I started this blog with one daughter, kept it up with the other, to spend time together doing something we enjoyed.
However, things change and people evolve. My daughters are older, busier, and not as interested in writing.
From now on this blog will be mostly mom with occasional contributions from my daughters and maybe even my husband.
Nothing else will change. We'll still focus on sharing fun places to go, fun things to do, and more, and we would  still love to hear your views too

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Saturday Special - An Interview with the writing team of Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond

Today we will be speaking with Michael Kooman (MK)  and Christopher Dimond (CD), a writing team for the stage and screen best known for the animated Disney series, Vampirina and their stage musicals. Their show The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes about a man who wakes up to discover that his life has literally become a musical was recently released on CD.

How would you describe The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes?

MK & CD: THE NOTEWORTHY LIFE OF HOWARD BARNES is a musical comedy with a lot of heart underneath its wacky surface. It’s the story of an average, ordinary man who wakes up one day to discover that his life has become a musical. Not being the type of person who would enjoy this type of transformation, he immediately sets out on a quest to escape, a journey that takes him through the heart of musical theatre itself.

It’s been a blast for us to write, and as much as we enjoy all of the humor of the show, at its core, it’s a story about learning to open yourself up to the world around you.

Where did you come up with the idea for the musical?

MK & CD: We were looking for a project to work on that would be, first and foremost, a comedy. We had written a couple of other pieces together that were a little darker, a little edgier, which dealt with pretty serious subject matter. We wanted to work on something completely different, a musical that would allow us to fully embrace our comedic instincts.

We brainstormed a bunch of different ideas, and hit upon the concept of a guy whose life, much to his chagrin, becomes a big, splashy, Broadway-style musical.

We thought it was a great comedic premise for a story, but it wasn’t until we figured out exactly what Howard’s metamorphosis meant on a deeper level that we felt like the idea really took off.

Where has the show been performed and are there currently any productions scheduled?

MK & CD: The show recently premiered at Village Theatre in Seattle. It was thrilling to finally get to see the fully realized version of a piece that had existed in our heads for nearly ten years. We had a fantastic team working with us on that production, and they really did a marvelous job of bringing the show to life.

We’re currently exploring a couple of different options for next steps for the show. So, stay tuned!

How long have you two been collobarating and what makes your partnership work?

MK & CD:We’ve been working together for about thirteen years now. We met while we were both students at Carnegie Mellon University, and have been working together ever since.

There are a number of things that make our collaboration work. One of the things that we discovered early on is that we both have similar senses of humor, which has proven to be a critical part of our process.

We also have similar sensibilities dramatically, which is really important.

We’ve got a lot in common, which is obviously key, but we’re also pretty different people, which helps us to push each other artistically and professionally.

More than anything, we’re both dedicated to the same goal, and are willing to work hard and constantly improve as we continue to hone our craft.

Have you written any other musicals together or separately?

MK & CD: We have. We’ve written a total of about ten musicals together at this point. One of those shows, a show we wrote with British writer/director Emma Rice called ROMANTICS ANONYMOUS will be embarking on an American tour early next year.

In addition to our stage work, we’ve also written the songs for VAMPIRINA, an animated Disney Junior television series, and are currently working on a new TV series that will be announced soon.

What are some of your favorite musicals?

MK: Little Shop of Horrors, Hairspray, Caroline, or Change
CD: Les Miserables, Avenue Q, Chicago, and Sweeney Todd.

Who are some people in your field who you admire?

MK & CD: Oh boy. The full list would take forever. There are so many fantastic musical writers who we look up to, and from whom we’ve learned an absolute ton. We actually reference a lot of them in THE NOTEWORTHY LIFE OF HOWARD BARNES. Stephen Schwartz, Sondheim, Kander and Ebb, Ahrens and Flaherty, Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, Rodgers and Hammerstein. Just to name a few.

What advice what you give to someone who wants to write a musical?

MK & CD: That’s another one that we could go on forever about. Writing musicals is an extremely difficult undertaking, but one that’s rewarding in ways that people who’ve never done it probably can’t fully grasp.

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is that you need to be passionate about whatever it is that you choose to write about. It often takes between five and ten years to bring a musical to life, and it’s usually a bumpy road. With that kind of investment, you want to make sure you truly love what you’re choosing to write about.

Additionally, we often advise people to never stop learning. The development process can be brutal, but it’s crucial to constantly work to make the piece better. There are a million people who will want to give you feedback, and that can often be difficult to take. It’s really importantly to learn how to divorce yourself from your ego, honestly assess your work, figure out what the problems are, and set about solving them.

We thank Michael and Christopher for taking the time to answer our questions. For more about, Kooman & Dimond, The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes, or any of Kooman & Dimon's other works or to order a copy of The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes on CD, visit http://koomandimond.com.

Tune in tomorrow for this week's Sunday Scoop.

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