PASSING THROUGH Plays Goodspeed Festival

My newest musical, Passing Through, with a book by Eric Ulloa and based on the memoir “Walking to Listen” by Andrew Forsthoefel will be presented at Goodspeed’s 13th Annual Festival of New Musicals in January.

We’re super excited to hear the piece aloud with a cast of actors and have it play in front of audiences. It’s a big opportunity, and we couldn’t be happier.

Under the leadership of Executive Director, Michael Gennaro, Goodspeed Musicals is dedicated to the preservation, development and advancement of musical theatre and is the first theatre in the nation to receive two Tony Awards (for outstanding achievement). Passing Through was developed over the course of two years at Goodspeed’s Johnny Mercer Writers Colony, and the Rhinebeck Writer’s Retreat.

Tickets are available here and are very cheap if you’re interested in coming up for the weekend or even the day. Our presentation is on Sunday January 14th at 1pm.

Click below to listen to “Cut You Out” – a song from the show.

LOOK: Photos and Reaction to JOE SCHMOE

Earlier this month, Indiana University presented four workshop performances of Joe Schmoe Saves the World. The piece was provocative, empowering, and very well-received by a diverse audience of different ages and backgrounds.

Here’s some press response from the show: Continue reading LOOK: Photos and Reaction to JOE SCHMOE

WATCH: New Song from Passing Through

Last Monday I hosted Musi-CAL, a bimonthly concert celebrating new works of Musical Theatre in Los Angeles. I premiered a new song from my musical-in-development Passing Through. It turned out to be perfect timing, as it was announced last week in the New York Times that my book writer Eric Ulloa and I were accepted to the Rhinebeck Writer’s Retreat to continue working on the piece this summer.

The song is sung by a 73-year-old ranch hand, Dennis, in New Mexico. Our main character, Andrew, is taken in by him for the night and begins to open up with Dennis about his conflict with his dad. In a very fatherly way, the old ranch hand shares his experience with Andrew, offering him a little perspective.

Ryback and Ulloa Accepted to Rhinebeck

Ryback and Ulloa’s new show PASSING THROUGH was one of 9 new musical selected for development at this summer’s Rhinebeck Writers Retreat.

Wanna watch a song from the show? Go here.

For nine consecutive weeks beginning July 2, each writing team will have a weeklong residency in the Hudson Valley, two hours north of New York City, to write their new musical.

Writers pay nothing to participate in Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, which takes no percentage of future royalties, and donors cover all the writers’ costs. Each writing team lives in a private home and is provided transportation, food, and a $500 stipend.

The 9 musicals were selected from 113 applications by a panel of new musical experts: Continue reading Ryback and Ulloa Accepted to Rhinebeck

The Anatomy of a Best Song

What makes a song the “Best Original Song” for a motion picture? This year is particularly fascinating.

There appears to be a clear front runner in La La Land, nominated for the maximum two songs – “Audition” and “City of Stars.” Being a “movie musical” (yes, in quotations) the songs function in a very clear and direct way, allowing their effectiveness and relevance to the dramatic whole to be more objectively quantifiable. With two nominations, however, it runs the risk of cancelling itself out.

Furthermore, historically the academy has chosen songs by famous pop artists, which gives an edge to Justin Timberlake and Sting. Although THIS year, with the massive pop appeal of Hamilton, the prize could go to Lin-Manuel Miranda. So it’s really up in the air.

There is always going to be a large amount of subjectivity when evaluating a creative endeavor. Ideally, the law of averages works it out so that the opinions of an educated sample reflect the opinions of the educated majority.

Remember, though, that while the nominations are made by Academy members who are songwriters and composers, the winners are decided by the membership as a whole. (So beware Lin Manuel Miranda – the deciding vote may come down to a tone-deaf cinematographer.)

I’ve always thought that songs in motion pictures are a difficult thing to judge, and precisely because of that they are almost always a difficult award to predict. Add to that the bizarre and ever-changing rules which govern the nominations of songs, which results in years where only two songs (???) are even nominated.

I thought it might be interesting to go through the nominations and see how to evaluate them on the principles of the Academy.

According to the voting rules of the Academy: Continue reading The Anatomy of a Best Song

What Will Your Oscar’s Speech Be?

As I watch the various entertainment awards ceremonies that populate the first few months of the year, I am always struck by the depth of intention artists find in work that can sometimes feel like pure entertainment. I’m reminded that in everything we as actors do, we must find the greater purpose. Make it about something bigger than ourselves because that’s where the possibility for greatness lies.

Last night, during the SAG awards, many of the actors rose to the occasion of our times, understanding that the work they do does not exist in a vaccuum, but is rather reflected through the prism of the culture, giving their award an importance beyond simple recognition of talent or hard work. Continue reading What Will Your Oscar’s Speech Be?

Ryback scored short film “30 Nights” an Official Selection Broad Humor Film Fest, 2015

This Saturday, September 26th @ 5pm, come to Venice, CA to see this hilarious short film I scored. It’s an official selection of the Broad Humor Film Festival – celebrating funny films by funny women.

The festival is held at the Electric Lodge Performing Arts Center at 1416 Electric Ave, Venice CA, 90291.

Get ticket and schedule information here.

The Drugstoppers – a new DARE-ody

DAREleadRemember the DARE program from the 90’s? Remember how it stopped y’all from drinking and smoking pot?

Probably not.

The DARE program was part of a wildly ineffective craze in the 80’s and 90’s to get kids to “just say no” to drugs, which included over-the-top PSA’s including this turkey from 1993:

Well, now there is a brand new stage parody celebrating the nostalgic anti-drug hysteria of our childhood, and you can help us produce it in New York City!

Introducing The Drugstoppers – a new DARE-ody.

Druggstoppers_Final

The Drugstoppers is a new comedy, written by Gili Malinsky, wherein the audience plays the role of classroom, and the play itself is an over-the-top anti-drug program (complete with our own hilarious PSA’s.) Continue reading The Drugstoppers – a new DARE-ody

Make Art for a Change

Art and activism have a long history together. As art is a representation of the truth of the world around us, it can often force us to see things that we typically choose to ignore.

Sometimes – often times – this type of truth telling can cause trouble for the artist. Especially in countries where freedom of speech is not valued as it is in the west.

CL4qlDeWIAAT2Wo

In Iran, a 29-year-old painter named Atena Farghadani was sentenced to 12+ years in prison earlier this summer, for depicting members of the Iranian parliament as monkeys and cows. She created the artwork as a response to their vote to restrict contraception and ban certain birth-control methods. Even while in prison – where she suffered abuses and more injustices – she would draw on paper cups until they were no longer given to her. Continue reading Make Art for a Change