Check out February House at The Long Wharf! I read the book a few years ago and found it fascinating. See below: my good friend and writing partner on Measure of Success is singing his heart out--in a robe!
Recess, Fan Pages and other stuff Kirsten discusses with her cast... By Kirsten Guenther (Writer)
“It’s Friday night and the mood is right!” When I was a kid every Friday night we would watch TGIF while eating pizza at the cable table. (A coffee table in our family room made from a wheel of a cable car—it didn’t actually have anything to do with the fact that we would eat at it when watching TV). As I pined for Sean on Boy Meets WorldI wondered what it would be like to be a child actor—how could I get an agent and do that? My dad told me that I didn’t need an agent to work, all I needed was a social security number. Hmmm.
Well, last week, I got to work with five “young people” while working on a reading of my musical Little Miss Fix-it at the Roundabout Underground—and let me tell you—they had agents. They had several types of agents for theatre, film and commericials; and stage parents—one of them is the star of a reality TV show! Let me just say—that I’m a bit concerned that I had one of the best weeks of my life and only want to write shows that have kids in them now. Because— it’s true, kids say the darndest things. Well, from what I could hear at least—apparently overnight I became an adult? And when I tried to joint their gossip session while they ate Pirates Booty and compared fan pages they stopped talking. Because I’m a grown-up. Ah…
One of the kids was showing off his new iPad. He wore glasses bigger than his entire head. I remarked, “Wow, an iPad, I’d like one of those.” “I bought it with my own money!” he defended. Of course you did, you don’t have to pay rent! And then he beat me in Angry Birds.
Just got back from a book signing at the Standard with my pal Hope. It was for Vahram Muratyan's new book, Paris versus New York. Check out the blurb--already my coffee table looks cooler (plus chic). Oh! Did you know that the Standard has an ice rink in front of the bar? (I'm icing my knee right now.)
"When Vahram Muratyan began his online travel journal, Paris versus New York, he had no idea how quickly it would become one of the most buzzed-about sites on the Internet-it garnered more than a million and a half page views in just a few months, and the attention of savvy online critics. Now Muratyan presents his unique observations in this delightful book, featuring visually striking graphics paired with witty, thought-provoking taglines that celebrate the special details of each city. Paris versus New York is a heartfelt gift to denizens of both cities and to those who dream of big-city romance."
Yahoo headline reads, "College Majors That Are Useless" Number 3? Theatre... By Kirsten Guenther (Writer and former Theatre Major)
"Here's the good news: Sign up for theater as a major and at least you'll be really good at acting like you have a job."
Reading these words made me want to take the person who constructed this sentence outside and do what any theatre major would do—burst into spontaneous song in his face. But alas, I don't have his address. So I'll take out my aggression here. I'm supposed to be rewriting an opening number (something I learned in theatre school), so I should probably thank this Mr. Terence Loose for helping me procrastinate (something else I learned in theatre school).
Me in The Winter's Tale, at USC (Where I majored in Theatre)
I'm not going to moan and groan about whether or not a theatre degree is or isn't useless. Instead I will just point out the flaw in the thesis of Mr. Loose's article—or rather in the information he discussed in his article based on the National Association of Colleges and Employers' (NACE) 2012 Job Outlook study. Whether or not a theatre degree is useful can only be measured by how often a person uses the skills they built and practiced while earning that degree.
Speaking clearly, Communication, Collaboration, Listening, are just a few things we practiced every single day at the USC School of Theatre. Whether my peers became actors, accountants, dentists, travel agents or investment bankers—I'm willing to bet that they're speaking, communicating, collaborating and hopefully listening, on a daily basis. Inputting data into an Excel spreadsheet is another extremely useful skill that I exercise daily that we did not learn at USC theatre school—luckily there's a tutorial online.
Kirsten must be a glutton for punishment... By Kirsten Guenther (Writer)
Dorothy Parker said, “I hate writing. I love having written.” But in musicals, you better enjoy the process, because when it can take four to eight years to get a show up. If the show gets up.
My first writing gig, aside from the Bear Town compilation of short stories I wrote for my Grandma at age seven, was as a Paris Correspondent. Each day, I woke up (In Paris, not too shabby), wrote something about what was going on, and then went to a café where I had a café au lait and got distracted by people’s facial expressions. That was it.
There was no slaving over each and every word—no group of collaborators, no panel of producers in suits. My editor certainly never had me read it out loud to a group of a 100 people to see where they lost interest so that I could go back for rewrites. No, I turned it in, it was published. Sometimes it was good. Sometimes it was bad and sometimes it was boring. But tomorrow was always an opportunity to apply what I learned and get better.
As we all know, in musicals this is not the case. In musicals, there are multiple collaborators and together, everyone must agree on how to tell the story and then it takes often years to get out a comprehensible draft. If we’re lucky a producer is interested that has notes, we then go back, navigate our way through those notes, present it again to the producer…I could go on but already I’m exhausted writing this. Which alone says something about the long arduous process.
But here’s the trick. There’s something about it that I can’t get enough of. The fact is, is I prefer rewriting to writing—I’m thankful for the opportunity to be constantly working with a group of people who bring a different perspective than my own to make the show better. I am excited knowing that I could not do it alone, but need the composer, lyricist, director, musical director, actors, etc.
Though every once in a while I’m shocked by how long this process takes. I was on the phone with an old friend who’s in finance last weekend he asked me what I was working on. I said, “Well, today, I’m working on Little Miss Fix-It.” He said, “Still? It must be 500 pages long.”
Leonardo Da Vinci said, “Art is never finished. They are only abandoned.” I’d say, for me, musicals are never finished until someone grabs me by the hair and pulls me from it kicking and screaming, “Just, let me add this one line!”
Kirsten confesses her longtime crush... Kirsten Guenther
It’s no secret I like ‘em older. Walter Cronkite and John Hancock were all early crushes of mine. So it was no surprise when I fell for Sheldon Harnick. My crush first started to form when I heard a recording of “She Loves Me” in college. Though I had played Mirala in Fiddler on the Roof in fourth grade, at the time I was obsessed with Hancock . (We were studying the American Revolution.)
But at NYU four years ago, I took a master class with Lee Adams – who is of course, incredibly dreamy (but he was my teacher and that’s not allowed, right Mrs. Sharp?) Well, it turns out Lee is very good friends with Sheldon. I was so close.
A year later, Ryan and I were named Dramatist Guild Fellows and we had to go in to meet the board. Lee, being a member of the board waved at me, I waved back – but wait – who was that next to Lee? But my crush, Sheldon Harnick! I motioned to Lee to introduce me, but he didn’t seem to understand my sign language and Stephen Schwartz was talking about the importance of young voices in musical theatre so I thought I better pay attention. And then, my chance: Sheldon dropped an apple. I reached to grab it for him but Lynn Ahrens beat me to it.
Kirsten's pals Kooman and Dimond put out an awesome album... Kirsten Guenther (Musical Theatre Writer)
I met Michael Kooman at an artist's (gag me) loft party in Brooklyn. Everyone was wearing summer scarves but us. We bonded. We shared our first laugh when I heard his song "To Excess" at a concert and we shared our first Kleenex when he took me to a Rosie's Theatre Kids benefit.
This week, Michael and his writing partner Christopher came out with the album "Out of Our Heads." They were kind enough to give me a preview -- It is lovely and moving and funny and filled with heart. Check it out here.
Kirsten spits water out her nose while reading this email... Kirsten Guenther (Musical Theatre Writer)
As some of you know I have two cats. Sarah and Charlie – they live with my mom in California. Charlie happens to be disabled. He has a club foot and a deformed nose and is mentally a bit slow. He doesn’t know he’s a cat is the thing, so he just copies whatever he sees humans do. If I’m watching a movie, he puts his arm around me, if I’m drawing a bath, he jumps in. In the spirit of Charlie and Sarah I thought I’d share what I consider to be one of the best emails of 2010.
Me and Charlie, photo by Suzanne Roland
Why never to ask favours from the designers
Story goes : Shannon (the secretary) has lost her cat and has asked David (the graphic designer) to help with a lost poster. This is their email correspondence----read from top to bottom….
From: Shannon Walkley Date: Monday 21 June 2010 9.15am To: David Thorne Subject: Poster
Hi I opened the screen door yesterday and my cat got out and has been missing since then so I was wondering if you are not to busy you could make a poster for me. It has to be A4 and I will photocopy it and put it around my suburb this afternoon.
This is the only photo of her I have she answers to the name Missy and is black and white and about 8 months old. missing on Harper street and my phone number. Thanks Shan.
From:David Thorne Date: Monday 21 June 2010 9.26am To: Shannon Walkley Subject: Re: Poster
Dear Shannon, That is shocking news. Although I have two clients expecting completed work this afternoon, I will, of course, drop everything and do whatever it takes to facilitate the speedy return of Missy. Regards, David.
From: Shannon Walkley Date: Monday 21 June 2010 9.37am To: David Thorne Subject: Re: Re: Poster
yeah ok thanks. I know you dont like cats but I am really worried about mine. I have to leave at 1pm today.
From: David Thorne Date: Monday 21 June 2010 10.17am To: Shannon Walkley Subject: Re: Re: Re: Poster Dear Shannon, I never said I don't like cats. Attached poster as requested. Regards, David.
From: Shannon Walkley Date: Monday 21 June 2010 10.24am To: David Thorne Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Poster
yeah thats not what I was looking for at all. it looks like a movie and how come the photo of Missy is so small?
Get To Know The Lark. Cool thing about the Lark? They don’t produce plays. They develop them. Therefore they are 100 percent committed to helping the writers realize their vision in the creative process. I’ve been fortunate enough recently to benefit from their incredible facility in terms of writing space as well as their smart and generous feedback. I highly recommend getting to know more about The Lark.
"When writers are free to write what they choose, in the ways that they choose, they’re able to convey unique visions of the world. The Lark brings together professional actors, directors and playwrights to allow writers to learn about their own work by seeing it—and by receiving feedback from a community of committed artists." –The Lark website
Measure of Success - "The conference room of a midtown office. A group of workers settles in for another day of work. Looming layoffs and a surprising assignment lights the fires of spirit and desire under the normally sedate team. Soon, they’re confronting themselves, each other and the possibility of a very different tomorrow."
Alex Brightman sings "Tryin' To Do Me" from Measure of Success, music and lyrics by Julian Fleisher
When I was a kid we used to go over to my grandparents on Sundays. In the afternoon Grandma (that's not her in the picture) used to make me a root beer float. While she churned the ice cream I used to sit on a stool by the bulletin board where you were supposed to post any phone messages. And I used to stare at a tiny clipping from a newspaper, that had been taped over and over throughout the years as it fell from the thumb nail holding it onto the board.
The tiny piece of paper read: "It ain't the things you don't know that get you into trouble, it's the things you know for sure that ain't so." I believe that's when I first fell in love with Mark Twain.
Some of my favorite Twain quotes include:
"It's no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense." "Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society."
"Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial 'we.'"
"Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see."
"When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it happened or not."
"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect."
"Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work." "The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them."
"The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated."