ASCAP Songwriters Showcase 2012
As host for ASCAP’s New Songwriters Showcase at the Gardenia in West Hollywood Aug. 18, cabaret star Andrea Marcovicci opened the show by singing “The Lilac Tree.” Also called “Perspicacity,” the late George H. Gartlan wrote the tune in 1920 about a boy, a girl and a kiss. ASCAP is the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.
“They don’t write songs like they used to,” Marcovicci sighed, but quickly added, “Not writing songs like they used to is a great thing. New ways of composing theater music is a great thing.” Praising today’s young composers, she said, “The good news is the songs rhyme and the melodies soar.”
As this year marked ASCAP third annual event, Marcovicci started with an update on songwriters presented in the 2011 ASCAP New Songwriters Showcase.
She said Benj Pasek and Justin Paul had a hit off-Broadway musical, “Dogfight,” and their next musical, “A Christmas Story,” opens on Broadway in November. Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner’s musical, “First Date,” she said, ran last spring in Seattle.
“This is quite the place to be,” she said.
Although Marcovicci didn’t give the update on the 2010 presenters, composer Adam Gwon has since won the $100,000 Kleban Prize for most promising new lyricist. And regarding that year’s guest singers, Megan Hilty now stars in TV’s “Smash” and Steve Kazee won the 2012 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Lead Actor in a Musical.
This year, Gregory Nabours started the show with selections from his repertoire, which included his Ovation Award-winning song cycle, “The Trouble With Words,” and his new musical, “Steamtowne.” Nabours described the latter as a post-apocalyptic “Moulin Rouge” and introduced LaToya London, a finalist on season three of “American Idol,” who belted out the number, “Fool’s Gold.”
Songwriters David Hein and Irene Sankoff followed with the opening from “My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding.” An autobiographical show, Hein sang with Sankoff about his mother’s ceremony in Canada, which – according to the lyrics – allows same sex marriage, offers medical marijuana and took home Olympic Gold for trampoline. Wiccan is a Pagan religion.
On a more poignant note, the duo ended their set with a song from “Come From Away,” their musical based on 9/11, when 38 planes with 7,000 people were diverted to Gander, Newfoundland. With few hotels and a total population of 9,000, Hein said the islanders opened their homes, and welcomed, fed and housed the stranded visitors until the planes could again fly.
In introducing the final songwriters, Patrick Lundquist and Peter Seibert, Marcovicci included among their credits, Seibert’s writing musical arrangements for “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never.”
“Did you meet Justin Bieber?” Marcovicci asked with a smile. (Seibert said no, but he indeed contributed music to Bieber’s documentary, TV’s “Drop Dead Diva,” and other films and TV shows.)
The pair ended the show with three selections from “Swan Lake,” which they called an “epic retelling” of the classic story ballet at a time of war. For the night’s stirring finale, eight performers piled onto the stage to sing “Will I Last the Night?”
The night’s guest performers also included Ciaran McCarthy, Carrie St. Louis, Kate Sullivan Gibbens, Patrick Burns, Heather Harvin, Raquel Jeter, Aaron Scheff, Jordan Rogers, Christi Columbo and Janay Byrd.
Produced Friday and Saturday by Michael Kerker, ASCAP’s Director of Musical Theatre, the event was part of the Festival of New American Musicals, which has as its honorary chairs: Stephen Sondheim, Stephen Schwartz, Jerry Herman, Angela Lansbury and Jason Alexander. The Festival continues with two remaining works, “For the Record: John Hughes,” which ends Sept. 15, and “The Existents” on Sept. 17.
The Festival of New American Musicals, in conjunction with Darren Criss of “GLEE” and FNAM executive producers Marcia Seligson, Bob Klein, and Linda Shusett, is also about to launch “SHOW SEARCH,” a national competition for young musical theater composers between the ages of 15 – 25 years old. Click here for details of the Festival and Show Search.
Top photo: From left, Andrea Marcovicci with songwriters David Hein and Irene Sankoff at the ASCAP New Songwriters Showcase 2012 at the Gardenia in West Hollywood
Second photo: Songwriter Gregory Nabours with Linda Shusett of the Festival of New American Musicals at the ASCAP New Songwriters Showcase 2012
Third photo: Songwriters Peter Seibert, left, and Patrick Lundquist, right, at the ASCAP New Songwriters Showcase 2012 at the Gardenia
Fourth photo: From left, at the 2010 ASCAP New Songwriters Showcase: songwriter Adam Gwon, guest singers Megan Hilty and Steve Kazee, and songwriter Ryan Scott Olivier
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ASCAP New Songwriters Showcase 2012 at the Gardenia
Published Aug. 21, 2012 – Ellen Olivier, Society News LA