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:

Jennifer Pacenza, writing for “Bravo, Bloomington!” wrote

Sometimes a piece of art enters your life at the exact right moment. The experience brings your life and your place in the world into focus. Brett Ryback’s musical Joe Schmoe Saves the World is just such a piece. The mirror it holds up to modern American culture reflects back an all too real image that is at once critical and hopeful. With relatable characters, hard-hitting imagery, and a soundtrack I’ve been listening to on repeat for almost a week now, Joe Schmoe Saves the World transforms and inspires. 

George Walker, reporting for Indiana Public Radio, described it as

It’s a roughly polished workshop production with imaginative direction and a talented and committed cast…Music is central to the play’s plot and “Listen to the Music” comes in two parts. The first champions the space, the respite that music — lyrical moments, dance club beats, word rap and pop-rock — can offer. It returns with new fervor mixed with the chant of “no more silence” as an energizing and rallying cry for all, a call to say something.

In the Indiana Daily Student, writer Clark Gudas said of the music:

The live music and rap-rock vocals are fluid and natural. In some instances, the songs have a feeling similar to spoken verse and can even take on a conversational air.

Additionally, in the middle of our very short run, the head of The Center for the Study of the Middle East at IU came to the show and asked if they could buy a late sponsorship to be mentioned in the curtain speech the next two performances. It was a priceless endorsement of the show, and we were grateful to have brought extra funding to the program.

Photo credit: Amy Osajima

In Defense of the Unknown Actor

Anonymity is a powerful strength. You often see it used to terrible effect by trolls on social media and comment boards. But it can be used for good by famous writers who take on a pseudonym in order to write outside their “accepted” genre. It’s also the reason that masks are so intriguing. We don’t know who it is behind the facade.

Another way this can be used, but often isn’t, is in casting. Producers, directors, and writers are often celebrity-obsessed. Celebrity being in many ways the antithesis of anonymity. Celebrities, of course, allows any project to more easily attract funding. But it can sometimes get in the way of allowing the audience to really see and believe the character.

I had this issue when I saw the movie La La Land. Continue reading In Defense of the Unknown Actor

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

Eligibility and the Kleban Prize

There’s a certain pessimism that allows you to be blasé about not receiving the grants/awards you apply for as a writer. It’s the pessimism that says,  “Chances are I won’t win this, but I’ll try anyway.” Then when you aren’t selected you can say to yourself, “See, I thought so.” Or if you are, you can be pleasantly and genuinely surprised/honored.

I wrote my musical Joe Schmoe Saves the World in reaction to not winning the Richard Rodgers award one year, dissatisfied with the artists who had.  I thought of the Stravinsky quote: “The one true comment on a piece of music is another piece of music.” Resentment/bitterness/sour grapes can be transformed into something truly worthwhile.

Often I find I can learn a lot from people who receive grants/awards for which I also applied. It introduces me to a new type of work or a new way of thinking. It gives me inspiration to see other peers finally receive due attention. It forces me to pay attention to what people are responding to and strive for greatness in my own work.

On the other hand – sometimes it’s just down right frustrating. Continue reading Eligibility and the Kleban Prize

When Life Hands You a Pile of Poo…

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There are people in your phone and they have something they’d like to sing to you.

That’s right – all those emojis you use to embellish or simplify your texts are people, too, and now there’s a brand new musical in the works about them. Yes, even the pile of poo.

Thankfully, their songs have music and lyrics by Keith Harrison and a book by Keith and Laura Harrison. (Yes, they’re married. And yes they’re adorable.)

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A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of hosting an event called Musi-CAL. Presented by the Festival of New American Musicals, Musi-CAL is a bimonthly concert series featuring material from new and in-progress musicals written by Southern Californian composers, lyricists, and bookwriters.

The final presentation was Keith and Laura’s show, Emojiland. I can’t even describe the energy that filled the room with each song they presented. Everyone in attendance was blown away by the quality and production-value of their work. It was simply stellar.

I met Keith and Laura separately Continue reading When Life Hands You a Pile of Poo…

OSF Breaking Down Barriers

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The Oregon Shakespeare Festival proves once again that it is America’s foremost regional theatre company with the launch of its facilitator training program on inclusion and equity issues called artEquity.

As organizations continue to seek new ways to connect with their changing audiences, it will become increasingly important for artists and organizations alike to learn how to break down barriers of gender, race, and class. The problem is that these barriers are often invisible to the artists and organizations.  That’s why this type of training is so integral to making real and lasting change. Continue reading OSF Breaking Down Barriers

MURDER Receives OCC Nomination

2014-awards-season1MURDER FOR TWO was honored yesterday with a nomination for an Outer Critics Circle Award for Best New Musical Off-Broadway.  This is in addition to my co-star Jeff Blumenkrantz’s recent Lucille Lortel nomination for Best Actor in a Musical.

I’m very proud of our little show, and if you haven’t yet seen it – then what are you waiting for?

Yesterday was also an exciting day because we participated in the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids Easter Bonnet Competition.  I was selected as the member of our cast to wear our bonnet.  Go figure.

photo 1Note: this is NOT the bonnet I wore, and also this is not how I felt wearing it.

photo 2 photo 3 Jeff and I had a fun time hanging around the Minskoff theatre with the, um, cast members of The Lion King.

But the really cool part of the evening was when I unexpectedly ended up on stage with Bryan Cranston, Idina Menzel, Fran Drescher, and Denzel Washington.

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And I just have to thank the cast of After Midnight, who was so nice to allow me to get into a pic with Bryan Cranston after they won some award for something or other.

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The Best 3-for-1 Deal in NYC

2F6B1BB02-A0BC-EA96-0BF8CE001A137B36.jpg.pagespeed.ce.GtMymtHlpJ If you’re looking for an excuse to see MURDER FOR TWO – there ain’t a better one than this.

Next Monday, April 7th, following our performance you’ll get to see work from 2 emerging musical theatre composers.  Alexander Sage Oyen and ME!  I will be presenting a condensed concert of my musical comedy THE TAVERN KEEPER’S DAUGHTER.

For the price of one ticket – you get 3 shows.  Frankly, it’s criminal.

And a portion of all ticket sales goes to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Use code MRMUSMON20 to get $37 tickets (normally $87) and join  Alexander and myself and a cast of massive Broadway talent (i.e. Lesli Margherita, Taylor Trensch, Todd Buonopane, Julia Mattison, Preston Sadleir, Leo Ash Evans, and so on) for a GREAT Monday night out.

Don’t Be the Dope

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I’m THRILLED to announce my first non-Murder for Two-related appearance in New York City!

On Saturday April 19th at 11pm, join me for a late-night party at 54 Below as I share SONGS i WROTE – an evening of highlights from my songbook.

Here’s what you’ll get to see:

Alex Brightman, Janet Krupin, George Salazar, and Mary Kate Morrissey.

JSSW CastThis sexy foursome singing songs from my latest musical-in-progress JOE SCHMOE SAVES THE WORLD – including 4 Brand-new never-before-heard songs!

Melissa van der Schyff, Claybourne Elder, Lesli Margherita, Julia Mattison, and Justin Matthew Sargent.

TKD CastThis foxy fivesome rocking tunes from my musical THE TAVERN KEEPER’S DAUGHTER.

Dakin MatthewsAnd a guest appearance by the guy from True Grit, Gilmore Girls, ROCKY Broadway, and pretty much every other TV show you’ve ever seen: Dakin Matthews.

Don’t be the dope who missed outGRAB YOUR TICKETS HERE!

 

Ridiculously Talented at 54 Below

Screen shot 2013-11-21 at 10.32.15 AMNext Monday, Tony Award-Winning Composer/Lyricist William Finn will host an evening of songs at 54 Below featuring the music of Brett Ryback.

The concert, titled Songs by Ridiculously Talented Composers and Lyricists You Probably Don’t Know But Should will take place next Monday, December 16th, at 9:30pm at 54 Below.

Performers will include Elizabeth Stanley, Alysha Umphress, Taylor Trensch, Rebecca Naomi Jones, and many more.

Following the concert, there will be an open-mic, where I will feature some BRAND NEW, NEVER BEFORE HEARD MUSIC.

Come see us! Tickets are $30-40, with a $25 Food/Drink Minimum.

(If you subscribe to my mailing list before next Monday, I’ll send you a code to get $5 off the cover charge in the main dining room!)