After the L.A. debacle it took me a while to get back on track.
How did I lose that ticket? Damn!
For awhile I didn’t get a chance to think about Sweet Willow (it still did not have a name yet) due to a commission I received from a local performance group called The Rainier Chamber Winds. I re-scored an older work of mine for them that was originally composed to simulate a game of Russian Roulette. The piece consists of five movements. At the end of each, someone has to ‘pull the trigger’ on the ‘gun’. The triggered gun can be almost anything. Examples: several inflated lunch bags and one with flour in it, a series of balloons and one filled with water, etc. You get the idea. (maybe)
The piece ends when the ‘gun’ goes off irrespective of whether all the movements have been heard. It was composed for a five day festival in the UK. What was fun about the idea is that the performers and the audiences would never know if they would get to play or hear the work in its entirety. We thought it would encourage listeners to return for repeat performances.
Where is this going? I’ll tell you. The Chamber Winds wanted to perform it without the chance element but still wanted to keep the ‘loaded gun’ idea. It was going to be performed for a series of children’s concerts. An actor was hired to dress like a clown, silently play with a large inflated balloon during each of the five movements then at the very end, he breaks the balloon. The performances went well but kids cried every time the balloon went bang.
What does this have to do with Sweet Willow? I’m getting there, be patient.
I became friendly with the actor who performed as the mime. His name is Paul Prappas. He turned out to also be a gifted playwright and musician. Somehow I managed to convince him that working on this show was a good idea. He took the leap of faith and we began working like the two mad men we are. Paul wrote the first book, all five or six or seven (at some point I lost count) versions of it.
A theatre connection of mine put us in contact with a New York producer. We began to get positive feedback on our efforts.
Alas, that connection fell through when some bozo pal of the New York producer told him our show was no good.
Hmm, he seemed to like it fine prior to asking his pal.
Well, amid the weeping and the gnashing of teeth we bravely set out to storm every port. Now the story becomes all too familiar to anyone who has ever tried to publish a book, get a play produced or do anything that requires cold calls. We begin to collect rejection notices, lots of them.
Still, like our immensely talented but underdog boxer Odelle Brown in this next musical excerpt, we soldiered on.
Ringside: the opening number of Sweet Willow.
Many thanks here to the voice over talents of Adrian D. Cameron and Mathew Houot .