The shutdowns provoked by COVID-19 could have put a kibosh on in-person efficiency, but it surely hasn’t stopped the creation of recent music and theatre. In truth, the concept of songwriters trapped of their houses led producer Andrew Gerle to create the new album Artists in Residence. Launched digitally by Broadway Data June 26, the album options 14 unique songs written in quarantine; proceeds from the recording will profit The Actors Fund and the Dramatists Guild Basis.
Artists in Residence contains songs by Alan Menken, David Zippel, Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, in addition to a number of award-winning theatre writers Todd Almond, Sean Barry and Jenny Giering, Carmel Dean, Andrew Gerle, Adam Gwon, Peter Mills, Ryan Scott Oliver, Eric Value and Will Reynolds, Jonathan Tunick, Ben Wexler, Jake Wildhorn, and David and Joseph Zellnik. With performances by Harolyn Blackwell, Victoria Clark Menken, Santino Fontana, Amber Grey, Victoria Huston-Elem, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Rachel Bay Jones, Patina Miller, Christiane Noll, Laura Osnes, and Lauren Ward, and orchestrations by Tunick and Michael Starobin, the writers and performers for this album have gained 12 Tony Awards, 9 Academy Awards, 14 Grammy Awards, 13 Drama Desk Awards, thee Olivier Awards, thee Emmy Awards, six Richard Rodgers Awards, three Kleban Prizes, three Fred Ebb Awards, and three Jonathan Larson grants.
Right here, every of the songwriters affords a glimpse into the story behind their tune and the method of writing their unique piece:
“I Don’t Know About You” by Todd Almond
Almond: When Andrew reached out with this concept, I stated sure whereas having no thought what I might write about. This was earlier than the homicide of George Floyd and through the second within the pandemic when there have been many extra questions than solutions, so the emotions of isolation have been on the forefront. My nighttime desires, that are usually fully-produced and finely-plotted extravaganzas, have been filled with passageway imagery (doorways, halls, magic entrances and exits) and I had been listening to that almost all everybody else was experiencing atypical desires (or desires in any respect) as properly. So I pitched that concept to Andrew (a track about my COVID-stress-influenced desires) and he thought it was a good suggestion. So off I went.
“Important” by Ben Wexler
Wexler: When scripting this track, I used to be considering particularly of people that reside alone in New York Metropolis—not the millennial newcomers, however those that have lived a lifetime right here, have had companions and misplaced them, have developed their “New York ecosystem” of pals and neighborhood spots that will get them by way of, solely to have that stripped from them by this virus. I wished to think about a lady, who within the face of loneliness and isolation, finds a brand new set of “necessities” to get her by way of this painful time. Discovering a method to make her “OK,” or at the least virtually OK, has helped me discover touchstones in my very own life to be glad about.
“Rooftop Woman” by Andrew Gerle
Gerle: I knew I wished to do one thing enjoyable, with a number of power, one thing that allowed a bit celebration and optimism even with all the things we’re all going by way of. I had simply seen the viral TikTok video by Jeremy Cohen the place he seems out his window and sees a lady dancing on the roof of a close-by constructing and decides to ship a notice to her together with his drone. Her shocked and joyful response, and the truth that he suggests introducing himself to strangers just isn’t one thing he usually does, made me smile throughout and I assumed this could possibly be an awesome little story track. I imagined his condominium and mainly simply fleshed out his video right into a full mini three-act play. I have never heard from him but, but when he sees it, I hope he likes it!
“Two Buoys” by Peter Mills
Mills: When the lockdown started, I bear in mind feeling very grateful that I might be quarantined with my spouse, and that we’d navigate the unsure instances forward collectively. That sense of connection and mutual help is how the picture of the 2 buoys had first occurred to me. And as I continued to consider it, the metaphor appeared to resonate extra broadly, getting on the interconnectedness of a complete group or society because it weathers the storms. Throughout these instances when we now have been so remoted from each other, I’ve felt these connections all of the extra powerfully as a supply of power and hope; they’re our lifelines. Thanks, Andrew, for providing me this chance; thanks, Tori and Eli, for creating a ravishing association of my track. These connections have buoyed my spirits, and I hope the track can do the identical for others.
“Keep Residence” by Alan Menken and David Zippel
Zippel: I used to be sitting on my butt in California in self-quarantine. I had simply returned from London the place a terrific West Finish manufacturing of Metropolis of Angels closed after the 12th preview and a workshop of Cinderella lasted a single day earlier than being shuttered. Dealing with a seemingly infinite must “shelter in place,” as soon as my quarantine was accomplished, I had this concept for a track. I requested Alan [Menken] if he wished to jot down it with me. He stated sure. A few days later, I received an e-mail from Andrew Gerle asking if I wished to jot down a track for Artists in Residence. It felt prefer it was meant to be. Alan created a demo and we began to debate singers to do the ultimate model. However the extra I listened to the demo and Alan’s charming rendition it turned clear that Alan needs to be the singer.
“Discover My Approach Residence” by Adam Gwon
Gwon: This songwriting task got here at a peak second of quarantine ennui. I used to be coping with the uncertainty (and the creakiness of my idle limbs) by jogging by way of my neighborhood. I had ample time, and the jogs received longer. I quickly realized there have been enormous swaths of the neighborhood I’d by no means seen, regardless of having lived right here for practically a decade. Sure streets I hadn’t crossed, intersections the place I’d all the time turned proper, and by no means left. As I uncovered new buildings and unfamiliar blocks, my ennui was changed by marvel—at what’s on the market to be found whenever you’re pressured to desert the trail . It was a primary spark of hope, that, on the opposite facet of this, we’d discover our means again to a greater world than the one we left.
“New York Day” by Joseph and David Zellnik
The Zellniks: Maybe due to our love for the WWII period (our greatest identified present, Yank!, is about through the warfare) we instantly considered the wartime metropolis of the early ’40s, with its blackout curtains and marquees turned off. After all, 2020 could be very totally different time, however this thought impressed us to jot down a model of certainly one of our favourite genres from that point, the so-called “future nostalgia songs” that appeared ahead to the return of happier days. Musically, Joe aimed for a contemporary tackle that period’s swoony and plush harmonies, whereas David landed on an thought of conjuring up in the future within the lifetime of New York, filled with the unremarkable sights and sounds all of us took as a right. We have been thrilled our first alternative of singer, Santino Fontana—possessor of one of many prettiest voices on Broadway—stated sure straight away, and delivered a stunning rendition of the tune, tinged with melancholy however full of heat, simply precisely the tone we have been going for.
“One thing You Cannot Lose” by Jake Wildhorn
Wildhorn: I wished to jot down one thing about being shut and sincere throughout a time when it was exhausting to be. And hopefully with out it being too on the nostril.
“Time Strikes On” by Carmel Dean
Dean: Like many people, I’ve been marveling at how we’re experiencing time while we’re in quarantine. Particularly at first, when it primarily felt just like the world “stopped,” it was outstanding how shortly the times and weeks handed. And the little issues like seeing your roots develop out, your pedicure fade away—the issues we get taken care of, that we take as a right, that have been not an choice, saved reminding me that issues by no means actually STOP. After which there was the guilt of noticing these items and wanting them to get taken care of together with the shock and trauma of an unprecedented worldwide pandemic the place persons are shedding their family members and jobs and stability. So this “quarantine time warp” felt like an awesome theme to discover!
“Central Park at Nightfall” by Jonathan Tunick
Tunick: A local New Yorker, I grew up on the Higher West Aspect, a number of steps from Central Park, which was my childhood playground. Each rock was a mountain, a fort, or a desert island; each bush a jungle; each grove of timber a forest, a setting for video games and adventures. In these lengthy days of quarantine, I bear in mind my park, and lengthy, as Sara Teasdale (who lived on Central Park West 100 years in the past) did, for the “Spring,” which impressed me to compose this little track.
“What a Thought” by Ryan Scott Oliver
Oliver: My track ‘What a Thought’ is impressed by the Shirley Jackson story of the identical title ( her from her story “The Lottery” and because the supply materials for the Netflix present The Haunting of Hill Home). The unique story narrates the descent into insanity undergone by a housewife who can’t get the homicidal urge to homicide her husband out of her thoughts. Realizing how many people have been/are trapped at house with our spouses, roommates, and members of the family for months—with none escape potential—I assumed this story appeared becoming for our time. I up to date the situation to be a few homosexual couple, and my long-time collaborator Jay Armstrong Johnson and I had a blast taking part in home. For what it’s price, my real-life husband, Broadway photographer Matthew Murphy, loves the track as a result of he says he know there’s completely no fact in it. Ha, the idiot.
“Sometime” by Sean Barry and Jenny Giering
Barry and Giering: We have been thrilled when Andrew approached us to be part of the Artists in Residence venture. We’d left Brooklyn some years in the past to reside full-time within the hills of Western Massachusetts, hoping to commit extra of our power to our artistic lives and fewer to discovering methods to pay for them. And although at instances that alternative has felt like a tough one, we have been grateful to seek out ourselves in a rural location throughout this pandemic. To date, our city nonetheless has recorded no instances of COVID, which is outstanding. But our lives have been impacted in numerous methods—from the lack of writing retreats and productions of our reveals, to the top of center college and college for our children.
Caught at house with our 13- and 22-year-olds, our ideas centered on them and on what they stood to lose. Milestones at their ages appeared someway extra valuable—or at the least extra monumental—than these at ours. So our track began with them at its heart.
As any guardian will let you know, parenting is 50 % adoration and 50 % wanting to stay your child within the curbside “free field.” That steadiness modifications over time—or hour to hour—however we wished to seek out some method to specific the understanding that whereas this pandemic has been massively tragic and profoundly disruptive, it has additionally compelled us to seek out methods to be properly collectively. Which means various things for various individuals. For our household, it has meant cherishing our shared time. But nonetheless noble that may sound, our sense of appreciation saved foundering on the shoals of soiled laundry, unwashed dishes, and infinite Xbox video games. And that appeared price exploring, someway.
Our track, “Sometime,” sits in that tug-of-war between love and frustration. Half the time we really feel compelled to acknowledge our sense of gratitude and acknowledge that this time collectively is fleeting; the opposite half, we bemoan the lack of these busy Brooklyn curbsides, the place the free-box was shortly picked by way of.
“Calle Santa Barbara” by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty
Ahrens: My first intuition was to attempt to write one thing up-tempo, daring, rhythmic, perhaps even light-hearted—something however unhappy. There was an excessive amount of unhappiness already, all of us sequestered away from our regular lives and from each other. However Stephen stated, “I don’t know if I can try this proper now.” So I advised him I’d set no matter he got here up with. (Fact is, I far favor having the music first, anyway.)
Flaherty: I used to be hunkering down in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, the place my husband and I’ve a house, and wished to jot down a bit of music that mirrored how I used to be feeling for the time being, how I used to be processing issues. I got here up with a melody that felt reflective, in nature, as if somebody was trying again whereas looking for a means ahead. I performed it into my iPhone and the VoiceMemos app stamped it “Calle Santa Barbara,” which is the title of the road the place I recorded it, and despatched the tune off to Lynn.
Ahrens: The intimate melody made me think about somebody in isolation with the time to have a look at all of the objects and footage of their house, remembering the place every got here from and what recollections they conjured up, one thing I’d been doing myself. I assumed Stephen meant “Calle Santa Barbara” to be the title, so I set it. It match completely on the six-note phrase of the melody. First track of ours to be named by GPS!
“After I See You Once more” by Eric Value and Will Reynolds
Value and Reynolds: This track imagines the time once we can all collect within the theatre once more. A time once we could make music, inform tales, and be in a single huge room collectively. Our hope is that listening to the track now will assist bridge the hole to that much-awaited second. The writing occurred over the course of some days in late April whereas Will was in Brooklyn, I used to be on Cape Cod, and there have been no reside performances taking place anyplace. Our work was enhanced immeasurably by Charlie Rosen’s stirring orchestrations, the crystalline efficiency by Laura Osnes, and the unbelievable instrumentalists who lent their artistry to the track. We’re very grateful that the completed product is reaching listeners in the present day and we eagerly await when audiences can hear it once more, reside.