The When: Last March, approximately 7pm. The Where: Pattie Lynn’s living room. The What: Eating LOTS of vodka soaked gummy bears- oh and reading Chekov’s Ivanov.
On this particularly significant evening, Miss Pattie Lynn had assembled a motley crew to commune and read through a new cutting of Ivanov, which HTTC had just decided to produce as their first show. I was thoroughly enjoying myself- and the free flowing vodka- listening to the text as it sprang to life through the actors’ voices. About halfway through the evening all of a sudden one of the lines floating through the air struck me and said “I am an amazing song lyric. Build a melody around me. I am simple but profound and rhythmic.” After that I put the vodka down and listened even more carefully to the rest of play. I heard more and more lines that were also perfectly crafted song lyrics. I knew I wanted to do something with them, but what? I wasn’t exactly sure. So, during the goodbyes portion of the evening, I mentioned to Pattie that the play had inspired me and that I’d like to write some music based on it. Or something like that. Pattie agreed to talk the possibility over with the other members of HTTC and get back to me.
Now what made me think I was up to the task of composing music for a play? I have no idea. I have performed as a singer-songwriter here and there, but up until this point my songs have all been highly autobiographical. Except for a moving piece about Killer Whales I wrote in the third grade after being especially touched by Free Willy (I mean who wasn’t??) songwriting for me has mainly been a way to work through the ups and downs and- let’s be honest- boy problems I’ve been having. Could I write a song- many songs completely based on 19th century text?
Fast-forward a few weeks, Pattie gets back to me and yes HTTC has incredibly graciously and supportively agreed to let me try and incorporate some music into Ivanov. Only question- where to begin? I decided to go back to what inspired me in the first place- the text. Curling up on the couch one afternoon re-reading the script, Anna’s line “He says that he doesn’t love me, only in the evenings…” literally shot across the page and hit me deep in the chest. I had to put the script down. The words immediately attached themselves to a melody. I grabbed my guitar and Anna’s song just sort of fell out of me.
Now I wish I could say the rest of the music also just poured out of me and it was a beautiful, easy, short process. It hasn’t been. But it has been creative, inspiring, challenging and collaborative. Things really took off when Pattie, Emily, Brian and I all began to meet for music rehearsals. There was a beautiful exchanging of ideas and sounds. For example, Emily came up with the brilliant line “deliver me” which so simply and fully describes Ivanov’s overarching theme. I elaborated on the line, set the words to a melody and then Brian took that melody and expanded it into an amazing three-part a cappella harmony.
We are still fine-tuning the music, but overall I have to say I am so excited to share what we have come up with. I also am personally amazed at the musical journey I have been on from Free Willy to now. I hope you all come and are blown away by this powerful and amusing story told by this incredibly talented cast. And I hope as the play unfolds, the music you hear supports your journey through the story, reflecting back some of your favorite themes and lines of text.
See you all in October!