways. (Here in New York, I had to cast myself in the show because, also, of time limitations so I couldn't watch the show.)
But, from the beginning, I have envisioned this piece as a learning exercise that can be thrown into a season. The point of it is to do it quickly, down and dirty. So, for the students at Boston Conservatory, it was a chance to, essentially, create a new show from scratch. And there's no better or faster way to learn.
At the beginning of the night, Blake announced that, except for one, these were all underclassmen.
|Bransen Gates sang "Brilliant Masquerade" and "War By Default."
He's a very "alive" performer on stage, totally present.
|Isaiah Reynolds lent an expert hand to such diverse songs as
Franco Ate The Paperwork, Kelly & Sinatra, My Thanksgiving Prayer, and My Rising Up.
When I showed Jim his picture, he said, "This kid is gonna get a lot of work with that smiling face."
|Gabi Carruba's harmonies were gorgeous on "He's Coming Back" and she totally raised the roof on "Lazarus Come Out."
|Aaron Badilla has a warm, melodic voice.
He also had the two most diverse songs, "Vacationing in Syria," which had the audience laughing out loud,
and "Holy Dirt," which benefitted from his quiet gravitas.
|Lauren Kidwell was brought in to handle "Sanctus," which requires a more trained operatic voice.
|Jackie Chylinski was celebrating because this would be her first college show.
She expertly handled "He's Coming Back," "I Enter This Battle Gravely" and "William's Song."
|The endlessly adorable and warm Dani Apple fully embodied the pathos of
"Gabi's Song," "I Enter This Battle Gravely" and "He's Coming Back."
|Seriously, how adorable is Isaiah Reynolds?
|Adam Bokunewicz bravely stepped in at the last minute to handle the piano chores.
It was not easy, and he gracefully pulled it off. Great musician!
|Joey Harrell, the musical director, stayed up almost all night and morning
rewriting the charts for Adam. Welcome to the glamorous world of show biz!
|The entire company and creative team.
Adam Bedilla, Joey Harrell, Dani Apple, Blake Zolfo, Jackie Chylinski, Steve Schalchlin
Adam Bokunewicz, Isaiah Reynolds, Bransen Gates, Gabi Carruba, Lauren Kidwell.
I composed New World Waking with the express goal of providing a work that would both be deeply meaningful and easy to produce -- but it takes a visionary to pull it off. A visionary like Blake Zolfo.
It doesn't matter how old you are or how inexperienced, what it takes to make it in this profession is courage to step out on your own and MAKE something happen.
New World Waking was a triumph because these young people made it happen. They didn't wait for others, they didn't wait for permission. They created their own show and they moved a lot of hearts with it. And that's what Living in the Bonus Round is truly all about.