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I am so excited to announce my new partnership with NYMF (New York Musical Theatre Festival)! "Call Me Adam" will be providing NYMFerviews (exclusive interviews with some of the cast and creatives from the various productions in this year's NYMF festival).

  

 

Entries in Composer (2)

Friday
May152015

Call Answered: NYMFerview: Drew Fornarola and Marshall Pailet Claudio Quest NYMF 2015

Drew FornarolaMarshall PailetIn my next NYMFerview, "Call Me Adam" chats with writer, composer, and lyricists Drew Fornarola and Marshall Pailet about their new show Claudio Quest which will be directed by Tony and Emmy nominee John Tartaglia. Claudio Quest makes it's premiere this summer in NYMF from July 7-14! Click here for tickets!

Claudio Quest is a new musical comedy that follows a very super hero, his less super little brother, and one butt-kicking princess, as the three embark on a mission to overcome killer eggplants, a love-starved platypus, and their own 8-bit existential crisis. 

For more on Claudio Quest be sure to visit http://nymf.org/festival/2015-events/claudio-quest!

For more on NYMF be sure to visit http://nymf.org and follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

1. This summer, your show Claudio Quest is being featured in NYMF. This show is a new musical comedy that follows a very super hero, his less super little brother, and one butt-kicking princess, as the three embark on a mission to overcome killer eggplants, a love-starved platypus, and their own 8-bit existential crisis. What made you want to write Claudio Quest?

Drew Fornarola: The genesis was NYMF-related, actually! My first musical, College The Musical, was produced at NYMF years ago, and board member Charlie Fink saw it. Charlie took me to breakfast after the festival and said "I loved your show and want to commission your next project. What do you want to do?”  And I said "I’ve got this idea for a show that’s sort of like Avenue Q meets 80s video games" and Charlie said "I can’t quite picture it, but I trust you," which is honestly just about the greatest thing a producer can ever say to a writer. And thanks to Charlie’s generosity, Claudio Quest was conceived over lukewarm hash browns and coffee on Madison Avenue. 

Marshall Pailet: Drew then called me up, I was still a senior in college, and he said I’ve got this opportunity and I’d love to write it with you. He pitched me on the idea and I said "Yeah! And they’ll all have existential angst!"

Drew Fornarola: And I said "it’s a comedy."

Marshall Pailet: And I said "Yeah! And then we’ll kill off some of our leading characters!"

Drew Fornarola: It's a comedy.

Marshall Pailet: Yeah.

2. How did you come to work together? What has been the best part about this collaboration?

Marshall Pailet: We balance each other well. I’m a morning person, Drew’s a night person. I’m structure, and Drew’s tone. I’m groove and Drew’s melody. I’m handsome, and Drew’s –

Drew Fornarola: Smart?

Marshall Pailet: Yup.

3. What made you want to apply Claudio Quest to NYMF? What does this festival offer you that another one might not?

Drew Fornarola: I have a long relationship with NYMF having done two productions and been involved in numerous concerts here over the years. When this opportunity presented itself, and the team that we’ve built around the show wanted to help us do it, it was a no-brainer for us.

Marshall Pailet: It’s a great honor to be selected and we’re thrilled to be included this year! The community of artists that NYMF assembles and the energy and enthusiasm they have for new work is second to none.

4. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Claudio Quest?

Marshall Pailet: At the premiere of this piece in Washington DC, we were actually reviewed by a videogame magazine, which said "it’s really good, even if you didn’t grow up with a controller in your hand," and I think that’s really what it’s all about. Sure, the piece is (hopefully) really funny, and it evokes a nostalgia for a certain place and time, but it’s also a great, universal love story.

Drew Fornarola: Maybe they’ll leave with a song or two stuck in their head, too!

John Tartaglia5. Directing this show is none other than Emmy and Tony nominee John Tartaglia. Why did you want John to direct this show? How does his vision for the show line up with yours?

Marshall Pailet: Tartiggles is a perfect fit for our show. I’m sure he likes it when I call him Tartiggles.

Drew Fornarola: He definitely doesn’t.

Marshall Pailet: He’s a friend of ours, and since the show is tonally in a similar world to Avenue Q we naturally thought of him as an actor for it. He came and did a table read and really responded to the material, and we thought "man, if we’re really lucky, maybe he might direct it." We shyly asked if he might be interested, and somehow he actually said yes.

Drew Fornarola: Acting, directing, puppets…it’s really not fair that he’s so good at everything.

6. Who or what inspired you to become writers/lyricists?

Drew Fornarola: I decided in the back right corner of the balcony at the Majestic Theater when I was ten years old that I wanted to write musicals. It was the end of Act 1 when the "Phantom" is up in the angel crying because he realizes "Christine" really loves "Raoul." I took four years off to study politics at Princeton, but other than that I’ve really never deviated from this path.

Marshall Pailet: Writing began as something I did as a child with my dad, who is a noted lyricist in his own right. I also came from a performing background as a child. This has been in my blood for as long as I can remember.

Drew Fornarola7. What's the best advice you've ever received?

Drew Fornarola: My dad, teaching me to catch a football when I was about three: "watch it all the way into your hands, squeeze it with your fingers, and then pull it in." I didn’t drop many passes in childhood, and I try not to let too many opportunities slip through my fingers as an adult.

Marhsall Pailet: Be the hardest worker you know.

8. What have you learned about yourselves from being writers/lyricists?

Marshall Pailet: I’ve learned how hard this form really is. Everything has to gel absolutely perfectly for the musical to be a success. It’s a really unforgiving task. That said, when it all comes together properly, there’s nothing quite like it.

Drew Fornarola: Redbull and Cheez its have become important parts of my life.

9. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose?

Marshall Pailet: The ability to get my dog to stop trying to kill Drew when he comes to my apartment.

Drew Fornarola: The ability to give Marshall the ability to do that.

Marshall Pailet10. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it and what ingredients would you put in it?

Drew Fornarola: I have one! I wrote a song called "alcoholeluia" for a show, and at a production in Gainesville, FL the theater’s bartender created a drink with that name. It had a little of everything in it, was served in a pint glass, and was a strange blue color. They eventually had to stop selling them because patrons kept throwing up at intermission.

Marshall Pailet: I had a show called Triassic Parq and we had a drink called the T-Rex 1. It was better than Drew’s show’s drink.

Drew Fornarola: But my drink is bigger.

Marshall Pailet: Yeah.

More on Drew:

Drew Fornarola is a songwriter and playwright from New York. He holds a B.A. from Princeton, a J.D. from The Fordham University School of Law, and is an alumnus of the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop. He is currently developing both a new stage musical and an animated movie for DreamWorks. Theater: Molly Shannon’s Tilly The Trickster (Atlantic Theatre Company, collaboration with SNL's Molly Shannon, pub. Theatrical Rights Worldwide); Thucydides (Winner Samuel French Play Festival, pub. Samuel French); COLLEGE The Musical (NYMF Award for Excellence, pub Dramatic Publishing Co.); Claudio Quest: A Videogame Musical (Best Musical, DC Fringe, optioned by DreamWorks); and 2 musicals for children. NYMF Award for Excellence in Lyrics, John Wallowitch Award for Songwriting, Finalist for the 2014 Kleban Award and 2009 Richard Rodgers Award, four-time MAC Award nominee. Drew’s new play, STRAIGHT, is under option by Tony Award-winning producer Andy Sandberg, and highlights from his musical TIANANMEN premiered in a March 2014 concert at 54 Below starring Telly Leung and Ruthie Ann Miles. In 2013 Drew provided string arrangements for #1 charting Japanese hip hop band CREAM. http://www.drewfornarola.com

More on Marshall:

As Composer/Bookwriter: Triassic Parq (Off Broadway, Soho Playhouse; Chance Theater, Ovation Award - Best Musical; Best Musical NY Fringe); Loch Ness (World Premiere, Chance Theater); Shrek the Halls (In Development with Dreamworks Theatricals); Veggie Tales: Noah's ArkWho's Your Baghdaddy, or How I Started the Iraq War (Best Musical DC Fringe '11; Osborn Award Nominee); Super Claudio Bros. (Best Musical DR Fringe '10); The Chocolate Tree (NAMT, Houston Stages); Where It's At, The Darq Knight; Upcoming projects in development with Dreamworks Theatricals/Animation, Big Idea, RKO, and the New Musical Foundation. As Director: Triassic Parq (Ovation Nomination - Best Director); Loch NessEudaemonia; Who's Your Baghdaddy; Super Claudio Bros.; Uncle Pirate; Stuck; The 49 Project; Thursday; With Kings in the Back; The 70 Scene of Halloween; Bat Boy; Escape Artists; One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Resident Playwright Chance Theater, Graduate of Yale University. http://www.marshallpailet.com

Tuesday
Mar312015

Call Answered: NYMFerview: Greg Cooper and Vynnie Meli: Acappella: NYMF 2015

Greg Cooper, Photo Credit: Amelia DesignVynnie MeliIn my first NYMFerview, "Call Me Adam" chats with producer Greg Cooper and playwright Vynnie Meli about their new musical Acappella, about finding your own voice. Acappella will make it's NYMF 2015 debut July 7-14! Click here for tickets!

For more on Acappella be sure to visit http://www.acappellathemusical.com and follow them on Facebook and Twitter!

For more on NYMF be sure to visit http://nymf.org and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

1. This summer, you will be presenting your musical Acappella in NYMF as one of their invited productions. What does it mean to you to be part of this festival?

Greg Cooper: Acappella is my first production and a dream that has been over 12 years in the making. We are beyond excited to share this work with the world!

Vynnie Meli: Living in Atlanta, being part of this festival here in NY is especially important. I’m a NYMF veteran and I’m so glad I get a chance to do this again. My first NYMF show, Plagued - A Love Story, had a successful, extended run, but there’s a learning curve. I’ll do some things differently before, during, but especially after the festival.

2. Why did you apply to have your show in NYMF as opposed to one of the other theatre festivals in NYC? What do they offer you that another festival does not?

Greg Cooper: NYMF is an incredibly accessible platform to writers and producers of all levels.

Vynnie Meli: Greg Cooper zeroed in on this festival before I was even attached to the project. I’ve attended other workshops and conferences across the country and just sitting with a roomful of musical theater writers and composers is invigorating, but at NYMF we’re hearing from every facet of the team. It’s total immersion. The caliber of talent working on the shows is extraordinary. And humbling.

3. How did all of you come to work together? What has been the best part about this collaboration?

Greg Cooper: If there was ever such a thing as an angel on earth, it would be Vynnie Meli. We met through a mutual friend and from day one, she has nurtured this project as if it were her own child. And to date - we haven't had one fight about the script! Fingers crossed!

Vynnie Meli: An Atlanta director referred me to Greg and he approached me to write the book around the music of the Acappella Company. I’ve never even done an adaptation before, much less a "jukebox" musical, so I didn’t think it was for me. Then I listened to the music. I was immediately hooked. It’s been challenging, and I’ve written several totally different scripts, but working with Greg and this music has been an unexpected gift.

4. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Acappella?

Greg Cooper: Inspiration. Hope. I've seen countless productions and the ones that have left an impression are the ones that elevate my spirit. We committed to making sure that everyone leaves the theatre with a smile in their heart!

Vynnie Meli: As J Lo would say - "gooseys." The show is about the importance of being authentic, but listening to singers belting out this gorgeous music is like swinging on a swing - you can’t help but break out in a grin.

5. Since Acappella is about finding your own voice, how have each of you found your own voice?

Greg Cooper: Music is my voice. Words can lose their meaning over time. Music has the power to change our lives.

Vynnie Meli: Ironically, I found my own voice when I started writing in someone else’s. Throughout a career in advertising as an art director, and in fine art long before that, I was a closet writer. Quirky personal essays mostly. I always wrote - I just never shared. Playwriting freed me. It’s my characters who are slightly off kilter and provocative, not me. 

6. Additionally, Acappella seems to have a secondary theme surrounding family. How have your families supported you with your careers?

Greg Cooper: Everyone in my family is starting a business or working on something cool - I'm trying to not get left out! My family - especially my mom - inspires me to live boldy!

Vynnie Meli: An endless supply of material. And my husband, Gregg Marcus, has always been very supportive.

7. Who or what inspired you to want to work in theatre/music?

Greg Cooper: The music of "The Acappella Company" (Keith and Melissa Lancaster) is the soundtrack of my life. As I listened, I began to see the music in distinct visuals. I wanted everyone in my life to have that same experience. A musical seemed like a natural step.

Vynnie Meli: My Danish mother was a dancer. As a kid she was singing and tap dancing on the radio (picture that). She played castanets and toured Cuba in water shows (picture Esther Williams). They threw great parties and she still dances in the kitchen. 

8. What has been the best advice you've ever received?

Greg Cooper: "Go figure it out." That's my mom. She would never give us the answers to anything. She would make us read and learn on our own. That's paying dividends today. My sister Sandra didn't always buy in. She would say: "She's only saying that because she doesn't know the answer!"

Vynnie Meli: Lift with your legs.

9. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose?

Greg Cooper: Flying! How cool would that be?!!

Vynnie Meli: My daughter, Quinn Marcus, just made a short film about the downside of being a superhero, so I’d have to think twice. 

10. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it and what would the ingredients be?

Greg Cooper: I've actually already done that! Whenever I go to a restaurant, I make them mix every flavor they have into my tea - raspberry, peach, mango - it's called a "Cooper!"

Vynnie Meli: I don’t know the ingredients, but I’d definitely call it "A martini in a pretty glass." That’s how my mother always asks the waiter for hers.

Greg Cooper, Photo Credit: Amelia DesignMore on Greg:

Greg is a 27 year veteran of radio and television broadcasting with an extensive background in production, development and management. A graduate of the University of Florida's School of Journalism, Greg has written and produced national television commercials, corporate video and syndicated radio programming. www.gregcooperproductions.com

More on Vynnie:

Vynnie is a playwright, lyricist, and librettist. Her first play, Keats in Curlers, premiered Off-Broadway at The Looking Glass Theatre. Other productions include Chopped Liver in Paradise; September Tenth; and Jim Crow and the Rhythm Darlings. Plagued, A Love Story was a Next Link selection in the 2009 New York Musical Theatre Festival. Working with various composers, Vynnie has won the Judges Award at Atlanta Opera's 24-Hour Opera Project 3 years straight. www.vynniemeli.com