“I Got Me a Girl”: Lyrics and Video from “A Tad of Trouble”

It’s no secret that I love writing lyrics. Here’s a particularly fun song from our recent musical. Lyrics below and a Youtube video of our opening night performance.  Enjoy!

“I Got Me a Girl”

Lyrics by Mark W Sasse

Music by Hui Min Tang & Mark W Sasse

Oh, I got me a wish that this day would end,

with a large battered fish and a pint with a friend

It’s a fine, fine world to forget all your cares,

in a battered saloon where nobody stares

Oh, I got me a girl, who is pretty and smart,

but her brains aren’t important if she has a heart,

and her heart’s not important if she knows how to cook

and if her food is that good I don’t care how she looks

OBEDIAH

I got me a cart that I push all the day

I look for said fools who can spare me some change

and I pinch the wallets from all the fine folks

so I have me some money for drinks with me blokes

EVERYONE

Oh, I got me a wish that this day would end,

with a large battered fish and a pint with a friend

It’s a fine, fine world to forget all your cares,

in a battered saloon where nobody stares

WILVER

I got me a boy who doesn’t say much

and wife who worries about such and such

so I escape with me wallet and small spending change

to my kin at the bar where I’m never to blame

EVERYONE

Oh, I got me a girl, who is pretty and smart,

but the brains aren’t important if she has a heart,

and her heart’s not important if she knows how to cook

and if her food is that good I don’t care how she looks

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Ten Reasons My Re-staging was Better than the Original

I don’t know how many times a director or an artist gets to re-produce one of their own works. I did recently – re-staging my musical “A Tad of Trouble.” I wanted to make it better – much better than the original. And here’s 10 reasons why I think I succeeded:

1. Plot holes plugged – This was a huge one, for me, the writer. When I looked at the 2009 script, I cringed in many places. I loved the basic backbone of the story – naturally, or  I wouldn’t have wanted to do it again. But there were many plot issues which needed to be addressed. There were some random lines which meant nothing. Those were streamlined. What didn’t make sense or seemed unrealistic was completely redone. I’m real happy with the final product.

2. Set – Day and night! We had a simple backdrop for our first production. With this one, we created a cool above-ground-walkway structure for the angels which worked really well. We added a hanging fabric structure behind the angels and we had some amazing artwork from our art students. Not even close on this one.

3. Venue  – Our restaging was at penangpac. The original at Wawasan Open University. While the original venue was nice, the stage was very small. Penangpac enabled us to do it right. State of the art enjoyment!

4. Dancers – We had 5 experienced dancers for this production. Wow, what a contribution they made. We had a choreographer who worked tirelessly with this group. Excellent addition.

5. New Songs – I decided I wanted to make it a full-fledged musical so we added about 7 new songs to the mix of other original songs. They worked. Really worked. The saloon drinking song was excellent. The opening songs added so much! And the ending song was so touching, I cried every time I saw it! Wow!

6. Revising Scenes – There was a scene we deleted from the original. I brought it back and re-worked it to fit in and it was a nice addition.

7. New Ending – I decided that a re-staging needs to have a new ending. We rocked this ending. Loved it! (though I don’t want to give it away)

8. Bigger Cast – We had a cast of 29 this year, my largest ever. It created some great synergy on stage.

9. Bigger Crowd – We had big, rollicking crowds. Enough said!

10. I’m not the same director – I’ve learned a few things since 2009. This experience was invaluable for raising the bar and creating a great drama/musical.

So there it is. The re-staging was a huge success. So much fun. I shall miss “A Tad of Trouble,” but now it’s time to move on.

Thoughts on Opening Night

The jitters motor the action. The laughter loosens the mouth. The applause raises the chin. Opening night is always special. The theatre arts would be one of life’s more ridiculous endeavors if there never was an opening night. For months these make-believe characters have been jabbing at each other week after week, having the same arguments, slapping each other after the same old insult, and having the same conflict resolution after the same old plot climax. But suddenly, it all makes sense. The lines bring enjoyment. The dances bring amazement. The story draws in the eyes, and the heartstrings are tugged at just the right moment. The kids finally get the reward for their hard work. All of that happened Tuesday night as we re-staged our original musical from 2009. The crowd of 163 filled up the hall nicely and I once again marveled at how the kids had grown over the last few months. It was without a doubt our best performance. The energy of the audience always does that. It brings out the best. And though it was not without flaws, it flowed beautifully and I couldn’t have been prouder. We have some truly talented actors in our mix, some who will be leaving us this year. I shall savor every minute. Two more performances this Saturday will end our tiny little run. From the mind to the written page to the stage. There’s nothing like it. a tad of trouble flyer 2a

A Sneak Peak Video at Our New Musical

A behind the scenes mini-preview of our new musical “A Tad of Trouble.” This is one of the closing numbers of act one. Our rehearsals take place in our chapel because it’s the largest place on campus for us. We won’t get to rehearse on the actual stage at Penangpac until May 18 – the day before the show! Yikes! But we make do.

In this short clip, we see Tad (David Beak) just having received the gift of song by his guardian angel Olivia. We also have the cool dancing angels in the background. Plus our vocal director trying to get some ooomph into the back-up singers. Our choreographer is in the foreground. I’m hanging in the tech room. If you are in town, please come see the final production on May 19 & May 23.

The song in the video is called “When We are Given a Second Chance.”  I wrote it back in 2008, and the singer of it in this video updated and recorded the version you are hearing in the video. It’s a really nice melody of songs which brings Act 1 to its conclusion. I can’t wait to see it on the big stage under the theatrical lights!

 

 

 

On the First Day of March

Back in September 2008, I was beginning to undertake writing my second play — this one which would incorporate some music. “A Tad of Trouble”  was born and performed for the first time in May 2009. Six years later I am re-staging it with lots new music and an updated script. It’s a fun story of a troubled, mute boy who is given the gift of song by his guardian angel. The first song I wrote for this piece was called “On the First Day of March” — its the piece where the angels realize that the boy can hear her when she sings. So on this first day of March 2015, here are the lyrics that I wrote once upon a time. Enjoy.

 

On the first day of March the harrow lies still

And the leaves long impacted wait the robin’s clear shrill

And the snow half-melted hints to warmth yet to come

In this dim barren world I know good is not done

 

On the first day of April as the rain sloshes down

And the wheels of the carriage are stuck flush to the ground

And the driver hurls curses at his horses undone

In this mud maddened world I know good is not done

 

For the mud gives way to the soft fertile ground

And the air in full blossom bring the birds back around

Long fasting, fresh finches wing their hopes to the sky

 

While fields of green splendor spread their life far and wide

Life whispers then roars out the name of the one

Who anchors the stars and gives warmth to the sun

Mid-March has no answer for the goodness that comes

And it reminds me my work here on earth is not done

 

On this first day of March while the tricksters still rule

While they scam and they laugh making peasants poor fools

And they cling to their money like a prodigal son

Even then I still know that good is not done

Even now I still know that good is not done

Jumping Deep into My Next Musical

I’m producing and directing an original musical entitled “A Tad of Trouble.”  I originally wrote the book and music to it back in 2008 with a group of students. We produced it in 2009 to very favorable reviews. For the past couple of years, I’ve been wanting to re-do it. To make it better. To make it even more of musical. Well, now we are.

I re-wrote the book last fall, completely changing some parts for the better and fixing some glaring plot holes that we missed the first time around. Hey, I was inexperienced back then. The book is much more vibrant and punchy this time around. It’s a lot of fun. Here’s the synopsis:

A troubled, mute boy, Tad, is sent away with a traveling salesman by his father in hopes of teaching him how to be a man. The salesman turns out to be Obediah Clementine, the evilest and cleverest con man around, pulling Tad deeper into the underworld of mid-America 1903. The con man and his apprentice are followed around by their guardian angels, Olivia the optimist – Zander the pessimist, who philosophize of life and redemption. Zander bets Olivia that Tad will never turn around. One day, as Olivia is singing, she discovers that Tad had heard her. She gives Tad the following proposition: she’ll give him the voice of song if he is willing to write the wrongs. But will Tad be able to re-lease himself from the grip of the master con-man, Obediah.

There’s a lot to love about this script. In act two, Tad only sings everything, making many of the scenes ridiculous and hilarious. There’s some wonderfully vivid characters, including the tom-boy, Temperance who chews tobacco and hates everything girly – much to the chagrin of her uncle, the marshal. It’s a wonderful story of redemption, second chances, and learning how to turn one’s life around. But it’s not preachy or predictable. Not at all. I wouldn’t allow that. It’s fresh, fun, and meaningful.

We have a huge group of people working on it. Check out some of the numbers:

14 actors

5 dancers

10 singers

10 set designers

8 other theatre art students who will be involved in various tasks

6 composers and arrangers

1 choreographer

1 vocal director

1 director

It’s opening in May at the Penang Performing Arts Centre. I hope you’ll be in town for this special production.

I know I’m having a blast producing it.

Self-Assessment: How I Rank My Own Plays

I’ve written or co-written seven full length plays. All of them were a blast to produce and stage, but some of them, in my opinion, have staying power while others I would probably never want to revisit.

Why am I contemplating the quality of my plays? Well, my latest one, “Grandparents’ War” finished its limited run on Saturday night to rave reviews. I’ve heard comments like ‘How can you top that?’ to ‘That’s the funniest thing I saw in a longtime.’ That’s awesome to hear, of course. But where does “Grandparents’ War” rank in my own estimation?  Let’s do a countdown.

7. Monkey Love Potion (2007) – This was the first play I co-wrote with students back in the fall of 2007. We were flying by the seat of our pants. My goal was just to produce something, somewhat coherent. It ended up being a loose plot held together by a bunch of one-liners. Funny. Yes. Silly. Yes. Meaningful. Ahhhh – no. That’s why it’s on the bottom.

6. Take Two (2009) – Take Two is far better than Monkey Love Potion. It’s a romantic comedy that incorporates a lot of original music. It’s light, fun, and very enjoyable to produce. The reviews were good. But for me, the writing lacks staying power. I wouldn’t want to revisit it.

5. Romans on the Couch (2010) – I wrote this in, like, four days. It was meant to be a short fun play where the actors get to interact with the audience. We actually staged an interactive night where we just went crazy with the audience and it was a blast! I would definitely stage this again. I liked it a lot.

4 – 1.  Now, I have a hard time choosing. I think these four plays are a cut above the rest and I don’t know how to rank them, so I’ll go by chronological order.

2008 A Tad of Trouble – This is a hit. It is a musical about a guardian angel who gives her subject, a troubled mute boy, the gift of song if he promises to right the wrongs he’s done. It’s got an awesome villain in Obediah Clementine; it’s set in Midwest USA in 1903. I love this play and I AM going to re-stage it. Some of the writing needs to be crisper and I want to redo some of the songs, but it was wonderful, and it’s coming back to the stage. Unfortunately, it remains unpublished at this point.

2010 Spy Blue – This one stretched me – and everyone else to get really creative in trying to put on a serious spy drama that was not just a rip off of every other spy movie and book out there. We succeeded. Spy Blue has a wonderful plot-line with some great characters. I liked it so much that I re-wrote the play into novella format. I may just expand it into a full-fledged novel someday. The ending is anything but guessable. We wanted to hit people in the gut – and we succeeded. This is a great play.

2011 Life with Stewart – This play has some of my best drawn characters. It has depth and meaning and a very solid plot-line – punchy dialogue – plus a wonderful and creative “Black and White Sitcom Scene” where the play goes back in time and recreates Stewart’s famous groundbreaking sitcom. It was a lot of fun. It was part funny, and part serious. Probably more serious than funny. But very well written.

2012 Grandparents’ War – This is quality comedy. A lot of historical references and cultural items enrich the writing as two very different families come crashing into each other. Some absolutely hysterical dialogue and actions which had the audience rolling.

I guess I can’t rank these four because they are so different from each other. I believe any drama troupe would have a blast staging any of these plays.

If you know of a school or local theater who wants some quality, original drama. Please introduce them to my work.

Much appreciated.

PS: I’ve decided to write another musical this year. It’s been three years. It’s time. More info to follow.