Show & Tell 2016

January 22nd, 2016 josepharagon Comments off

Looks like these semi-annual updates haven’t been that “semi” lately. But rest assured, a lot has happened this past year. To wit:

The Mystery of Krummhorn Castle; or, the Rosalind House Orphans vs. the Army of Abominations

This was an original musical I wrote for the 2015 Winnipeg Fringe Festival, co-produced by Kiss The Giraffe Productions and White Rabbit Productions. In a departure from my previous shows, this one was specifically family-friendly. That’s right, no swearing, no sex, no death by gunfire or poison or asphyxiation, and nothing with the word “blood” in the title. It was a fun, charming piece about a group of orphans moving into a creepy old chateau, only to butt heads with a mad scientist who wants it for himself as his dream supervillain lair. It was a very special production, and I got to work with old friends and new faces alike. And we did pretty well for ourselves, too: well attended, well reviewed, and a couple of standing O’s for good measure. The Winnipeg Free Press said it was a “delightfully funny family-friendly musical” (★★★★½), while the CBC called it “a madcap, whip-smart and wildly entertaining production” and “family-friendly Fringe fare at its finest” (★★★★★). Here’s the musical accompaniment track for the opening number:

Danny, King of the Basement

This was a production by Manitoba Theatre for Young People of what is quickly becoming a Canadian classic by playwright David S. Craig. It tells the story of a young boy named Danny, who uses his imagination to help him deal with life’s troubles, of which Danny has more than his fair share. Director Ann Hodges tapped me once again for music and sound design. It was another terrific show that I was privileged to contribute to. Here’s a sample of some of the music:

Words and Deeds Leadership Award Gala: honouring the Asper Foundation

Well this certainly was a big to-do. This was a gala dinner in celebration of the community contributions of the Asper Family and the Asper Foundation. It was held at the RBC Convention Centre, and I was commissioned to write the opening number, which included a four-piece house band, two violinists, a cellist, a bodhran player, the singing group Vivace, the Winnipeg Singers, Sierra Noble, and a whole troupe of dancers. No big deal. Here’s what I came up with (the piece is called Look Around):

There, that should get you caught up. I’ll try my best to post the next bit of news before the earth completes another orbit. Till then!

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Show & Tell

December 1st, 2014 josepharagon Comments off

Time once again for the semi-annual blog post! It’s been a productive few months. Here’s some of what I’ve been up to…


MTYP’s teen drama Jabber successfully played to large young audiences at the Shaw Performing Arts Centre in late October, and as of this writing is touring to schools both within Winnipeg and throughout Manitoba. It also marks my first professional theatre scoring gig, and huge thanks to director Ann Hodges for giving me the opportunity to work on such a great show. Much of the music I was asked to write was dialogue-supporting background music, so there wasn’t a lot of room to be showy (which is of course the whole point), but there were a few spots where the music got to peek out and assert itself. It was a real treat to work on Jabber with so many talented people, and I’m very pleased with the final results. Here’s a sampling of some of the tunes:

Jewish Foundation of Manitoba’s 50th Anniversary Gala

I was also tapped to compose a piece for the 50th Anniversary Gala for the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba. It was a large and very swanky affair held at the Winnipeg Convention Centre, and I was approached to create a 3-minute long original piece as part of the festivities. So I composed a nice, intimate piece, which was beautifully performed by my colleague Paul de Gurse on piano, along with a string quartet from the Winnipeg Symphony. It also featured a soprano, a tenor, and two contemporary dancers (skillfully choreographed by Brenda Gorlick). So yeah, I was more than a little stoked. The piece is called “Let Beauty Grow”, and although I don’t have audio from the performance, you can listen to my sampler mock-up here:

So that’s some of what was keeping me busy for the past few months. What’s coming next? Stay tuned…

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The 2014 Winnipeg Fringe & Other Sundries

July 29th, 2014 josepharagon Comments off

My last news post was in December announcing the lottery results of the 2014 Winnipeg Fringe Festival, and here we are on the other side of it! Yeesh. But in my defense, there really wasn’t a whole lot happening between then and the start of Fringe execpt rehearsals, and who wants to hear about that?

Anyway, the 2014 Winnipeg Fringe was fabulous, and the 10th anniversary production of BLOODSUCKERS! The Musical was a big success. We played to large appreciative houses, got a 4 1/2-star review from the Winnipeg Free Press, were designated the Patrons’ Pick for the Tom Hendry Warehouse, and — most importantly — made a profit! Huge thanks to everyone on Team Bloodsuckers for such a wonderful experience. Can’t wait for the 20th anniversary production.

Next up: my first professional theatre scoring gig. I’ve been tapped by director Ann Hodges to compose music and design sound for MTYP’s production of Jabber, a play about a teenage Muslim girl navigating a new high school. Very excited about this one. Also, I’m still working on my commission for Prairie Theatre Exchange — a non-musical play provisionally titled How the Heavens Go about love, belief and string theory. Plus other top-secret things on the burner, including some new musicals!

That should get you up to speed. Stay tuned…

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Bloodsuckers 10th anniversary show at the 2014 Winnipeg Fringe!

December 17th, 2013 josepharagon Comments off

Freshly drawn at the 2014 Winnipeg Fringe Festival lottery, Kiss The Giraffe Productions will remount next July a special 10th anniversary edition of Bloodsuckers! The Musical, my very first musical comedy. Yup, that weird little vampire comedy I wrote on a lark is hitting double digits, and what better way to celebrate a decade’s worth of musical theatre than revisiting the show that started it all. So mark your calendars for July 16-27, 2014. We hope you can join us. In the meantime, here’s a taste of things to come:

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New SoundCloud Account!

November 8th, 2013 josepharagon Comments off

That’s right, I’ve finally gotten around to creating my own account on SoundCloud. This is where I plan to showcase some of my original music (in addition to my main site). I’ve got a starter kit of tracks up there for now, with many more to come in the future. So please visit my SoundCloud home and follow me if you are so inclined. In the meantime, here’s a taste of the kind of stuff I plan to feature:

Categories: Music, News Tags: gets a face lift!

October 1st, 2013 josepharagon Comments off

Hey, it's better than one of those stupid "under construction" signs...It’s been three years since the last major upgrade to this site, so it was due for some changes. The new design is bigger, cleaner, lighter, and hopefully easier to read and navigate. I also added a new Design section to show off my graphic work. So please take a look around the site, read about my musicals and plays, listen to some music samples, glance at my portfolio, make yourself at home. I hope you enjoy the new look!

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Can I Stop Writing This Show Now?

May 6th, 2013 josepharagon Comments off

bloodless3_loresShort answer: No.

Long answer: Yes, for a while.

April 2013 has come and gone, and so has the third production of Bloodless: The Trial of Burke and Hare, lovingly nicknamed “Bloodless 3.0″ by the wonderful people at White Rabbit Productions, who remounted it. Significant changes were made to script and score since the Theatre 20 production in Toronto last October, including the addition of new songs and the restoration of old ones. It was directed by my longtime colleague Sharon Bajer, and presented at Winnipeg’s newest performance venue, Le Cercle Moliere. The space has modular seating, and was arranged in an alley-style configuration for our production. This made the show very intimate and immediate, with the audience facing each other and “becoming” the jury at the trial or the students at the anatomy lecture.

“Bloodless 3.0was well-received — Good turnout, good buzz, a few sell-outs, and a very favourable review in the Winnipeg Free Press. Even Adam Brazier, Bloodless’s Toronto director, flew in to see it and was very much encouraged by the show’s evolution. What’s next for it? Not a clue. There’s more work to be done towards version 4.0, but for now I’m content to take a little vacation from it and let it cool.

In other news, if you’re an avid reader of The Sondheim Review (TSR), the quarterly magazine devoted to all things Sondheim-y, may I direct your attention to page 21 of the upcoming issue (Summer 2013). There you will find my disproportionately huge mug and about 1,700 words of semi-informed prattling authored by Yours Truly. I was approached by TSR to contribute an essay for their “Following Sondheim” series, where musical theatre writers get to wax with varying degrees of eloquence upon Sondheim’s influence on their work. The reason they would tap an unknown schlub like me to write an article for them is still a mystery, but — like any good Canadian — I was just happy to be asked. I think it’s an okay article myself, but had I considered that one of those avid readers of The Sondheim Review is Sondheim himself, I might have finessed it a little more. Oh well.

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2012/09/19: First readthrough

September 20th, 2012 josepharagon Comments off

Survived the first readthrough! Great group of actors. Some of those songs I was hearing sung for the first time

From the read, we could tell that Act I is solid, but Act II could use some tightening up. The Act II opener needs a bit more drive to it, and some lyric tweaks to the Finale are in order. So nothing serious so far, just touch-ups

We had a short design presentation before the read.  Our set designer, Beth, told us about the metal mezzanine we’re borrowing from Sheridan College’s production of Sweeney Todd (which Adam directed), and our costume designer Melanie had some sketches out, which Adam said looked like they were straight from a Ralph Bakshi cartoon. However this show turns out, at least it’ll look cool.

The afternoon was spent staging “Worse than Death”, the opening number. It’s being choreographed by our associate director Linda Garneau. Not really dancing, but some very cool and subtle movement. Linda and Adam worked on the Sheridan Sweeney together. When I saw that production, there was one neat move that consisted of just a small quick head turn. Doesn’t sound very exciting, but when thirty people turn their heads en masse in perfect synchronization, it’s downright creepy. And they’re using a similar style for “Worse than Death” — small but potent minimalistic movement.

Busy day tomorrow. Looks like we’ll be tackling a whole lotta scenes.

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2012/09/18: First full-cast rehearsal

September 18th, 2012 josepharagon Comments off

I arrived in Toronto on Sunday. Adam (Brazier, our director) had already rehearsed a full week with the four principals (Evan, Eddie, Trish and Jan), and today was our first rehearsal with the full cast.

It was nice to finally meet them — all 14 of them. Along with our creative and production teams, as well as some Theatre 20 admin staff, there was a small army present today. We didn’t do a full readthrough because Evan, our Burke, had a film gig. So Jason (Jestadt, our musical director) used today to teach everyone the large group numbers, namely the openers and closers of both acts. Today’s takeaway: the large numbers are lyrically very dense and lyrically very bleak. The company spent all day singing dark, angry mob songs with lines like “Kill him! Hang him!” and “Die, villain, die!”

At the end of the day, Jason had to assure everyone, “There really are lighter moments in this show. Just not in anything we’ve sung today.”

First readthrough tomorrow. Gonna be interesting…

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My Production Blog

September 18th, 2012 josepharagon Comments off


All right… Due to the pestering of my ever-persistent friends, I have decided to write a running blog detailing my Bloodless experience here in Toronto. This blog will not appear on my main page. If you want to see it, go to my WordPress blog at Yes, I’ve had a WordPress blog all along, but so far I’ve used it only as a convenient way to post news, and never as — y’know — a blog.

I’ll try to post as often as I can, but I can’t promise to post every day, since I may be otherwise occupied with things like… oh, maybe working on my show. And I can’t promise it’ll be entertaining either. But hopefully it will satisfy everyone’s curiosities.

So click here and be amazed!*

* amazement not guaranteed

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