Thursday, October 15, 2009

On the Brink of Baby

I wanted to write a little update and let you all know why I haven't been blogging as frequently lately. You see, any day now I'm going to have a baby. This little person will be the second child in our family, and in addition to the usual getting-ready-for-baby activities that precede a birth (buying and cleaning baby gear, stocking up on bottles, checking out the latest model of stroller, sorting hand-me-downs, etc.), we've also got our hands full preparing our four-year old for the changes that are about to come into her life.

I think we're all set. I mean you don't know until you're doing it, but I think everyone's as prepared as possible for the crying, sleeping, nursing mushball that's about to arrive. Unless we're not, and I guess we'll find that out soon enough, too.

In terms of all the mommy stuff that's coming, I feel like I've got it under control. After all, I've done it before. What makes me nervous is the professional stuff that's about to change, and that's the subject of this lone blog entry for the month of October. I remember when Molly was born I was overwhelmed with the sense that I had given up my professional life and my creative life in exchange for family, and though I loved being a mom, I was terrified that I was never going to figure out again how to be a writer. I remember the first several months being a blur of day and night (I wasn't sleeping through either so they felt the same) and that my emotional life was so wrapped up in the few rooms of our house that I simply didn't have the energy to care about anything else. I didn't read the news. I didn't listen to music, and I for sure couldn't concentrate on anything for more than about ten minutes at a time.

The amount of concentration and commitment it takes to write a song that's anything other than gibberish is pretty major, and months into this mommy thing I remember fearing that it might never come back. I know lots of moms happily re-define themselves and their careers after their kids are born, but I didn't want to re-define myself. I wanted to get back to caring about music, and I had no idea when (or how) that was going to happen.

What I can say now is that it did eventually happen, that it happened gradually, and that it required unbelievable amounts of juggling and negotiating and learning to get back to something that feels like normal. Everyone figures things out differently, but for me it meant letting go of the bad-mommy guilt and paying for a babysitter for a few hours so I could sit in front of a piano, answer my emails, return my calls, and try to string together coherent sentences. (In a few cases I even made those sentences rhyme.)

Maybe it's good that I have all this foresight this time around, or maybe it's terrifying. I'm staring at the unfinished things on my to-do list knowing that it'll be months before I get back to them. I'm already starting to feel like a person who used to play the piano, as it's been nearly a month since I did any significant work on the instrument, and the baby isn't even here yet. But I'm choosing to trust that the piano isn't going anywhere, and Broadway isn't going anywhere, and even if you people go away for a while, you'll come back when the time comes and I have something new to say.

And in the meantime, I've got a baby to raise.

See you on the other side. Thanks for being here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

September Song

It's September, and I'm trying to stick to my goal of releasing one new piece of sheet music each month. This month's release is my setting of Shakespeare's Sonnet 29. Like so many of my pieces that aren't from shows, I wrote this one at the behest of my friend Joel Fram for one of the New Voices Collective concerts in New York many, many years ago. The first person to perform it was George Dvorsky, who sang it beautifully at that NVC concert at Symphony Space. And then my friend Damian Humbley sang it in a concert in London and knocked my socks off. Most recently, Tituss Burgess sang it in one of my concerts at Birdland. (Tituss transposed it up a fourth, because he's super-human.) In my master plan, this song will be fully orchestrated and released on my next album, which I'm hoping to finish in 2010. In the meantime, though, the sheet music is finally available, and you can get it here. And just for fun, here's video of Tituss being amazing.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Good Enough is Not Good Enough

Sometimes you see a performance of a piece of theater or a piece of music and it's so inspiring that it makes you want to work harder so that you can be as good at your craft as those performers are at theirs.

And sometimes you don't.

I've had a number of frustrating experiences lately where I went to an event and was completely underwhelmed by what I was seeing. I'm not talking about watching a high school play where the actors are still learning their craft, or a youth piano recital or anything like that. I'm talking about attending full on professional performances that charge a lot of money for the tickets, and I came home thinking that the pianist hadn't bothered to learn the notes or the singer hadn't given any thought to the words in his/her song. And it doesn't make me want to work harder. It makes me want to give up music and open a bakery.

I know nobody's perfect. And, just so you don't think this is a self-inflating kind of essay, I can't think of the last time I performed something in public that didn't have numerous mistakes in it. But I get the sense that a lot of times, people work on material until it's "good enough." And knowing the difference between "good" and "good enough" is what makes an artist great, I think.

I recently heard a song that was a simple little ballad written to be the intimate and subtle opening of show about a complex and heartbreaking love triangle, and the male singer had transposed it into a key so that he could belt a big ole D-flat (!) at the end. He was passionate and overwrought and, actually, he sang it pretty well, technically. But, emotionally, I thought, "WHY???" I felt like he completely missed the point of the song and was basically just singing it to show me he had really high notes. I came home and told Jason about it, disappointedly, and I said, "You know those hot-dog eating contests where someone can eat like 41 hotdogs in 60 seconds? Well, even if I could do that, I'm not sure I would ever feel it necessary to prove it to you."

(Thank goodness.)

It's a question of taste. I'd be happy to hear that guy sing a high D-flat if he picked material that demanded it. Another concert I attended required the pianist to play an entire evening of one composer's work, and that composer was in the audience. And number after number went by, songs I've known for years, and the pianist proceeded to botch one after the other. The composer had his game face on, smiling and nodding, but I thought it must feel like torture to him. And that poor pianist. Why on earth would he accept this job and then not LEARN THE MUSIC? What's the story there? Did he really think nobody could tell the difference? Did he think what he was playing was good enough?

Good enough is not good enough. Not in cases like this. I'll close with this story.

The most life-changing job I ever had, both professionally and personally, was working as the assistant conductor of the national tour of PARADE. It was on that tour that I met Jason, my husband, and it was the first job I ever had at the Broadway level. Legendary director (who has 20 Tony Awards in his office) Hal Prince was in the room, and I was the pianist. Now, I'm a really good sight reader and I've gotten by for a lot of years by sight reading my way through things and learning them as I go. But PARADE is a really hard score -- harder than any show I'd ever played before -- and I deceived myself into thinking I didn't have to practice it as much as I would have practiced my classical music for my juries back at Vanderbilt.

So one day I saw on the schedule that I was playing a rehearsal for a number I'd never played before, and I thought, oh, I'll be fine. I glanced it over and sat down at the piano. Hal Prince was staging the actors. Jason was conducting. I was at the piano, and on one page turn I failed to notice a meter change leading into the next page. I turned the page, missed the meter change, and the rehearsal ground to a halt because nobody could figure out where the downbeat was. My fault entirely. Hal glared at Jason. Jason glared at me. I felt like the sky had fallen on my head, and I knew exactly what had happened.

That night I called Jason on the phone and said, "I think maybe I'm out of my league. I think maybe I'm not a good enough pianist. I wasn't prepared. I let you down. I'm so sorry." And he said something to me like, "Stop apologizing, go practice, and don't let it happen again." And I didn't. That "teachable moment" changed my life.

Good enough is not good enough. Let's not all beat ourselves up at the things we can't get right. Let's just work on them until we can.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Two New Songs on musicnotes.com

As you know by now, I've now got a deal with musicnotes.com for digital downloads of my sheet music. This relationship came about because of the proliferation of unauthorized trade of sheet music (mine and others) on the internet, and I needed a way to make sure that the music you guys were looking for was out in the world, accessible, legal, and affordable. Musicnotes.com came to my rescue, and I'm trying to return the favor by launching a new piece of sheet music there every month.

Here's July and August. Author and lyricist Bil Wright and I wrote several songs for a musical called LIZAN. The piece never came to fruition and he and I eventually stopped writing it together. (It's my understanding that he's now writing it with another composer.) But before we parted ways we came up with a few songs that I really love, and I managed to get a few demos made with performers whom I also love.

Here are two songs that I thought had the strongest chance of surviving outside of the world of the show. The first, called "Someday A Man" is performed here by NaTasha Yvette Williams. She's been in a gazillion Broadway shows (Gone With The Wind, The Color Purple, Cinderella, Suessical, and Parade) and she has a whole career as a gospel singer, too. Read her bio, y'all. This is a girl who majored in MATH.

The second song is called "At This Turn In The Road Again" and is sung here by Keith Byron Kirk. If I've ever had a muse, Keith is it. I met him at the stage door after his performance in A NEW BRAIN and told him that his voice moved me so much I felt like I knew him already. I hope it didn't sound as corny then as it does now. But he seemed to like that, and eventually we became friends. His other show credits include Elegies, The Civil War, The Color Purple, King David, Miss Saigon, and, naturally, Parade. He's learned almost everything I've ever written for the male voice, he's done readings of several of my shows, concerts of my music, and he sang in my wedding. And currently, he's getting a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies in Theatre and Drama at Northwestern. So he's smart, too. I adore him.

Anyway, you can listen to the songs below, and then you can find the sheet music here. Bil wrote all the lyrics, I wrote all the music, and that's me playing the piano. Enjoy.


Georgia Stitt and Bil Wright

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

All KNOCKED UP photos and future bookings











Susan Egan and I had a blast playing the Metropolitan Room in New York City on August 1st and 2nd! In case you missed our show, we've got several more dates coming up.

"All Knocked Up! (again)"
From Tony Nominations and major Film & TV credits to critically acclaimed CDs and world concert tours, these two talented ladies are, today, ENORMOUS figures in the Entertainment Industry. Come join these gal pals for a raucous evening as they sing their own tunes and others amidst juicy gossip and the occasional pee break.

August 29th, Orange County, CA
August 30th, Catalina's, Hollywood, CA
September 11th, Pasadena, CA

and we're making small appearances (one song only) at the following concerts:

August 17th, Ryan Black's 88's Cabaret: A Tribute to Stephen Sondheim, Los Angeles, CA
August 22nd, Festival of New American Musicals celebrates Stephen Schwartz, Brentwood, CA

Click here to get info on all the shows.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Kid Stuff

Those of you who read this blog for the musical theater might want to take a break this week. I'm a little bit distracted by the six-month old baby bump that has stolen my midriff.

I had a little panic last week, 24 weeks into my second pregnancy, because a friend of mine said she wanted to get me a gift and she asked me what I needed. I smiled politely and said, oh no, we're all set. We kept everything from the first baby and so we don't need anything.

"You don't need ANYTHING?" she asked. "Not bottles, not diapers, not burp cloths, not bibs, nothing?"

And then my heart started palpitating. Because though I had really gotten excited about being pregnant again, I hadn't yet given a whole lot of thought to the fact that we were actually going to HAVE ANOTHER BABY.

My mom flew in. We went through all the baby clothes that had been stored in the basement, washed them, sorted them, organized them. We moved furniture so the baby now actually will have a place to sleep. And I started a list of what we still have and what we need to replace. I had forgotten how much STUFF a baby requires.

Truth is, we're in really good shape, and I feel much more prepared now that I've started "nesting." I'm just organized enough that I can get back to work and maybe even be productive for three more months before all hell breaks loose. But since we've been thinking about it, I wanted to share with you some of the amazing kid things that have been helpful for us. THIS IS NOT A REQUEST FOR GIFTS. We already HAVE these things. I just wanted you to know about them because they have made our lives better.

1. The Alarm Clock
I know this isn't a BABY item. But as soon as my daughter started sleeping in the "big girl bed" we realized that she could get OUT of the big girl bed whenever she wanted, and that was usually much earlier than we were ready for her to be up. This alarm clock changes colors at the pre-set time, and you just teach your kid not to get out of bed until it's green. The clock glows yellow all night -- a lovely nightlight -- and then when the "alarm" goes off, it changes to green. If the kid sleeps through it, so be it. But if the kid wakes up early, she knows to stay in bed (or in our case, at least in her room) until it turns green. My daughter's first words of the day are usually "IT'S GREEN, MOMMY! IT'S GREEN!" (I'm told there is an actual alarm function, but we've never needed it. Kids wake up early, y'all.)

2. The Mesh Feeder
Okay, a toddler item. I was surprised everyone in the world didn't have these. When your kid is transitioning from baby food to solid food, you can put small bites of real food (especially fruits and vegetables) into the mesh bag and they chew on it. Good for teething, good for nutritious snacks, and you don't have to worry about choking. Every time I used one some other mom would stop me on the street and say "where did you find that?" Now I think they're everywhere. Smart invention.

3. Tickety Tock
Molly's favorite book, and mine, hands down. Okay, so we're biased. Daddy wrote it. Mary Grand Pré illustrated it. (She did the Harry Potter books, and you can recognize her style.) The story, about a tailor named Schmuel and his magical clock, comes from Jason's musical THE LAST FIVE YEARS. It's a gorgeous book, and it makes me sad that it's kind of hard to find unless you know to look for it. So look for it. Okay, shameless plug over.

If I think of anything else I'll add it to the list. But perhaps it's time to get back to work, while I actually have the opportunity to do so.

Friday, July 03, 2009

What to Read Now. And Why.

Every summer there are book lists released of the 100 greatest books of all time, and I've usually read a good percentage of them already. I love the classics but I read many of them in high school and college. Since then I've been reading mostly contemporary fiction -- more trade paperbacks than disposable beach smut, more Ursula Hegi than Dan Brown -- and lately more and more non-fiction. But I look forward to these book lists in the case that they may reveal some gem that's just dying for me to read it. (In all of my free time.)

I loved the list that came out in Newsweek this week. The article is called "What to Read Now. And Why." It's a list of books that "open a window on the times we live in, whether they deal directly with the issues of today or simply help us see ourselves in new and surprising ways." The list is fascinating, and in the fifty books they mention, I've only read two. A third is on my bedside table, thanks to a birthday gift from my friend Jamie, who is apparently ahead of the curve.

Looks like I know what I'm going to be doing this summer.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Gender Bias in the Theatre

I read this article in the NY Times called "Rethinking Gender Bias In The Theater," and I found it to be really surprising and provocative.

Quoting from the article (which was written by Patricia Cohen and ran in the paper on June 23, 2009):

"When more than 160 playwrights and producers, most of them female, filed into a Midtown Manhattan theater Monday night, they expected to hear some concrete evidence that women who are authors have a tougher time getting their work staged than men. And they did. But they also heard that women who are artistic directors and literary managers are the ones to blame."

Read the article for more details. And then, if you're really interested, read the comments, which are also fascinating.

I expected to feel haughty and defensive about the article, but that's not what happened. I now feel conflicted. The writer in me feels angry. The woman in me kind of understands. I think in many ways women are more critical of other women than men are. I'm just surprised it shows up so blatantly in this research. I'll admit, knowing I'm braving dangerous territory here, that I'm guilty, even as a female conductor, of being slightly disappointed to sit in the audience, open a program, and learn that a woman is conducting. And even if I'm ultimately impressed with her work, I definitely wait for her to prove herself.

There is a group of us female theater conductors and composers who all know each other, and I'm not talking about these women. I know their work and I am excited and proud when they are on the podium ... or at the piano... or writing the score or the orchestrations. But if I'm at a performance and I've never heard of the conductor, one of two things happens. If it's a man, I don't think twice about it. If it's a woman, I go, "Hmm. This will be interesting."

What is that?

We have a female pastor in my church and I know she has to jump through the same kinds of hoops. The first time I heard her preach I waited for her to wow me. She did. Harvard-educated, supremely intelligent, thoughtful, liberal, provocative. And yet, had she not been female, would I have been as hesitant to grant my approval, or would I have assumed he'd be great until he proved otherwise? I'm trying to imagine and I can't quite figure it out.

So the obvious next question is, how does this apply to my work? I recently applied for something and was encouraged to include the words "as a woman..." in the essay. I resisted, not because I have any problem with being a woman, obviously, but because I don't need to be the Gloria Steinem of musical theater writers. Like my work or don't, but none of it should be simply because I'm a woman.

Food for thought.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

ALL KNOCKED UP




From Tony Nominations and major Film & TV credits to critically acclaimed CDs and world concert tours, these two talented ladies are, today, ENORMOUS figures in the Entertainment Industry. Come join these gal pals for a raucous evening as they sing their own tunes and others amidst juicy gossip and the occasional pee break.







Susan's website:
www.susanegan.net
Georgia's website:
www.georgiastitt.com

in NEW YORK
Saturday, August 1st at 9:45 pm
Sunday, August 2nd at 9:30 pm
The Metropolitan Room, 34 West 22nd
New York, NY 10010
(212) 206-0440

in LOS ANGELES
Sunday, August 30th at 7:30 pm
Catalina Jazz Club
6725 Sunset Boulevard
Hollywood, CA 90028
(323) 466-2210

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Music Geekdom: Absolute Pitch


One of the greatest things about being married to another musician is that we can go way deep into music geekdom in our conversations. I'm currently re-reading a very interesting book that Jason recommended to me years ago and I started but never finished. It's called Musicophilia and it's written by Dr. Oliver Sacks, a neurologist and author who writes about some of the most fascinating medical things. (Click here to read more about him and his subjects.) This book happens to be about music and the brain.

Most of the time as I'm reading along in the book, Dr. Sacks talks about crazy musical disorders (or heightened experiences, at least) that are fascinating but completely foreign -- people who hallucinate music, people who cannot differentiate pitches, people for whom musical tonality and color are inexorably linked. And I'm reading, thinking, wow, that's so cool or so strange, but it's just a curiosity. And then I came across the chapter on "absolute pitch," and suddenly I couldn't put the book down.

Most of us talk about "absolute pitch" as "perfect pitch." I don't have it. By definition, it's a condition (state of being? state of understanding? state of awareness?) whereby a person hears (or sees) a pitch and knows absolutely what it is. If you ask a person with perfect pitch to sing you an A, he can do it, pull it out of the air, unrelated to any other sound. He can even do it if there is currently music playing in the background in a different key. An A is just an A and is always an A.

As Dr. Sacks was writing about "absolute pitch," he made reference to "the essential F-sharpness of an F-sharp." In a silent room, I started to hear a note, which I guess was suggested by the reading of that sentence. Curiously, I went to the piano to check it out. Sure enough, it was an F-sharp.

I started thinking about absolute pitch and realized that while I don't have it, I do fall closer to it on the spectrum than other musicians might. When I was music directing "Avenue X," a fascinating a cappella musical written by John Jiler and Ray Leslee, I was called on to lead the cast through an entire evening of singing in eight-part harmony with no instrumental accompaniment. We did really cool things like build pitch pipes into the set and identify the musical tone of every piece of metal on the stage, but our ears got trained really quickly to listen to each other, and I found myself more sensitive than usual to pitch and tuning. During the run of that production, I could always pull a D out of the air, because there were several places in the show where the success of a number depended on the actors starting on a D chord. To this day, if I need to find a D, I sing Virginia Woodruff's solo in the second act that starts "... There are dreams that die...." They are all Ds, and I can always find them.

When I hear something played on the piano, I can usually tell you what key it's in. I've been playing the piano for thirty years (THIRTY YEARS? OH MY GOD.) and I think the timbre of one note sounds different from the timbre of the next one. But if you played the same piece of music on string quartet or in a vocal ensemble I might not be able to tell. And my ear is not foolproof. I've just got a really good track record for guessing.

In church, sometimes they print the hymns in one key and our organist will play them in another key. It totally freaks me out, because I can tell that what I'm seeing and what I'm hearing are not the same. And yet, if you just put the piece of music in front of me and asked me to sing it, I'd get the intervals right but I'd probably be in the wrong key.

And as far as keys having colors attached to them, I've never had anything as clear as "D-major is blue" or "D-major is yellow," as Dr. Sacks explains on his website. (Watch "Bright Blue Music" here.) But to me, sharp keys are bright and flat keys are moody and C-major sounds like a blank piece of paper. In our music geek conversations, I have come to discover that my husband doesn't think of music this way at all. I choose keys because of how they sound and what they evoke. He chooses keys based on what instruments will be playing them. (Some keys are better for strings, better for guitars, better for brass, better for saxes. It just depends.) We're both right.

I'm pretty sure that I have a strong and evolved sense of relative pitch, not absolute pitch, but now I'm fascinated to hear what you think, what you experience, and how you think about pitch. I know that when I forget to put my seatbelt on in the car, it beeps thirty Gs at me. (Annoying, because I hear them in 4/4 time and it always stops mid-measure.)

How much of a music geek are you?

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Highlights from Birdland

I thought it would be fun to post some of the media from the Birdland concert I did back on March 30th. Just for fun.

Here's Kate Baldwin singing from "Alphabet City Cycle" with the dreamy Christian Hebel accompanying her on violin.



Tituss Burgess sings notes that are higher than the piano can play. Okay, not really, but he's ferocious.



And here's the goddess Julia Murney who can do just about anything.



My student and friend Ashley Marks from LA made her New York City debut at Birdland that night. She just found out she's going to Boston Conservatory next year. YAY ASHLEY!




And here's Graham Rowat, singing one of the more comic songs of the evening, from my revue "Sing Me A Happy Song."



Finally, presenting the opening number ("Connect") from "Sing Me A Happy Song," we have my friends Kathleen Monteleone, Jamison Stern, Laura Osnes, Kevin Greene, and Ashley Marks. I promise they were happier than they look in this picture. I think they were ACTING.



You can watch video performances from that night (as well as a bunch of other stuff) by checking out the GeorgiaStittMusic page on YouTube. Feel free to leave comments!

Thanks to Steve Sorokoff for the official photos from Jim Caruso's BROADWAY AT BIRDLAND series!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

New Sheet Music available at Musicnotes.com!


I've been looking for a while now for a safe and efficient way to make my sheet music available to those friends and fans who want to own it. In years past, when people wrote to me asking for sheet music, I'd usually send them a .pdf of the song, which they would then be able to print out on their own computers. In light of all the piracy issues I've been fighting, it has been suggested to me that perhaps sending out .pdfs of my copyrighted material and trusting that everyone would play by my rules has not been as effective as I'd hoped.

There are a lot of my colleagues who have on-line sheet music stores based from their websites. I toyed with setting up something like this, but I realized even if you manage to set up an effective system for selling your music directly from your website, you still have to maintain the store. I don't have the time, the inclination, or the technical savvy to do that. I'd much rather be writing lyrics. What I love about having my songbook available through Hal Leonard is that it's out in the world and I never have to think about it.

My hero arrived in the form of www.musicnotes.com. It's a completely above-board, legal sheet music downloading website with a keen interest in being a part of the Broadway scene. You find the song you want, you purchase it, you print it out instantly in your own home, using your own computer and printer. In addition to my songs, they've got lots of material from my friends and colleagues Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich, Jeremy Schonfeld, and tons of songs from your favorite Broadway shows and movie musicals. (Also, they sell pop songs, Christmas songs, country, folk, jazz... you name it.) I am happy to be in such great company.

You can find it all by clicking HERE. This week launched the release of sheet music for my song cycle ALPHABET CITY CYCLE (piano/vocal parts and violin parts sold separately). As early as next week I will have three more titles available, including "My Lifelong Love," "Sing Me A Happy Song" and "At Christmas." It is my goal to add at least one new piece of sheet music every month, and I'll always announce here when something new is available.

So please, take a look, and if you're shopping for sheet music, make the effort to get it the proper (translation = LEGAL) way. Thanks so much.

(If you can't find what you're looking for at musicnotes.com, you may want to try these other legal sites, as well.)
www.sheetmusicplus.com
www.sheetmusicdirect.com
Hal Leonard

Meanwhile...
Here are some other musical theater songwriters you should know. Check out their fabulous online music stores!

Deborah Abramson
Scott Alan
Jeff Blumenkrantz
Bobby Cronin
Jonathan Reid Gealt
Amanda Green
Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk
Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond
Dan Lipton
Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

(Who else should I be including on this list?)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Audition Feedback

In the past few weeks I've gotten to witness an awful lot of musical theater auditions. I've played piano for a few, supervised a few, and taught a string of master classes that are basically "working" auditions. And while I'm in the middle of a day of auditions, I often find myself trying to understand what goes through the heads of the people auditioning. I coach enough actors to know what they're HOPING to project, and so often that's just not what comes across the table.

One day recently I came home with a list of notes about the auditions I had just seen, and I wanted to share those comments with you. (Anonymously, of course.) And then I realized I've kept every audition sheet from every set of auditions I've done in the last ten years or so, and they're filled with similar comments. So for your entertainment and, perhaps, personal growth, here are a few samples of the kinds of things we people behind-the-table write down while you're singing at us. And I'm one of the nice and supportive ones, I promise.

(Disclaimer -- these notes are from a variety of shows, auditions in both New York and Los Angeles. Sometimes a director or casting director had a completely opposite opinion from mine, which is why you might see my negative comments on someone who got a call back. What can I say? Casting is a team sport. And finally, no, I will never tell you who they are.)

First, the boys.

THIS IS WHERE A PERSON'S NAME WOULD BE. FOR NOW LET'S JUST SAY "MALE, 20s":
Good pitch. Sweet, accurate, boyish. Lovely and sad. Made a good acting adjustment. Eyes crinkle up. Plays piano. Very musical. I like him but for not right for this show.

MALE, 30s
Androgynous version of the part. Has no sexuality at all.

MALE, 20s (got a call back)
Good instincts, green, needs coaching but I like that he's real. Can't focus.

MALE, 20s (got a call back)
high voice -- is he straight? Gay? Can't tell. Very "indicate-y" audition. Not enough air to sing lyrically. stylized but he's connected and committed. Work session?

MALE, 20s
totally scary, I love him. lots of tension in his singing voice. not sure he can pull off "lyrical." RUSHING. He's the straight play version of this part. Can't do it.

MALE, 20s (got a call back)
voice just gorgeous, closed eyes all the time, really prepared, sweet part of his voice is soft but has a solid F#/G. Musical, big acting choices.

MALE, 30s
great look but as strange as anything I've ever seen. Like a male Miranda. Totally affected. Can't sing it.

MALE, 30s
A+ voice, good time, everything is perfect but he's not unique. I like him but can't tell who he is.

MALE, 20s
He is an un-singer. Boring. I'm asleep.

MALE, 30s
great musician, awesome performer but not an actor at all. Shame.

MALE, 40s (got a call back)
wildly energetic, no wonder he's famous. great, fun, sensitive read. solid G on top.

MALE, 30s
Hello Las Vegas! I would buy his CD but he can't act.

MALE, 30s (got a call back)
totally cute. Song was gorgeous. Knows how to get a laugh. I'm smitten.

MALE, 20s
one character's voice, another character's body. Now what? Might lack intensity.

MALE, 40s (got a call back)
sang down 1/2 step. Has overtones that make his voice sound higher than it is. THIS is the voice I was waiting for. Not a brilliant actor. Otherwise he'd be a star.

MALE, 20s
couldn't listen to him all night. Is there a part for a mute?

MALE, 30s
voice is big but time is questionable. Acting feels summer stocky. I think he'd be a handful.

MALE, 40s
very physical vibrato, probably a baritone voice hidden under all that raspiness. Acting okay. Ehhh.

MALE, 30s (got a call back)
Fantastic instrument, appealing look, great actor. Is he too old? this probably isn't his part. Cute dimples. Sexy in an 'I Love Lucy' kind of way. 1950s.

MALE, 40s (got a call back, got the part)
Well, he's George Clooney, isn't he? G# on top. More tenory than this part but of course he's the top contender. Needs to learn the music.

And now, the women:

FEMALE, 20s
shrill, bland -- why do I never like her?

FEMALE, 20s
pitch good but I have no idea what the song was about. elegant look, mature.

FEMALE, 20s
huge belty Evita voice. no middle ground.

FEMALE, 20s
Bea Arthur at 17. hilarious but limited.

FEMALE, 20s (got a callback)
beautiful, not so youthful, good acting choices. legit soprano -- connected. has a maturity. check her belt voice. Love her. Smart audition.

FEMALE, 30s
too old to be singing this ingenue song, working too hard. there's such better material for her.

FEMALE, 30s (got a call back)
voice of God! Can she act? Why can't I tell? She's quite a performer.

FEMALE, 20s
great, poised, smart, probably not this show

FEMALE, 20s
will be great in about a year. needs a director. good trashy look.

FEMALE, 30s
huge voice, slides off sustained notes. Seems unconnected to lyric. Sweet but unmemorable.

FEMALE, 20s
strong belt and nice mix. Probably too old for the part. Cute but maybe not spectacular. Vanilla.

FEMALE, 20s (got a call back)
she's gifted. spectacular actress, so connected. just had throat surgery. See her again in a few months.

FEMALE, 20s
Does that pop slidey thing I hate. Belted when she should have mixed. Good adjustments, though. Has a sass to her.

FEMALE, 20s
Can belt for days. Lovely, round sound. Eyes looking to the heavens. Oh, wait -- not an actress. Hate to lose the voice but she can't handle the acting. Boo hoo.

FEMALE, 20s
cute, but long notes don't go anywhere. Great Disney look. Quirky. Has a Judy Garland quality. Soprano is awkward. I want so much for her to be better. Ensemble?

FEMALE, 20s (got a call back)
glorious, tall, smart. well-connected. Made GREAT adjustments. Belted an E and it wasn't shrill! Vibrant. Has that frowny thing...

FEMALE, 20s
Not as good as I expected. Looks like a mess, got flustered. Bad dress. Acting without thinking. Welcome to New York.

FEMALE, teen (got a call back)
Glorious young voice, clear in both ranges. If we go really young, she's a great contender. Laura Benanti type.

FEMALE, teen (got a call back)
I love her. So much youth in her voice. Great actress. Director says needs more "beauty" in her sound. Work on rounding out legato lines, sustained notes.

FEMALE, 20s (got the call back, got the part. Shows what I know.)
trained, controlled, not beautiful, legit tone is pitchy at end. Tall. Time is a bit shaky. Not my favorite voice. Ensemble?

Saturday, May 02, 2009

This Issue of Piracy

If you've been paying close attention lately, or if you're in my inner circle or happen to have been at one of my recent master classes, you'll know a little bit about my latest soapbox issue.

A few months ago I was catching up with a friend who is currently a college student, and he was excited to share with me how popular my music was becoming at his school. "And it's not just here," he said, opening his computer. "You wouldn't believe how many people are talking about your music online." And then he proudly showed me a website where people were requesting copies of my sheet music online. I was flattered. Awww... how nice to be popular. And then he showed me the list of people who were offering to TRADE copies of my sheet music. On this website, to which you had to be a member, people were posting things like "I have a copy of ALPHABET CITY CYCLE I will trade for .... [whatever]" or "Anyone got the sheet music to BIG WINGS? I have much to trade!"

I was no longer flattered, but I let it go.

Within the next few weeks, probably because I was now paying attention, I starting noticing when google alerts mentioned websites where people could download my music for free. And then my manager wrote me a note that said "I hate that it's so easy to get your music online. Check out this website: [blah blah blah]." I looked, and within two minutes had downloaded to my own hard-drive a copy of a piece of music I had never released to the public. And now I was really getting angry.

I'll stop telling the story for just a minute to explain why I was getting angry. For starters, selling or trading copyrighted material to which you do not own the copyright is illegal. So we can start there. But further, selling or trading copyrighted material which I own and sell as part of how I make my living is totally invasive, violating, and well, illegal. If someone distributes a piece of music that I could otherwise have sold, that distributor has stolen directly from me -- taken money out of my pocket. And if that music is published (in my case by Hal Leonard), then you're stealing from them, too. When you're talking about one piece of music, $8 here or there, I suppose it's not a huge deal. But once you open up your sheet music files to the world wide web, we're talking about thousands of dollars at stake, and suddenly it matters.

Back to the story. Annoyed and miffed, I decided to write the offending website a cease and desist letter.

On Apr 9, 2009, at 2:56 PM, georgiastitt sent a message using the
contact form at http://www.pianofiles.com/contact.

Hi. I joined this website because I am a composer and it has come to my attention that my copyrighted material, which I sell as part of my income, is being traded on this website for free. No one in this web community, or ANY web community, has my permission to sell, copy, distribute, or trade any of my sheet music and by doing so is subject to legal action from my attorney. I am sending a copy of this message to both my lawyer and my manager. It is imperative that any music written by me or in any way bearing my name be removed from your site immediately. Trading copyrighted material is illegal. Thank you for your immediate attention in this matter. Georgia Stitt (www.georgiastitt.com)

And then, because that had felt like a more or less futile exercise, I wrote a letter to all my fellow composers and lyricists in New York and Los Angeles, our agents, managers, lawyers, music licensors and publishers, and explained that we had a problem. The letter went out to over 100 of the most prominent players in the musical theater industry, and the response I got was overwhelming.

"You have my support."
"What can I do?"
"This has been plaguing me forever."
"I thought we were the only ones who cared about this."

Lots of conversation has emerged, and responses came from the Dramatists Guild, MTI, Warner-Chappell, The National Music Publishers' Association, The Songwriters Guild, Jeff Marx, John Bucchino, Lucy Simon, Marsha Norman, Charles Strouse, David Shire, David Zippel, Stephen Schwartz, Mark Shaiman, young composers, rock stars, etc., etc., etc. One lyricist mentioned that she estimated she had lost nearly $50,000 due to illegal downloads of her sheet music (all of which is published and commercially available). A young composer whose music is performed every single time I give a master class at a college told me he could barely pay his rent.

I'll cut ahead to tell you that having identified the problem (music piracy is rampant and musical theater songwriters, among others, are suffering from it), the resolution seems to be two-fold.

1. Many of the people who are trading or even selling sheet music do not know that they are doing anything wrong. It is our job to educate our fans, the people WHO LOVE THE SONGS WE CREATE, about why it is important to purchase the sheet music they sing.

2. We have to make the sheet music that we write more readily available to the people who want to sing it. Just this week at a master class in Texas the students told me that they would be willing to pay $10 for a piece of sheet music written by a favorite composer but they just didn't know where to find it. If we're not reaching our fans, many of whom think it's COOL to have a brand new piece of sheet music that no one else has, they will find it elsewhere. It has been suggested that we might want to create an iTunes-like store for sheet music where everything is available in one place, composers young and old are represented, and fans know where to look to find it. I am encouraging the young people I meet to use the internet as a research tool, finding the websites of the composers they love and asking them how best to procure the music they so desire. But in this world of instant gratification, awaiting a response from a busy composer is less satisfying that pushing a few buttons and having music on your desktop. Several websites that already exist (musicnotes.com, sheetmusicplus.com and freehandmusic.com) seem to have the technology in place but are not yet representing the youngest, unpublished composers who are trying diligently to sell their music on their own websites.

These issues are complicated and large, and I am now on a committee at the Dramatists Guild to figure out how to proceed. But I wanted very much to open the discussion to you readers of this blog. Now go ahead. Tell me what you think.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Alphabet City: the Back Story

I know I've been posting lots of newsy things on here in the last few weeks but I haven't really taken the time to sit down and put words together in the form of a blog entry, and for goodness' sake, you people deserve that. If you're actually looking at this page, then it's the least I can do.

So I want to talk to you a little bit about ALPHABET CITY CYCLE, which, as you can see, is the thing I'm pushing pretty hard right now. First let me say that if you click HERE you will be taken to iTunes where you can download the whole thing -- five songs and a digital booklet that includes lyrics and essays and some photos -- for only $3.99.

Here's a little back story on how this song cycle came to be. Back in the fall of 2003 (oh I'm so old), Marcy Heisler and I were having coffee or dinner or whatever and we were talking about all the reasons why we should be running the world. (Marcy and I tend to do that.) We figured with all of HER gifts and all of MY gifts it just seemed silly that Broadway wasn't knocking at our door, asking for us to write the next big hit. At some point, reality appeared, and we realized that perhaps the way to start putting ourselves on the map was actually to write something together. So Marcy pulled out a file folder filled with poems she had written, and she said "You might want to take a look at these and see if there's anything you can do with them." A composer's dream.

The first thing I set to music was a poem of hers called "Sunday Light." I still have the sketch I took to the meeting at her apartment where I played it for her on her keyboard. We fleshed it out a bit more, rewriting both words and music, until we had a song that we liked. It was not entirely a theater song but not entirely an art song, either. I didn't know exactly what to do with it, but Marcy and I liked it so we wrote some more. By the time we were done (a few months? I don't remember.) we had five songs and I arranged them for piano, violin and voice.

When my friend Joel Fram chose the songs for a concert of the New Voices Collective back in 2003, he asked Kate Baldwin to learn them. I was a fan of Kate's and she'd learned pretty much everything I'd ever written, so I was excited to hear what she was going to do with them. Kate (who you might know because of her fabulous NY Times review for her starring role in the recent Encores! production of Finian's Rainbow) is a meticulous musician and a very natural actress, and I thought she brought the songs to life in a way that made them even better than they were before. I took her into the recording studio, along with my friend, violinist Victoria Paterson, and we recorded the entire cycle. That was in 2004.

For nearly five years, those songs just lived on the hard drive of my computer because I didn't know what to do with them. The whole piece, five songs, was twenty minutes long. I had two big ideas. 1. Marcy and I could write six or seven MORE songs and we could program a concert evening with a whole lot of diva singers, asking each woman to learn one of the songs. 2. I could write two MORE song cycles and release an album of song cycles, perhaps featuring three different singers. But... I don't know. I didn't want to wait for us to come up with seven more songs, and I didn't know how realistic it was to pull off an evening like that more than once. And who buys an album of song cycles? I performed the songs in a few of my concerts, posted the recordings here on my blog, and figured something would come to me one day.

Earlier this year, my friend Eric Whitacre and I were having lunch and complaining about the state of the recording industry. And the publishing industry. And the classical musical world. And the musical theater world. (Eric and I tend to do that.) And he told me that he had started releasing some of his own recordings directly to iTunes. I thought this was a brilliant idea, and it made sense to me that someone might download a twenty-minute song cycle, more sense certainly than trying to figure out how it fit onto a 70-minute album. I contacted my record producer at PS Classics, sent him the recordings, and, well, I guess you know the rest. He gave a thumbs up, we created artwork, and now the songs are out there for your downloading pleasure.

And finally, here's the thing about the sheet music. Yes, it exists. Yes, I can sell it through the website. But the more interest this piece drums up -- meaning the more people download it (instead of trading it for free on the web), the more people post positive comments here and on iTunes, and the more people blog about it and review it and tell their friends how great it is, the more likely I am to have a publisher pick it up. Because publishing 5-song folio is a little tricky, especially when I'm neither Alan Menken nor Claude Debussy. So, simply, if like the songs, drop your $3.99 for the cause. If you've read this far, it's the least you can do.

Thanks so much for listening.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

THE WATER to be presented in Los Angeles

The winner of the Academy for New Musical Theatre's 2008 Search for New Musicals is The Water, with book by Tim Werenko and Jeff Hylton, music by Georgia Stitt, and lyrics by Jeff Hylton. It will be presented in concert at the Colony Theatre on Monday evening April 27th at 7:30 p.m.

The Water tells the story of a small Missouri town that survives a flood and examines what it takes for a community to rebuild its buildings, its relationships, and its unique sense of home. The story and characters are fictitious, but inspired by real events which happen in the Midwest every year.

"I had been interested in writing about the ideas of home and community. What makes a place special, so special that you choose to rebuild after a tragedy rather than leaving?" says The Water composer Georgia Stitt. "Jeff and I have attempted to write a score that captures that sense of place, of belonging, and also deeply explores the passions of these people and their relationships with the water that both feeds and destroys their livelihoods. I have worked to write music that is full of both character and emotion, and I think Jeff and Tim have managed to do that in the script, as well. The show is funny, heartwarming, and achingly tragic. This is a particularly American story, and since we started writing it we have lived through September 11th in New York City and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. As timely as ever, The Water is a show about moving on."

'Having lived in a flood zone, the idea of people living with the possibility of disaster every day became a reality when I was personally flooded out,' says bookwriter Tim Werenko. 'The idea of potential tragedy became all too real for the whole world on September 11th. You only need to drive through your town and look at the For Sale signs to see how homes can be lost without a flood, tornado, or hurricane. Yet, when I work on this show, I see how these things can bring out the best in people. They can find a courage they might have forgotten. They come together. They inspire each other. By collectively sharing the worst of times together, they bring out the best in each other.'

First Prize in the Academy for New Musical Theatre's Search for New Musicals was the concert reading, preceded by a workshop last spring, and detailed feedback and dramaturgy.

'Our goal is to help the authors realize their musical's potential,' says Associate Artistic Director Elise Dewsberry. 'The Water deals with some big issues, and we saw in the early draft a lot of potential for a powerful, theatrical experience. We can't wait to see what they've done with the musical since we saw it last!'

Scheduled to appear in the cast are Vicki Lewis (Film: Finding Nemo; Broadway: Damn Yankees; Television: series regular on NewsRadio), Michael Arden (who appeared in the title role of the Center Theatre Group's recent production of Pippin), Jeremy Kocal (currently appearing in Wicked in San Francisco) and other Southern California musical theatre stars including Dan Callaway, Julie Garnye, Tim Gulan and Steven Hack, and members of the Academy Repertory Company.

The Water will be performed in concert at the Colony Theater in Burbank on Monday evening April 27th at 7:30. Tickets are $10 and will go on sale April 1st. Reservations can be made at www.anmt.org.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Does this mean we're famous?


Drawing by Justin "Squigs" Robertson

Alphabet City Cycle on iTunes!

Finian's Rainbow Star Kate Baldwin Sings "Alphabet City Cycle," Released Digitally

By Kenneth Jones

31 Mar 2009

http://www.playbill.com/news/article/127873.html

PS Classics unveils composer Georgia Stitt and lyricist Marcy Heisler's "Alphabet City Cycle," a five-song cycle for soprano, violin and piano, on March 31. It's the label's first digital-only release.

Featuring vocalist Kate Baldwin, the actress who got recent raves as Sharon in the Encores! presentation of Finian's Rainbow, "Alphabet City Cycle" is be available exclusively at iTunes.

The title refers to the East Village Manhattan neighborhood with lettered avenues. Victoria Paterson is heard on violin.

PS Classics co-founder Tommy Krasker told Playbill.com, "'Alphabet City Cycle' is a wonderful reunion. We released Georgia's album 'This Ordinary Thursday' in the spring of 2007, and just brought out Marcy's Dear Edwina last fall. Georgia's hard at work on a new album, but we don't yet have a time-line for completion or release. What she had finished, though, is this gorgeous song cycle. 'This Ordinary Thursday' has been one of our strongest digital releases to date; rather than wait for the new album to be completed, we decided to unveil the song cycle now, as a digital exclusive."

Stitt revealed in press notes, "Marcy and I became friends in New York City several years ago, back when we were both starting out as baby songwriters and were playing our respective songs all over town. I was really curious to see what Marcy and I might create if we pooled our talents. After rejecting the ideas of writing a full-length musical or a slew of cabaret songs together, Marcy pulled from her filing cabinet a stack of poems she had written and asked if I'd like to take a crack at setting them. I sifted through maybe 15 or 20 poems and picked one to put to music. Once we realized that we were on to something and that our songs sounded different from anything either of us had written before, we picked four more poems and kept going. The 20-minute song cycle here is the collection of those five musical poems; they are some kind of hybrid between musical theatre and art song."

Heisler stated, "While written at separate times in my life, the poems come together in a story maybe I was too much a part of to see clearly. While not all of the pieces are autobiographical, they all came from strolling down the streets of and near my Greenwich Village home. It was Georgia's music that gave me a new perspective on their meaning, capturing the lure and loss and ultimate inescapability of connection we cannot help but seek."

"Alphabet City Cycle" was produced by Grammy Award winner Jeffrey Lesser, who also produced "This Ordinary Thursday" and several other PS Classics recordings, including Maureen McGovern's "A Long and Winding Road" and Lauren Kennedy's two solo albums."

The track listing follows:

"The Wanting of You" (The Student on Avenue B)
"Almost Everything I Need" (The Divorcée on Avenue C)
"I Hardly Remember" (The Widow on Avenue D)
"Blanket in July" (The Jilted Actress in Tompkins Square Park)
"Sunday Light" (The Lover on Avenue A)

Stitt played all tracks except track "Blanket in July." For that, Grant Wenaus played the piano and Stitt conducted.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Music: Getting Real

Georgia Stitt, BMus’94, with 4-year-old America's Got Talent contestant Kaitlyn Maher.

In show business, the saying goes, it’s not what you know but who you know. In the case of Georgia Stitt, award-winning composer and vocal coach on America’s Got Talent, it’s both.

Music: Getting Real, from VANDERBILT MAGAZINE
by Angela Fox

A Tennessee native, Stitt received her bachelor’s degree in music theory and composition from the Blair School of Music in 1994 and her M.F.A. in musical theater writing from New York University. Since then Stitt has forged a successful career as a composer, conductor, arranger and music director in musical theater, dividing her time between New York City and her home in Los Angeles. As unlikely as it sounds, it was Stitt’s classical training and Broadway experience that led to her current work in reality television.

Two years ago Stitt got a call from director/choreographer Kathleen Marshall, with whom she had worked on the Broadway revival of Little Shop of Horrors. “Our paths had crossed several times since then,” Stitt recalls. “This time she was directing and choreographing [the TV show] Grease: You’re the One That I Want, and she brought me on board as vocal coach.” On the NBC reality show, aspiring performers competed to be cast members in a revival of the musical Grease on Broadway.

Grease: You’re the One That I Want introduced Stitt to Nigel Wright, prominent British record producer and Andrew Lloyd Weber’s longtime musical director. Wright, who was musical director for the Grease reality show, was so impressed with Stitt’s vocal coaching that he brought her in as his assistant musical director on Clash of the Choirs. That musical TV reality hit pitted five amateur choirs from around the country, each led by a celebrity singer, against each other. “That went well,” Stitt says. “So when Nigel went to work on America’s Got Talent, he called me again.” Stitt worked on the 2008 season and hopes to return for the 2009 competition.

The difference with America’s Got Talent was that not all the talent was musical. “Of the 40 acts, though, 19 were musical, and one of my singers won the top prize,” Stitt says with pride. That singer is Neal E. Boyd, an insurance salesman from St. Louis who had studied classical voice and sang opera—which made his win even more impressive, says Stitt. “The show truly has Americans voting for the winner, and in this case they voted for an opera singer.” Stitt and Boyd clicked so well during the competition that Stitt continues to coach him for recordings and performances.

Reality TV work is very different from the vocal coaching Stitt does on Broadway or with private clients. “There’s a level of professionalism that’s already there, of course, when I coach singers on Broadway,” Stitt says. “On America’s Got Talent, some of the singers have never had a voice lesson. One woman who was in her 40s had never done vocal warm-ups before. When I showed her how, it was like I had taught her how to read. But that’s what teaching is about—you have to figure out where a student is and then meet them there.”

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Stitt & Heisler's "Alphabet City Cycle," With Baldwin, to Get Digital Release by PS Classics

By Kenneth Jones
PLAYBILL ONLINE

PS Classics will unveil composer Georgia Stitt and lyricist Marcy Heisler's "Alphabet City Cycle," a five-song cycle for soprano, violin and piano, on March 31. It is the label's first digital-only release.

Featuring vocalist Kate Baldwin, the soprano who will play Sharon in the upcoming Encores! presentation of Finian's Rainbow, "Alphabet City Cycle" will be available exclusively at iTunes. The title refers to the East Village Manhattan neighborhood with lettered avenues. Victoria Paterson is heard on violin.

PS Classics co-founder Tommy Krasker told Playbill.com, "'Alphabet City Cycle' is a wonderful reunion. We released Georgia's album 'This Ordinary Thursday' in the spring of 2007, and just brought out Marcy's Dear Edwina last fall. Georgia's hard at work on a new album, but we don't yet have a time-line for completion or release. What she had finished, though, is this gorgeous song cycle. 'This Ordinary Thursday' has been one of our strongest digital releases to date; rather than wait for the new album to be completed, we decided to unveil the song cycle now, as a digital exclusive."

Stitt revealed in press notes, "Marcy and I became friends in New York City several years ago, back when we were both starting out as baby songwriters and were playing our respective songs all over town. I was really curious to see what Marcy and I might create if we pooled our talents. After rejecting the ideas of writing a full-length musical or a slew of cabaret songs together, Marcy pulled from her filing cabinet a stack of poems she had written and asked if I'd like to take a crack at setting them. I sifted through maybe 15 or 20 poems and picked one to put to music. Once we realized that we were on to something and that our songs sounded different from anything either of us had written before, we picked four more poems and kept going. The 20-minute song cycle here is the collection of those five musical poems; they are some kind of hybrid between musical theatre and art song."

Heisler stated, "While written at separate times in my life, the poems come together in a story maybe I was too much a part of to see clearly. While not all of the pieces are autobiographical, they all came from strolling down the streets of and near my Greenwich Village home. It was Georgia's music that gave me a new perspective on their meaning, capturing the lure and loss and ultimate inescapability of connection we cannot help but seek."

"Alphabet City Cycle" was produced by Grammy Award winner Jeffrey Lesser, who also produced "This Ordinary Thursday" and several other PS Classics recordings, including Maureen McGovern's "A Long and Winding Road" and Lauren Kennedy's two solo albums."

The track listing follows:

"The Wanting of You" (The Student on Avenue B)
"Almost Everything I Need" (The Divorcée on Avenue C)
"I Hardly Remember" (The Widow on Avenue D)
"Blanket in July" (The Jilted Actress in Tompkins Square Park)
"Sunday Light" (The Lover on Avenue A)

Stitt played all tracks except track "Blanket in July." For that, Grant Wenaus played the piano and Stitt conducted.

In celebration of the release of "Alphabet City Cycle," Georgia Stitt will be performing in concert at Birdland on March 30 at 9 PM. Singers expected to appear include Julia Murney, Tituss Burgess, Kate Baldwin (performing two selections from "Alphabet City Cycle"), Graham Rowat, Laura Osnes, Kathleen Monteleone and Kevin Greene.

*

Founded in 2000 by Tommy Krasker & Philip Chaffin, and a four-time Grammy nominee (for its cast recordings of Nine-the musical, Assassins, Grey Gardens and Company), PS Classics seeks to preserve the heritage of American popular song through a variety of cast recordings, solo albums and recordings drawn from rare sound archives, including "Sondheim Sings."

Upcoming releases include Steven Pasquale's debut album "Somethin' Like Love," the Off-Broadway cast recording of Road Show (with Nonesuch Records), the Broadway cast album of The Story of My Life, and the debut album by Story of My Life star Malcolm Gets, "The Journey Home."

Visit psclassics.com.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

BIG RED SUN in Oklahoma City


OCUSTRIPPED: New Musical Festival
Oklahoma City University’s Student Theater Company
Just the Actors…a Piano…and the Show
February 7-8, 2009
Oklahoma City University • Burg Theatre

OCUStripped, a student organization on the campus of Oklahoma City University, the alma mater of Kristin Chenoweth, Kelli O' Hara, and Destan Owens, will be soon opening its New Musical Festival. OCUStripped will be hosting its fourth annual New Musical Theatre Project on February 7-8, 2009. OCUStripped is a student run Theatre Company on the campus of OCU that was started in 2005 under the faculty advisement of OCU’s Opera/Music Theatre Department head, Dr. David Herendeen, and sponsored by the Wanda L. Bass School of Music. It is unique because it is completely directed, produced, musically directed, and performed by OCU students. The show is done without lights, costumes, or set. It strips huge spectacle away leaving the performers vulnerable and forced to dive into the truth of the material. Each year OCUStripped does a full length musical in the fall, and in the spring we do a new musical showcase of shows that have been written or revised in the past five years.

This year’s OCUStripped will be presenting six different shows over the weekend. Three will be presented in a 40-minute one-act format, and three will be presented in their entirety. The festivals shows are:

37 Notebooks by Jeremy Schonfeld

Big Red Sun by John Jiler & Georgia Stitt

Edges by Pasek & Paul

Election Day by Ben Harell

Ordinary Days by Adam Gwon

Weird Romance by Alan Menken, David Spencer, & Alan Brennert

The students had the opportunity to workshop this new material, while still maintaining contact with the composers and authors when they had a problem or questions. John Jiler, David Spencer, and Georgia Stitt, authors, whose work will be performed at the festival, will be our special guests. They will be offering master classes in voice, composition, and acting. The festival will coincide with Oklahoma City University’s national audition weekend for the School of Music, and it is free to the public; however, donations will be accepted to help keep OCUStripped alive. If you have any questions, please contact ocustripped@yahoo.com.

OCUStripped: New Musical Festival

Oklahoma City University, Burg Theatre


Saturday, February 7, 2009

2pm-Performance master class and Q& A with Georgia Stitt

4pm-New Musical Showcase (3 one- acts)

6pm-Acting Master class with John Jiler

8pm-Big Red Sun

Sunday, February 8, 2009

2pm-New Musical Showcase (3 one-acts)

4pm-Edges

6pm-Master class with David Spencer

8pm-Weird Romance

Monday, February 02, 2009

In Service



I've been thinking a lot about service lately. A big part of Obama's call to America asks us to be in service to our communities. I am fully behind this idea, but as I cheer the concept I also find that it's harder than you might think to know just what it means. What is required of us? How do we participate? Since I've moved around a lot in my adult life, I am distinctly aware that the idea of a community is much different for me now than it was when I was a kid. My community in Covington, Tennessee in the 1980s was made up of three parts. There were the people I knew from school. There were the people I knew from church. And there were the people I was related to, most of whom lived out of town. Community was easy to find. Everybody knew everybody else. Like it or not, you knew what the neighbors were up to and they knew what you were up to. Honestly, that small town all-knowingness was the first thing I was happy to leave behind when I moved to New York. But the resultant privacy came with sacrifices. My first apartment in New York City was a 4th-floor walk up. I lived there for six or seven years and only knew one other tenant by name. I went to a big city church but pretty much came and went without ever getting involved in anything. My friends, mostly actors and musicians, were scattered all over the city. We kept up with each other's lives but finding actual time to connect was a rarity indeed. Several years and several cities later, that sense of scatteredness has only gotten worse.

On his last day as a private citizen, Obama declared Feb. 19th to be a "National Day of Service," and I was excited by the challenge. I scoured a few websites to find out what activities were going on in my neighborhood, and sure enough I found out that there was going to be a community-wide parade just blocks from my house. It was called the "Double Happiness Parade," celebrating Obama's Inauguration and MLK day. Following the parade, everyone was to scatter back to their own neighborhoods and clean up trash in the area. I signed up our family and, despite the fact that we all were sick that day, we went.


It was a sight to see. Not since I was a kid have I seen such an outpouring of local support for anything. People came from all corners. Kids, dogs, wagons, signs, noisemakers. There were hundreds of people there. Families. We ran into people we kind-of know in the 'hood -- moms and kids from the park, people we knew lived nearby but hadn't yet encountered. Our favorite moment was when we fell into step with an "old lefty" (as Jason called him) carrying his banjo and leading people in singing along the great folk songs from the 60s and 70s. After several verses of "This Land Is Your Land," he launched into "We Shall Overcome," and the middle-aged black couple right next to me sang, "We shall overcome... TO-DAY." It was moving, y'all.

So, I offer you this website. www.usaservice.org. Type in your zipcode and see what's going on near you. Also, take a look at www.dosomething.org. I found one organization that is gathering used magazines for literacy. How hard is it to drop off your old magazines instead of throwing them in the recycling bin? And for those of you who aren't in America, I ask: are there similar community-based, volunteer-based websites with more global objectives? Let me know.

Finally, I came across this questionnairre in a completely unrelated source, but I think the questions are great and they might lead you to think about what it is that you can be doing to be a part of something greater than yourself. I'm still figuring it out, but I can tell you that these questions sent me thinking in really surprising directions. Have fun.

1. Name the things you did as a child that brought you greatest joy.
2. What do you do now that gives you the most energy?
3. What wears you out?
4. What are your hobbies? What do you do to restore your soul?
5. Is there something you have thought about doing for a long time? Is now the time? How do you know?
6. Is there a wall or barrier that keeps you from following your call?
7. If you could do anything in your community, what would it be?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The New and the Old


It's January 21st. A big day. A new day. We have a new president and a new kind of American pride. It is an exciting time to be alive. I wrote a new choral piece yesterday called "Joyful Noise" and it just seemed fitting to finish it on a day when I was so filled with joy. I believe my colleague Jeremy Faust and the International Orange Chorale in San Francisco will premiere it, as they did with my piece De Profundis, but I will give you more details and confirmation about that in a few weeks. For now, let's bask in the way it feels to be so uniformly happy as a nation, and let's heed Obama's call to be a country of people who WORK and provide SERVICE. I am inspired.

All right, enough Obama-glowing. I have something else to be excited about. I FOUND ADAM WAGNER!!

If you've been following this blog for a while you'll remember the entry I wrote about looking for my junior high crush, Adam Wagner, who was the subject of my song "My Lifelong Love." He was a year ahead of me in school, and when I was in the fifth grade and he was in the sixth, I decided to play the clarinet in the hopes that one day I might be able to sit next to him in band. There's some truth in that song's lyric (which Lauren Kennedy recorded so BRILLIANTLY on her record HERE AND NOW), and there's some of it that I just made up, but that's the beauty of songwriting.

I really want to thank my friend Beth, who took it upon herself to find the mysterious and commonly-named Adam Wagner on the internet. I knew she was hunting him down, and one day I got a message on Facebook that said "I found Adam. He is my friend on Facebook. Look at my friends list and you will find him." So I did. And, sure enough, it was he.

Some of us abuse Facebook and post way too much information for all the world to see. Jason calls people like us "chronic over-sharers." (You know who you are.) And then there are other quiet, lurking types who post a picture and maybe an email address and little else. They sit in the background and quietly, sneakily collect friends. They do not write on people's walls. They do not post items. They do not comment. Clearly, they are not obsessed. Anyway, I am in the oversharing, obsessed category. Adam is in the lurking category. I could tell from his profile what state he lived in and that he's been at the same job for nearly 15 years. And that's about it. So, with little to go on, I wrote him.

(I am publishing these excerpts from our exchange with his permission.)

Hi, Adam --

I want to share something with you. A few years ago, as an assignment for a Valentine's Day concert, I was asked to write a song about my first love. I gave the assignment a twist and wrote about my first crush -- back in junior high -- and you must know that that was you. Back in the day. So, anyway, you were the inspiration for a song. I have to say, the truth is that I wrote a song about a girl in the 5th grade who had a crush on a boy named Adam in the 6th grade, and then I made up the rest of it. So it's not REALLY about you or about me and a lot of it is fiction. But, well, you'll see.

I hope you find this whole thing amusing. I just wanted you to know. Enjoy. Please write back if you have a minute. I sure would love to hear from you. And -- ha ha -- don't worry. I'm happily married with a beautiful 3-year old daughter.

For two days I worried that he thought I was stalking him, and then THIS lovely email showed up in my inbox.

Hi Georgia!

I love the song! You and Lauren were excellent! I can't really remember the last time I thought about the 6th grade (Wow that was 25 years ago!), but I was laughing and remembering it fondly while listening to your song. I've played it for almost everyone in my office and they all liked it. I also sent it to my parents and my sister so they could enjoy it. I remember almost everything in the song, except the clarinet lessons. Did I actually give you lessons? I was also oblivious to the fact that you had a crush on me.

OBLIVIOUS? Whew. That's a relief.

Anyway, this story has a happy ending. We're now in touch. We have reconnected about our families and what we've been doing for the last two decades. And, for the record, no, Adam, you never gave me clarinet lessons. They don't call me a lyricist for nuthin'.