We are a mother and daughter who both love to write. We decided to start this blog so we could spend time together doing something
we both love and share it with you. We specialize in reviewing fun places to go and fun things to do, but we talk a little bit about everything.
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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Saturday Special - More from the 2017 NYMF :An Interview With the Creators of Backbeard Plus The Goree All-Girl String Band

Backbeard, the story of the hairiest pirate that ever lived is one of the most family friendly shows in this year's New York Musical Festival. Michael Musial (MM) wrote the music and lyrics for Backbeard.  Matthew McElligott wrote the original books that inspired the show and also worked on the adaption of the show into a musical.

Where did you get the idea for the show?

MM: Matt's books were the inspiration and a former student, Brian Sheldon suggested that we musicalize it...the rest is history as they say!

Have you written any other shows?

MM: I have not written any other show - a few songs when needed for particular productions - so this is my first continuous show.

If you couldn't do what you do what would you do instead?

MM: An architect or landscape designer

ME:  (A) Hairy pirate. 

What is the best thing about creating an original show?

MM: Collaborating with new people and the people you already know and love working with!

ME: For me, the best part has been seeing the story I wrote for the books grow and evolve as writers, actors, costume designers, etc. all add their own contributions. The result is something much richer than I ever could have imagined.

What is the hardest thing about creating an original show?

MM: Staying true to the theme of the show - and following through with that.  Writing the same song three times is not especially fun either!

ME: As an author, I'm used to my books sticking around in libraries, bookstores, and on shelves after the work is done. I've had to come to terms with the idea that this project only exists as long as everyone is there to stage it. Once the run is over, that show disappears. 

What are your other interests besides creating shows?

MM: I love to sail, gardening, attending theater, reading and family

ME: I enjoy plundering, swashbuckling, and poop-deck swabbing.

What is your favorite show that you didn't write?

MM: Gosh that's a hard question - hmmm - today it's Lady in the Dark - an old Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin show from 1940.

ME: The Music Man. And recently I was really enjoying Yip Harburg's lyrics from Jamaica.

Who are some playwrights you admire? 

MM: I love lots of theater - the old golden age folks like the Gershwins, Moss Hart, Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hammerstein but really like the new material as well - Sondheim, William Finn, Brian Yorkey & Tom Kitt etc.

ME: I agree!

What is your writing process  like? Does the story come story first or the songs? How do you collaborate with one another?

MM: Writing is like exploring - writing a lot - then crossing out  - finding rhymes - finding the emotional context etc. Story, lyrics then song.....no lyrics no song - at least for me.

ME: In the world of books, the story always comes first, then everything else is built around it. We approached this project the same way. Collaborating has been a joy, especially as the story continues to evolve through every stage of the production.

10) What advice would you give to someone who wants to do what you do?

MM: Just do it!

ME: Write a lot, read a lot, watch a lot of theatre, and find some talented collaborators who will push you to do the best work you can. 

We thank Michael Musial and Matthew McElligott for taking the time to answer our questions. Backbeard will be play at the Acorn Theatre at Theatre Row, 410 W. 42nd St., New York, NY at the following times:

Monday       July 31      8:00 PM
Thursday    August 3   5:00 PM
Saturday    August 5   10:30 PM
Saturday   August 5    1:30 PM
Sunday     August 6     1:00 PM
We were given free tickets to The Goree All-Girl String Band for review purposes. Any and all opinions expressed here are our own.

What: The Goree All-Girl String Band  

Where:  The Acorn Theatre at Theatre Row
              410 W, 42nd St.
              New York, NY

When: Final performance Saturday July 29 9:00 PM
Me - The Goree All-Girl Strong Band was a good show. It is about women in jail who started a band and were on this show Behind the Wall where people from prison played music. They thought forming a band would help them get out of jail. The songs were nice. The singing voices were pretty. The acting was very good. The story was interesting. All in all, it was a very nice show. 
Mom - The Goree All-Girl String Band is the true story of a group of woman in a Texas prison in 1938 who formed a band. The show is based on a book by Caroline Gnagy called Texas Jailhouse Music. Like Bandstand and School of Rock, this is another show where the cast plays their own music and they do a great job of it. The music and the voices are both beautiful. The songs are quite pretty too for the most part. They are not like songs you would typically hear in a Broadway show. They are more like songs you would hear on a country album. They are definitely songs worth listening to again especially as played and sung by the talented cast. The story though is a different matter. It doesn't seem as polished as the songs.  During the course of the play, you don't really get to know that much about any of the characters especially the band members besides the two band members who are the main characters.  Even the band members who are the main characters are only slightly developed.  However, the story is still intriguing, and the show does provides a fascinating look at an interesting chapter of history. 
And that's our view.

Tune in tomorrow for this week's Sunday Scoop.

Photo credits: All The Goree All-Girl String Band  production photos by Shira Friedman