Tuesday, August 28


OK, this is really funny, poor girl:

Thursday, August 23


I spent the bulk of yesterday in the recording studio laying down a CD of my latest musical Ordinary Days, with the uncannily ridiculous talents of Jill Abramovitz, Jared Gertner, Leah Horowitz, Michael Hunsaker, and piano-meister Alex LeFevre.

I brought my camera to take some fun, "We Are The World"-like photos of the session, but naturally, I didn't check the camera battery before I came, and it was dead on arrival. (That's something so telling about this digital age; you spend oodles on really fancy, amazing technology, only to be foiled by something like battery power...!)

Anyway, I did manage to take -- with my cellphone -- this pic of Leah doin' her thang...

...though it's not a particularly fun, exciting, or musical photo, and I will say the session was definitely fun, exciting and musical. A picture's worth a thousand words, but maybe not a thousand musical notes...

We're back in the studio early next week to finish up the disc, and then hopefully I'll have some spankin' new tracks to share!

Friday, August 17


During a recent stretch of boredom, I took to Google and found this blogpost, on the topic of a former teacher of mine. It might not be terribly amusing to most, but those who knew David will be in stitches, because it's so quintessentially him.

David Bucknam was a musical theater performance teacher I had my freshman year of college. Through a random twist of fate, which I'm still not sure of to this day, I was placed as an incoming freshman into a group of older students at Playwrights Horizons Theatre School, the NYU-based studio where I did most of my undergrad theater training. The older kids got to take different classes than the rest of the freshman, including this musical theater performance class taught by David.

It's not surprising that his former students have littered the web with anecdotes from his class; he had the wonderful knack for being both droll and inspirational at the same time. I, too, had a conference with him, as described in the above link, and I actively remember it to this day. David was meeting with us one-on-one, and so the rest of the class hung out in a studio across the hall while the conferences were going on. Before I went in, I was playing through someone's song on the piano in the other room, and I went into my conference and sat down on the couch with David. He looked at me and asked, "Who was that playing the piano over there?" and I said it was me, and he put his coffee down on the ground and said, with striking earnestness, "You don't play the piano like that without an unbelievable amount of passion." I sort of shrugged and said thanks, and he said, "You've got something inside you. I think music's gonna bring it out."

The main reason why it was kismet that I got to take David's class my freshman year was because, that spring, David committed suicide. He had some sort of lymphatic cancer, and it grew increasingly debilitating, and David couldn't teach, or make music, and I guess that was too much for him to lose. It was a strange and weepy time, because suicide is always so difficult to understand, let alone for a college freshman, and the tragedy of someone so gifted and charismatic and young (he was probably in his early 30s) was one that struck his students particularly deeply.

At the end of the semester, there was a memorial service for David across the street from our school at the Public Theater. We all knew David was a composer, but we had never heard any of David's music. The memorial was a concert of his work, performed by a group that included then-unknowns Raul Esparza and Julia Murney. This concert was literally a turning point in my life; I was heading up to Ithaca, NY to spend the summer at the Hangar Theatre, and that's when, with David's words and music still tickling my ears, I really started writing.

Every now and then, I think of David in a very present way. In many ways, literally and not-so-literally, he was the catalyst for why I'm doing what I'm doing now. In one of my earliest classes with David, he assigned me a song called "Cast of Thousands," written by Craig Carnelia. It was a song being sung by a guy reflecting on his life; he looks back on it and doesn't see much of note--the street he grew up on, a crack in the sidewalk--but slowly what he begins to see is all the people that have touched his life and how much they've shaped him. I was 17 when I got this song and I totally didn't get it. Not one bit. I came into class with some horrible backstory about how the guy had amnesia and so couldn't really remember anything about his past, and that was why he was singing the song. I shared this and David promptly emptied his water bottle over my head.

Now it's 10 years later, and Craig Carnelia, the guy who wrote that song, is one of my own songwriting mentors. I finally understand that song, and realize that most of my own writing is obsessed with the same idea of adding up, that in life and art, events, stories, and memories that seem fragmented always amount to something. If I look back like the guy in that song, I don't know if I'd see a cast of thousands just yet, but among the few in the bunch would be David Bucknam, probably sitting in the back, giving me a thumbs up, and chatting up the cuter ghosts of my past.

Thursday, August 9

Ethan Frome sings.

Well, in my world he does.

The creative and producing team behind my Ethan Frome musical ("Team Frome," as we are affectionately known) has started a blog chronicling our ever-creeping journey towards an off-Broadway debut in a new blog, which I've helpfully added to my BlogRoll. The cool thing (to me) about this particular project is that the creatives (the writers, the director, the orchestrator, the MD) as well as the co-producers (Lively Arts Productions) are all under 30, and we've made it our mission to "live the dream" with this show and do it all ourselves (with, of course, the support of the York Theatre Company, an off-Broadway non-profit that's been around since before most of Team Frome's parents even met).

I'll probably be contributing some blog posts to Ethan Frome Sings as we continue our rocky quest for the holy grail -- er, I mean, an off-Broadway production. So, I hope you'll check it out every now and then. It's like a reality show, except it's actually real!