the candy is the music

in which we recap pete's candy store, unearth a live 'angelize me' recording, and grudgingly thank zoom theatre

  
0:00
-4:59

Hey Hartlist,

ye olde Pete’s Candy Store in Williamsburg Brooklyn. I think the last time I played there my band was called the Sexy Children (long story) and can you believe there’s often a full drum kit on that stage? L to R: Chris Nattrass on bass, Danny Ursetti (not visible) on percussion, me, Nick Stephens on keys and flugelhorn yeah I said flugelhorn. thanks Sean McCabe for the photo.

The attached song is not from last night, it’s from our December 2019 concert at the Irish Arts Center featuring David Kornfeld on keys and Ben Arons on drums (and mix), but I unearthed it yesterday and it sounds good! Perhaps am including it here because we played that song last night without rehearsing it, and, well, there’s a reason I usually don’t allow that.

UPCOMING: GET TICKETS NOW FOR

OCTOBER 28, 9PM
@ The Cutting Room in Manhattan
The Hallow’s Eve Eve Eve Show

with, rumor has it, David Kornfeld returning to play keyboards…

But it was that kind of show! (Pete’s.) Loose and experimental and revised the night before due to the loss of King’s Hand Matt Gelfer, who was at home Feeling Unwell. And I was quite proud of us, especially Nick Stephens for stepping up as lead instrument in a few new places, and Chris Nattrass taking the mic (while Danny took the bass!! in a surprise game-time move) to sing “Get Ready Marie” by Patty Griffin. Also, sometimes it’s hard to motivate to go Play for the People when the world is _____ and your brain is filled up with something I can only describe as BLARGH. Pete’s is still the cutest venue in Brooklyn and a totally pro operation and a great place to really connect to an audience and share an experience.

Speaking of which, IRON JOHN streamed last night from the Manhattan School of Music. I haven’t seen it yet, and honestly I kind of enjoyed just knowing it was out there without having to sit in the metaphorical back row biting my nails and mouthing lyrics. I’m looking forward to getting together with the creative team to watch in the fall. Thank you to all who tuned in! And thank you to those who have expressed appreciation for the writing and the music.

While I was writing this, I got a text that really made me stop and think a moment. It was from someone who’d watched it and mentioned that they appreciated the show but couldn’t get past “the zoom thing” on both, it seemed, artistic and philosophical grounds (unclear). They seemed pretty riled up about it, and couldn’t understand why anyone would want to do that. (Spoiler: they don’t.)

Related: Tune in SUNDAY AUGUST 29 at 4PM ON YOUTUBE for the return of The Chrysalis livestream

Students were not allowed to perform live or be together for obvious reasons. The Manhattan School of Music hired the production company Super Awesome Friends to help make a virtual theatre piece as realistic and aesthetically interesting as possible, under the direction of Chloe Treat and MD Andrea Grody and dramaturg Shayla Gordon. I was able to write a couple of new scenes and Jacinth was able to hear it fully orchestrated for the first time (Thanks Nick and Clayton and David for your help!). Students not only sang and acted the parts, but played all the music as well; we did not send them tracks. It was an enormous undertaking that took a year. A few of them wrote to me to tell me how much the show meant to them. I have to assume they learned a lot, which is, actually, the point of it this time through.

Let’s be clear: every time I’ve scrolled into a think piece that’s like “Is Zoom the future of theatre?” I have wanted to throw my phone across the room. Because the answer is no. It’s always no. “Is live theatre dead?” No. “is this how we watch things now?” No. “Has video killed the radio star?” No. No. No. Live theatre is live theatre. IRON JOHN has been beautifully staged and - as we’ve said to everyone who’s ever called it ‘cinematic’ - it is a play, not a movie. (THOUGH IT SHOULD ALSO BE A MOVIE).

But.

In the past year, during a global pandemic that shut down all of live theatre at least for a while, and I had -as an actor, as a musician - no work, I had three - THREE - licensed productions of my writing, because of Zoom. Temple University, The Kennedy Center, and the Manhattan School of Music paid me and my partners, paid and hired actors and musicians and film makers and tech wizards, and made shows where there would have been no shows. Zoom and similar apps are the reason I had any work this year at all, and they made The Chrysalis (ie, my only way to connect with my audience) possible. And, by extension, kept me connected to my joy and my sanity and my soul in a time where that connection has been let’s say tenuous.

Thank you to everyone who just keeps going and works with what they’ve got. As an old friend used to say, “Take it easy… but take it.”

Postscript: Nick and I got into a cab last night after the show and the driver, after listening to us talk for five minutes, suddenly burst out, “When is Broadway coming back???”

We feel you, man.

See you AT THE CUTTING ROOM 10/28,

RH