We wrote this song for a friend years ago. She asked for something along the lines of “Unrequited Love”. We don’t have a lot of one-off songs, but we love this song. There’s been a couple of great performances of it, including Christen O’Leary at the Melbourne Festival concert, but this is a particularly great one by Sharone Halevy in the recent NYC concert of Australian work.
Reviews are funny things. When they’re bad, you say they don’t matter, but when they’re great…well, they feel really nice. After ten years, we’re kind of used to getting reviews – they do tend to even out after a while – but when we got our first reviews – ooh, the drama of it. The good ones were never good enough (But didn’t they SEE what we were trying to do, how IMPORTANT the story is, how CLEVER that song was) and the bad ones were like someone had quickly pulled your pants down, had everyone laugh at you, then punched you in the chest.
When you’re in New York, the cliche goes that it’s only the Times review that matters. Which is funny. Except that it’s true. Or seems to be. Off-Broadway shows don’t necessarily get their Times review the night after opening, ours took about a week, I think. And the producers would get more and more tense waiting for the verdict to be handed in. It didn’t matter that we already knew it was a third-string critic who’d attended – Sir Brantley wasn’t going to give the royal thumbs up or down – but still, there was a palpable feeling that the Times review would create a buzz around the show that couldn’t otherwise occur (the internet hadn’t really been mined for it’s magical word-of-mouth powers in 2002). So, night after night, we’d wait at the loading dock of the Times to get the first copy and see if it was in that day. The one night we didn’t go, of course, was the night it went in. And it was good. Pleasant. As well-written as a Taylor Swift song. Said nice things about the actors, the show, the production – nothing to get angry about, but nothing to get passionate about either. The world didn’t change, the world didn’t end.
We’d picked the Times up before breakfast, because we’d heard it was in – there’s a photo floating around somewhere that Matt took just as I opened the paper to read it. We read it. We ate our eggs.
For us, the most exciting part wasn’t what the review said, but the very fact that we’d written a show that actually got reviewed in the New York Times. No-one’s opinion could alter that fact.
Writing musicals for a career is not that smart a move. It’s the sort of career where you can make a killing but not a living. Ie, if your musical takes off, you can never need to write again, but really, the musicals that take off are the lucky few that make it to Broadway or the West End – so not the sort of thing you can take to your bank manager with confidence. But it’s pretty hard to find the time to write if you have a full-time career doing something else, ie advertising or lawyering – two of the careers I considered before I decided not to have a career. Not to mention that you need to stay in the theatre loop in order to have a chance at getting your work produced.
About four years ago, I began living one of my long-term goals – whatever dollar I’d make would be related to the entertainment world in some way. Matty had already been doing this since he left drama school, but I’d temped, found late night pizza delivery for people through Yellow Pages, relayed phone calls for the blind and various other jobs. Then I went and worked on Priscilla for a couple of year and I vowed that when the Oz tour wrapped up, I’d keep earning my living through writing and directing.
Which brings us to today’s topic; Photosynthesis. Matty and I write educational shows for schools – or edumusicals as we’re pushing the world to accept as a term. We use the skills that we’ve developed through writing our more traditional musicals and apply them to subjects that small casts take out to schools. It’s quite a challenge – you get a basic topic – say financial literacy (our last show Dollars and Sense) or the current one – ecological biodiversity – and look for what some of the essential lessons are, and ways to dramatise them – or at least make them catchy and entertaining.
So right now I’m reading about how photosynthesis occurs (I’m still not quite sure) and then thinking how to make a key point, a title and then a song. My friend Lisa had the idea Songs in the Key of Carbon – and I did like the feel of something a little coffee-house and laid back. So once I’ve digested the science of photosynthesis – the way a leaf takes in CO2 – I will pop out a song – the way said leaf does oxygen.
Why blog? The website – http://www.bryantandfrank.com – is designed to be useful, informative and aesthetically pleasing, but not really to interact with music theatre fans, so we thought a blog would be the way to go – to post funny videos, pics and random thoughts on what we do. Or don’t do…often.
So, blogosphere, here we are. Cheers!