28 July 2009

From MATT, part 3

Hey all!
I hope rehearsals continue to go well and that you're enjoying the tunes! Articulation, rhythm, precision. I hear you've got a few more questions, so here we go...
Inspiration for Sheldon? Nothing in particular, and I can say with confidence that Officer Krupke (a great tune) wasn't on my mind. Interesting you should mention that, though, because a great composer made the same comparison!
I'm not aware of video online - Jill would definitely know that :) I was very fond of our original production - we had some great characters. I hope you all will make a video so I can see your version!
Waylon the metrosexual jock was born out of circumstance. Between needing some kind of conflict between Waylon and Katie in "Locker Room" (tempo di George Michael, ie, "Faith") and the concept of "Macho to Metro" it just worked out to have Waylon be the way he is. Plus, it's so much more fun than a standard "jock" character. And real.
Waylon gets his name from the great country star, Waylon Jennings, who is not one of my all-time favorites, but who I happened to be listening to around that time. Needed a good, distinctive, two-syllable name.
Alas, I was a good boy, and didn't lie to my folks. I might omit certain details of my day, but everyone's allowed some privacy. I did and do often tell tall tales, exaggerations, and pure fictions, but that's a bit different. Jill and I were thinking of ways the characters could all come together as a group, and I was just drawn to the idea of coming together through lying and covering up for each other. How great to discover friendship (and with it, truth) through lying. I've long been delighted by the idea that great authors of fiction tell the truth by lying. The "Lying" tune is just a little allusion to that fact, plus a good time and a chance to bring Lotta into the second act.
Before writing Intervention, I had written a show called Middle School Madness - a revue of scenes (by a wonderful woman named Bette Glenn) and songs (by me) about middle school life, for middle school kids. Jill found out about it and decided to produce it, which is how I met her. Anyway, in Middle School Madness (MSM, as I call it), there are three songs which I call "The Michael Songs" - each a solo number for a girl about the same boy (who we never meet) named Michael.
The first is called "The Way I Am." Here's a girl in love with Michael, but she insists he only sees half of her - the loud and obnoxious half - and not the more true soft and loving part. ("For every time I've hollered or roared like a lion there were a million unnoticed times that I merely meowed...") Near the end: "When you finally see all of me I hope you love the way I am." etc.
The next is "Michael and I," which starts out:
"Michael and I used to play catch when we were small.
Our moms sat and talked on the bench while we threw the ball.
And sometimes he and I
Would pretend that a dragon was swoopin' down from the sky!
I was the girl; he was the prince.
Michael & I been best friends ever since."
It continues, "I've never kept a secret from Michael before..." and yada yada yada you guessed it, she loves him. Here it's a case of 'I like-like my best friend and want to tell him but I'm afraid of ruining our friendship.'
The third, a fan favorite, is the "Track Song" - a girl alternates singing about why she hates running track and why she loves running track:
"Track! Stupid track!
Why did I ever sign up for track!
Why do spring sports start in the winter?
Out in the cold running laps until I'm told
That I can go in and change!
Change gears and do my homework
Till the next day's rising
The routine's so tiring
I wonder why I'm doing it but...
[beautiful music]
When I lift my feet....
One foot in front of the other
I am practically in flight." etc.
Midway through, Michael calls - he wants to do homework together - and the song becomes about whether or not she should go out with Michael, who clearly likes her. Meanwhile, back at the lyric, the language of track and the language of love get all mixed up.
ANYWAY... when it came to Intervention, I thought - wouldn't it be great to finally meet Michael? So here we have three girls, all in love with him - and, just because - one LAST unrequited Michael song (just called "Michael")... and then finally, after a show and a half of waiting... "Oh my God! Here he comes!" Of course it turns out, he's gay! How perfect! How many girls did I know in high school who were in love with the gay guys, but they didn't know, because it was high school? And how many gay guys knew perfectly well they were loved, but didn't say anything (cause it was high school)? It just led to a mess. In this case, it instead leads to a fabulous musical number - one of my favorites.
As to what Michael himself would be like, I believe in putting on the stage what I would want to see, which is how Michael got the way he is, and Waylon got the way he is, and Lotta with her increasingly risqué double entendres, and Sheldon, the secret hero of the play - basically, you try to write something you'd like to watch.
Why high school? I did love high school, really, but that wasn't why it happened. After doing Middle School Madness, Jill pretty much refused to take no for an answer. She wanted me to write a show for high school kids - some of her high school kids had seen MSM and wanted a show for themselves. At first I didn't want to do it, but Jill, to her credit, kept at me until I agreed. So we said we would write a show for high school kids and put it up in the spring. Which we did.
Once again, I'm sure I've tried your patience with my longwinded ramblings! I only hope they're at least a little enjoyable, and don't take away too much of your valuable rehearsal time.
Go Company M!

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