Looks like these semi-annual updates haven’t been that “semi” lately. But rest assured, a lot has happened this past year. To wit:
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:
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:
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!
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:
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…
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…
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:
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!
Short 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 3.0” was 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.
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 www.josepharagon.com/blog. 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
It’s happening! Rehearsals for the Theatre 20 production of Bloodless: The Trial of Burke and Hare are starting, and I’m off to Toronto for a month. Much has happened since my last post (yeah, no kidding Joseph, your last post was in January)…
We’ve had two workshops — one in mid-April and one in August. The April workshop was three weeks long, and I got to work with many of Theatre 20’s founding artists, as well as members of their Emerging Artist Ensemble. That was an amazing experience. We workshopped Act One, and presented it in a formal reading, which whetted everyone’s appetites and generated some excitement. In August, we worked for a week with the wonderful and talented students of Sheridan College’s Musical Theatre program, and hammered out Act Two. Needless to say, the script has changed significantly from its previous incarnation. Scenes have been switched and revamped, old songs have been cut, new songs have been written — I even deleted a major character (sorry, Josh). But I believe it’s all for the better, and although there’s still a little more writing to do, we’re in great shape to launch into rehearsals.
There have also been some changes on the production end since I last posted. First, the dates have changed. The production runs October 12-28, 2012, with previews beginning October 9. Second, you’ll notice that Colm Wilkinson has handed over the directing reins to Theatre 20’s artistic director Adam Brazier. This is actually a good thing, because Adam and I get along famously and we’re on the same page almost all the time. But Colm is still on as our creative consultant (”Colm”… as if we’re buddies or something), and he’s given us some invaluable guidance so far.
So that should get you up to speed. If you’re going to be in Toronto this October, be sure to check it out. Visit Theatre20.com for tickets and information.