Thursday, March 12, 2015

"23 Revue" Reaches First Plateau

After dinner this evening, I opened a fortune cookie.  "Take the first step today."  As it happens, I did.  I've got "23 Revue" to the point that it could, if anyone had the bucks to throw away, be ready for a workshop.  Last week I finished the lyric book and today I saw the first act orchestrations on paper.   I've seen my choral arrangements printed out.  I've hardly ever done orchestrations, never had them printed out, and today I saw the first 360 pages of the 702 page score.  It's on 8-1/2 by 11 and clearly needs to be on bigger paper, but it's there and it's just flipping amazing to see.  I've recorded the show from my computer and the revue times out to 2 hours and 10 minutes.

The title comes from the most recent year for almost all music to be in the public domain. That's rags, George Cohan's music, Jerome Kern's "Princess Theater" music, songs for the Great War, lamenting prohibition, some excellent song-and-dance numbers, and blues.  This is music I love, and I didn't have to pay for the right to use it.

"23 Revue" (23 skiddoo sound alike) is now the biggest thing I've done.  I've written two novels and several documentary scripts, but they didn't take 2+ years to do.  First I arranged the sheet music for a better sounding piano.  Then I scored it for a 17- to 20-piece pit band and for solo voice, duet, up to a full 12- or 16-voice ensemble.  I arranged the dance breaks.  And while I've been making "23 Revue" grow for the last two years, today I saw the hard copy.  The lyric book (script) was one thing, but it also looks like a book of poetry.  Today I saw the notes, those black marks on the page that bring the songs to life.  Somehow that made it real.

There are still things to be done.  I've changed some of the lyrics to try to make them not be be offensive, but I'm white and I don't know what would be considered offensive to people of color, aside from the really obvious.  I want to use "Darktown Strutter's Ball," for example, but I don't know what ought to be changed and re-worded, and the same goes for other songs.  And how do I ask people if the words are offensive or troubling without sounding like the whitest guy in the world?

I know I'll never hear it beyond the strange electronic sounds from the computer.  I never expected it to see the light of a stage.  Now, however, I can follow the score away from the computer, turn pages, feel it and hear it.  So, yeah...the culmination of more than 2 years' work turns into taking the first step.

If this were The Producers, it's where Max would tell Leo that Max is now going into "Little Old Lady Land."  It's not, it won't happen, but what a feeling of accomplishment!

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