Anne Hamilton/Hamilton Dramaturgy


George Marcy and Carol Lawrence Team Up at Don’t Tell Mama

George Marcy

Congratulations to George Marcy, who will star in his new cabaret I WISH I WERE TWINS at Don’t Tell Mama in NYC on September 23rd and 29th.  Carol Lawrence, his good friend and co-star in Broadway’s original WEST SIDE STORY will direct.

This is the third autobiographical cabaret that I have worked on with George. I gave him some script development advice on the show. It is always a pleasure, and this is a show not to be missed. See you there!

http://www.broadwayworld.com/cabaret/article/Broadways-George-Marcy-and-Carol-Lawrence-Team-Up-for-New-Cabaret-Show-at-Dont-Tell-Mama-923-29-20130916

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BCWJ Profile of Maria Alexandria Beech

Profile of Maria Alexandria Beech

By Anne M. Hamilton, MFA

Maria Alexandria Beech is a playwright and librettist living in New York. She has written over fifteen full-length plays, several as a member of the Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers Group at Primary Stages Theatre, which co-produced her play LITTLE MONSTERS at Brandeis Theatre Company. Her full-length musical titled CLASS, with Karl Michael Johnson, was presented in a reading in May, 2012 at NYU.

AH: Alex, I know that you hold an MFA from Columbia University. Now you have a second, this time from NYU.

MB: It’s in musical theatre writing. It is a true honor. One would think that writing a musical and writing a play are similar processes, but in fact they’re not. They each require their own craft and their own knowledge base.

AH: What is CLASS about?

MB:  It’s based on a play that I wrote in the writers group at Primary Stages, about a girl who is struggling with alcoholism and she signs up for a summer school class in New Orleans in 1987.  And so this girl walks into the situation, and the professor has recently learned that she doesn’t have much longer to live.

It was a real challenge to adapt as a musical, in the sense that it is very much a play as it exists. It was an homage not only to a professor that I had, who was dying of cancer and who had to face students who wanted to use her illness against her, but it was an homage to professors and teachers I had had growing up.
AH: Tell us about your reading at NYU.

One of the things that I learned is that musical theatre is still very much about that well-made musical, that traditional structure of the well-made musical, and the opening number and the closing number. One of my goals is to still honor that tradition, but kind of also do other things and explore more. [I’d like to] not look at the book or the dialogue just as a bridge between the songs. I think the songs could be little kind of poems that stand alone.

Anne Hamilton has 22 years of experience in the professional theatre in NYC, across the nation, and internationally. She is available for script consultations and career advising through hamiltonlit@hotmail.com. Season Three of Hamilton Dramaturgy’s TheatreNow! launched with an interview with Kate Valk, a leading actress with The Wooster Group.

Download the article here: BCWJ Profile of Maria Alexandria Beech by Anne Hamilton



“What I’m Dreamin’ Of” from JULIA PO

Here’s a terrific song from Andrew Barrett and Ira Antelis’ musical JULIAN PO.

Hunky Bobby the barber is newly married, but dreams of something bigger. Take a listen: http://snd.sc/ZN4ruJ

Julian po photo

https://www.facebook.com/JulianPoNYMF



JULIAN PO at NYMF

Congratulations to Andrew Barrett, one of my TALFs (Theatre Artists I Love to Follow) and his writing partner, the composer Ira Antelis, whose musical JULIAN PO has been chosen for the New York Musical Theatre Festival’s 2013 Next Link Project. This project is NYMF’s primary writer service program. Titles will be seen at the tenth annual New York Musical Theatre Festival, which will run July 8-28 in New York City.

The Next Link Project, according to NYMF, “empowers emerging musical theatre writing teams as both artists and entrepreneurs by providing the training and relationships needed to help them move their musicals from readings to fully-realized productions and to advance their careers by maximizing the exposure they receive in the Festival. Ten of the Festival’s full production slots are reserved for participants in The Next Link Project.”

Participants attend a special weekend-long symposium, featuring seminars on fundraising, marketing, industry outreach and self-producing, led by industry professionals. The writing teams are introduced to potential collaborators, supporters and producers, and receive dramaturgical support from professional literary managers and dramaturgs. Finally, each Next Link show receives financial support in the form of a $5,000 subsidy toward its production in the Festival.

Julian Po
Book and Lyrics by Andrew Barrett
Music by Ira Antelis
Based on the book “La mort de monsieur Golouja” by Branimir Šćepanović
and the screenplay “Julian Po” by Alan Wade
“Julian Po is determined to end his life at sea, but he finds himself stuck in the smallest, strangest town in Middle America. While waiting for a connecting train, Julian makes friendships that start to sway him from his mission, with repercussions no one anticipated. This darkly comic tale is led by four modern-day muses and set to the quintessentially American sounds of pop, rock and bluegrass.”



BETWEEN TIME AND TIMBUKTU in L.A.

One of my favorite Theatre Artists I Love to Follow (TALFs) is having a reading of his new musical in Los Angeles on May 21st. Andrew Barrett and I have been working together since 1998, and I’m proud to say that I’ve often served as his dramaturg on both stage plays and musicals.

Here is a short article in which he describes the development of the piece, including its being one of four new musicals selected for development in the ASCAP/DreamWorks Musical Theatre Workshop in LA this past February under the mentorship of Stephen Schwartz.

Details for the Blank Theatre’s Living Room Series

Monday May 21st, 8pm
Stella Adler Theatre, 6773 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, CA

BETWEEN TIME & TIMBUKTU: A VONNEGUT MUSICAL
Book & Lyrics by Andrew Barrett
Music by Ira Antelis
Directed by Kirsten Sanderson

For more information and to RSVP: http://theblank.com/pages/livingroomseries.html

Anne Hamilton: Congratulations on this new development in the life of this musical. What are the new features you’ve added for this reading?

Andrew Barrett: The ASCAP/DreamWorks workshop is an astonishing experience for writers of the musical theatre.  You perform in front of an audience of 150 theatre lovers, mostly writers, and then a distinguished panel critiques you in front of everyone.  You need a thick skin!  The panelists who listen to your work and critique it are simply the best of the best.  In addition to Stephen Schwarz, we were fortunate to have such intelligent minds as Irene Mechhi, Bill Damaschke, Paul Lazarus and Mark Saltzman.  All offered invaluable insights.

However, they are only listening to up to 50 minutes of your show.  If you understand the structure of musicals you know why they do this.  A musical must have certain elements at very specific moments in the show.  I do not know one successful musical over the decades that has not followed these rules.

What makes a show unique is how it plays with this format.  But you must follow this format.  This includes the opening number that sets the audience on the path with the show (“I Hope I Get It” from A CHORUS LINE and “Comedy Tonight: from A FUNNY THING HAPPENED…).  Shortly after, your leading character must have the I Want song.  This is often mocked by haters of musical theatre (or lovers, such as the Orlando theme in BOOK OF MORMON).  Within the first hour, that leading character must face some sort of revelation that gives new perspective to what they want.  (“And I’m Telling You…” from DREAMGIRLS).

So we did our 50 minutes and we learned something important.  Our opening was spot on, and we had the audience with us right away.  But then we lost them because we were not clear about what our leading character wanted.  We waited too long to state it.  In addition, once he was off and running, he suddenly went from being very active to being passive, an observer of action he would later act upon.

All of the panelists picked up on this problem and gave us invaluable feedback to help improve things.  This new version of the script addresses those two major adjustments.  It also meant cutting one of our beloved characters.  But sometimes, as they say, you have to kill your babies.

AH: How did you come to write this musical?

AB: The truth is, I’ve been writing this musical my whole adult life.  I first fell in love with Vonnegut, like millions of others, when I was a teenager.  When I was 15, I discovered the published teleplay our musical is based on and I began trying to adapt it.  The longer I live the closer I get to understanding how to successfully tell this story.  More than anything else I have written it is so closely aligned dramatically and thematically to who I am.  This version has been in development since August of 2009.

We did an informal reading in Chicago, where my brilliant composer/ collaborator Ira Antelis lives.  That reading provided us with one of the most crucial components for moving forward – a producer!  A dear friend, Josh Felderstein, had done well with investing in the Broadway production of THE COLOR PURPLE.  He offered his financial support to develop our musical.

So we were able to do a big, fancy Broadway staged reading in January of 2010.  That afforded us two fantastic development opportunities.  The first was in November 2010.  We did a student workshop at The Boston Conservatory.  If you ever lose faith in musical theatre simply spend one day with the brilliant students and faculty at my undergrad alum.  That was a real privilege.

From there, Peter Flynn at The Hanger Theater in Ithaca, NY offered to develop the musical in their gorgeously renovated theatre in the heart of Kurt Vonnegut country (yes, he’s from Indiana, but he went to Cornel).  Kirsten Sanderson has since come on board to help us develop it further and her artistic home is The Blank Theatre in LA.  And so…here we are!

AH: What do you hope that people will take away from this reading?

AB: Kurt Vonnegut wanted as many people as possible to read his books.  He made his books easy to get into and an absolute joy to get through.  He did not use big, fancy words and sentence structure.  But underneath his hugely accessible style were strong Humanist ideas (Vonnegut was a Humanist).  His love of the idea of America was only second to his fear of its inevitable fate.  These are the same things Ira and I think about and feel.

We want audiences to have an easy time getting into our show and then have an absolutely joyous experience throughout.  But when they get home, perhaps something begins to stir.  They think about Stony and his mother and the world they live in and they start to think about their own world.  We hope they are completely entertained, and then surprisingly provoked after the fact.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to share our history and thoughts.  I hope this has proven informative and in some way to useful to anyone reading it.

AH: Thank you, Andrew. It’s always a pleasure to learn from you.

Download the interview here: Interview with Andrew Barrett – BETWEEN TIME AND TIMBUKTU



Niegel Smith Part of the Joe’s Pub New Voices Series
November 3, 2011, 2:23 pm
Filed under: NYC Theatre | Tags: , , ,

My prolific friend Niegel Smith is directing a new show starring Lady Rizo at Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater in NYC. Niegel and I worked on Andrew Barrett’s award-winning play RAINY DAYS AND MONDAYS for the NY Fringe Festival. It was later published by Samuel French as CIRCUITRY. Niegel’s new musical show features the talents of Lady Rizo.

Shows: 9:30 PM – November 04; 9:30 PM – November 11; 9:30 PM – November 18; 7:00 PM – November 16. Price: $20 in Advance; $25 at Door.

Show Description: Lady Rizo has recently been ordained by the temple of glitter. Aggressively feminine and possessing a distinct absence of inhibition, she will lead you in a night praising the power of song, giggles, madness and glamorous glances in this new collaboration with director Niegel Smith (Assistant Director of FELA).

The ‘Cabaret Superstar‘ (New York Magazine), comedienne and chanteuse revives the genre by creating vintage arrangements & theatrical explorations of pop songs from every decade. Lady Rizo (nee Amelia Zirin-Brown) co-created the cult caburlesque spectacular Lady Rizo & the Assettes in 2005 and has been in residence with Joe’s Pub with her sold out monthly show for over two years. She has collaborated on albums with Moby and Yo Yo Ma; and in 2010 won her first Grammy on an album with the acclaimed cellist. She is the Mistress of Ceremonies for current hotspot The Darby, a decadent modern supper club in the West Village.