RLT Musical Revue Poster

Here’s an advance copy of our new RLT Musicial Revue poster. This unique show has 21 different songs and/or short theatrical musicals ranging from 1 minute to 10 minutes. We have a troupe of 22 singers and dancers who have been working feverously to get this show ready. And ready, we are not! At least not yet! But posters mean promotion, promotion means tickets sales, ticket sales mean the audience is expecting something. So not time to stop. We must and will get ready. More later …

RLT MusicalPOSTER2

Previewing (Actually)Tales of Wonder

My new show is called “Tales of Wonder,” but there is a drama medley in the show also called “Tales of Wonder.” Yes, I get the show name from that.

What’s a drama medley? I don’t know. I just made it up. It’s three dramatic sketches wrapped around an original song which holds them all together. These pieces are meant to be nostalgic reminders of what it’s like to be a kid at Christmas. The first piece is called “Snow Fort,” it’s a really funny piece with young kids bantering back and forth as they prepare for a snow ball fight. The second piece, “Santa Daddy” is a  piece where a child wakes up to see her daddy putting presents under the tree. The daddy tries to convince her that he’s Santa Claus. The last piece is “You Gotta Get Up,” inspired by Rich Mullins’ Christmas song of the same name. Two excited girls wake up early to see their presents under the tree. Then they tear off to jump all over their parents.

Each piece is sewn together by an up-beat song called “Arise and Touch the Dawn.”

Here’s the first verse:

Magical flights of fancy free

Wings of the night we welcome thee

Arise my heart, Arise and touch the dawn.

Joyous sights to welcome thee

The dark of my soul releases free

Arise my heart, Arise and touch the dawn.

 

I had a lot of fun writing these, but even more fun watching them come together. It’s going to be great.  Dec 3-5 @ penangpac.

 

Tales of wonder sketch

“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

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.

2:08 – A record (plus lyrics for a new song)

We had our first of three all day Saturday rehearsals before the big show. It also signified the first time we did a complete run-through, which is always a big deal, and I’m happy to report that the show will go on!

Actually, for a first run-through, it was quite superb – not for how clean it was because it was not remotely clean – a lot of dropped lines, missed lines, mangled lines, missed cues, missing props and nearly everything else that can go wrong did go wrong.

But for a first run-through, we clocked in at 2 hours and 8 minutes. Excellent!

I’ve had comparable run-throughs in the past which lasted an excruciating 3-4 hours. I really wanted it to flow and see what we could do, and I was happy with where we are at with still 16 days before dress-rehearsal.

It was also the first time we added our “Irish Saloon Song” called “I got me a girl” and it was an immediate hit. Here are the lyrics written by yours truly:

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

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

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

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

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

We’ll do a double run-through next Saturday and at that point we should be ready to soar. I can’t wait. “A Tad of Trouble: A Musical”.

a tad of trouble flyer 2a

Our Photoshoot: “A Tad of Trouble”

We had our drama photo-shoot a couple days ago, graciously done by the talented Matt Brandon. A huge thanks to Matt for his time and generosity for doing these. Please check out Matt’s website The Digital Trekker.

I’ll post a few of the photos here to help us all visualize the story of “A Tad of Trouble.”

Tad is a rascal. And he’s mute.

dalat.04.22.15-16.11.29

 

He causes all kinds of trouble with his parents. His father has had enough. June, his mother tries to keep the peace.

dalat.04.22.15-16.58.58

 

Tad’s father sends Tad off with a traveling salesman named Obediah so he will grow out of his shenanigans. However, it turns out that Obediah is a crook, and he uses Tad as part of his criminal activities. Here they are selling a set of faulty knives to Mrs. Todd.

dalat.04.22.15-17.10.27-EditThe clever Obediah has been giving Marshal McKinley and his tomboy Niece, Temperance, the slip for years.

dalat.04.22.15-17.07.11-Edit

 

When Tad’s mother, June, is informed by the Marshal that Tad is working with the crooked Obediah, she knows there’s only one thing to do: pray!

dalat.04.22.15-16.43.25

 

This brings together Olivia, Tad’s guardian angel, and Zander, the cynical guardian angel of Obediah. Olivia has one simple proposition for Tad: she will give the mute boy the gift of song if he is willing to right the wrongs.

dalat.04.22.15-17.12.45

 

Will he take their advice? “A Tad of Trouble: A Musical.” Only at the Penang Performing Arts Centre in May 2015.

 

 

 

 

After Hours and Hours: Still No Idea What I Have

One of the projects I’ve been working on lately (and for a while) is 10-minute concept musical about the end of the world.

I started it last year with some basic brainstorm writing and a chorus melody that I liked which has become kind of the focused anthem for the piece.

Recently, probably about two weeks ago, I finally got back to it and I’ve been putting in a bunch of hours here and there trying to sort it out and get it finished. Honestly, pieces like this usually just fit into place in a hurry for me, but for some reason, this one is being quite stubborn.

The basic idea is that two people’s day is interrupted by someone dropping a nuclear bomb nearby. The tone of it is rather light-hearted and funny, though I’m trying to build in some poignancy as well. I really don’t like light pieces of entertainment without purpose. That’s just not me.

So I’ve been singing it over and over in my mind, slowly chiseling away at the melodies, structure, lyrics, and overall theme of the piece. Over the last two days it is finally starting to take shape. I use audacity to make simple recordings of my ideas – just me singing – it’s painful to listen to sometimes – and yesterday I recorded a rough version of the first seven minutes. Since then, I’ve started shaping the final three minutes.

But what has struck me about this piece, is that I have NO idea of what I have here. Will other people understand it?  It’s not a straight narrative and it has a hodgepodge of melodies, some which come back around and repeat. I kind of like it, but perhaps no one else in the world will understand what I’m getting at. That’s probably an overstatement because it’s not that abstract, but what if it’s produced and the audience doesn’t get it? What if no one laughs? What if they think it’s stupid?

Or what if they stand and applaud?

Creativity can be flipped on its head in the matter of seconds. There are no guarantees, and what I keep telling myself is to produce the best possible work that I can. Make sure that I am happy with it and that it represents what I want to say. And then let the chips fall where they may.

I do hope that this one will be produced at some point this year. I just can’t tell what the reaction will be. Such is the life of a creative writer or any creative artist for that matter.

So here’s to you: “It’s the End of the World and I Love You.”