The Reality of Writing a Musical: A Narrative

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“Excuse me, there’s no pretense here. I happen to be genuinely self-absorbed and deeply shallow!”
― Stephen Schwartz, Wicked

Hi darling people!

Do like that Stephen Schwartz quote? Isn’t he too amahzing for words? LA is so gorgeous and rainy today-it’s really kind of making my life, to be perfectly honest. The problem with living through a drought, though, is that by the time it does rain you’ve forgotten how to open an umbrella. I know.

Some of you know about the musical I’m writing. It’s ten minutes long, it’s about a boy who can read people’s minds, and it’s just so lit. I think. What does lit mean, anyway? Writing it has been a, to use the metaphorical, journey. But the kind of journey where you listen to the Hamilton soundtrack on repeat. AKA: Amahzing.

To be still more metaphorical, writing a musical is like reading The Goldfinch by Dona Tartt*: seven-hundred pages long, filled with insanity at every turn, and kind of hard to get through at the half-way point. For those of you who have not read The Goldfinch by Dona Tartt, picture a shimmery purple unicorn with a New York accent who sometimes lets you ride on their back through lollipop meadows and sometimes chomps you on the ankle.

Just picture it.

That’s writing a musical.

I’m guessing you have just had one of the following three reactions after reading the above:

1) I love that you’re such a big sports fan! How ‘bout we go kick some baskets later? Check out my Blog: Sports and Beer! ⚽

2) Unicorns? 🦄

3) Lil, tell us more about how you conquered the shimmery purple unicorn! You so cool! 🎵🦄

 

⚽Okay, first of all, I think you’re getting golf and air-hockey mixed up! Silly kid. I will not check out your blog because I DON’T THINK YOU EVEN READ MINE! YEAH, I KNOW! HOW DID YOU GET HERE? DID THE GUY GAURDING THE DOOR LET YOU IN? JEFFERY, YOU TOLD ME YOUR AUDITION FOR THE REVIVAL OF DANCE OF THE VAMPIRES WASN’T UNTIL LATER!

 

🦄Unicorns.

 

🎵🦄Dear person, darling child, of course I will tell you more about musical-writing! I didn’t even think I was going to keep talking about it until you gave me that little boost of confidence! What a lovely person you are. May your life be filled with light and joy. May you someday win a lock of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hair on an Ebay auction.**

Ahem.

I wouldn’t say my musical was commissioned. I wish I could say that but I can’t. I’m currently taking a course in musical theatre writing and part of the course was writing a musical. Because of this there were certain requirements and rules about the musical I wasn’t commissioned to write. For starters, it had to be ten minutes exactly. It also had to have at least three songs and couldn’t be based on existing material. So out went my tapping-dancing Sherlock Holmes idea. Someday, right? Anyway, me and my collaborator (see Swan Lake The Musical where the fellow is featured) started on our musical. I quickly learned several things. The main one was There Is A Process To The Madness.

Because I am Broadway Lil, the super fabulous conveyer of all things Broadway, I will lay out the process. I love you. You’re welcome.

 

The Process To The Madness Which I Am Laying Out For You

  • Think of an award-winning idea like a boy who can somehow read people’s minds!
  • Get some white notecards. I recommend stealing some from some sort of office
  • Write each teensy weensy piece of your musical on the notecards
  • Write some titles for songs on some blue notecards you also stole from some kind of office
  • Write a script. 1 page usually = 1 minute
  • Write some songs based on the song titles. In musical theatre the song structure is AABA, so verse, verse, bridge, verse, but nowadays you can chop up the structure thanks to rock musicals like Next To Normal.
  • Be passive aggressive to someone in a New York accent to relieve stress
  • Smush the songs and script together
  • Find some actors (Tip: most people are actually actors so this shouldn’t be hard!)
  • Put on your musical!
  • Rock the world!

 

Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that, but that is the basic process used by writers everywhere. I think. I hope. Oh gosh, is it not? Am I even alive? What is life? Who am I? Hold me, my life is flashing before my eyes. Lin is that you? Oh god, it’s my Twitter feed. #stoplookingattwittersomuchoratleastdontonlyfollowpeoplewhohavelinmanuelmirandaspicturefortheirprofile.

Anyway, my musical isn’t quite finished but I am absolutely thrilled, because I am beginning to live my dream (or follow my bliss, as some of my hipster frenemies would correct me) and living your dream is the absolute best thing ever!

I hope! I don’t sound! Too! Thrilled or! Anything!

Musical Theatre rocks. It really does.

Love,

Lil

xoxo

P.S. If you leave a comment, any kind of comment, I will love you forever. Send me an emoji. A poem. A picture of your uncle Robbie who you hate. Anything.

 

*fave book ever in spite of disturbing quality that scarred me for life.

**Can I stop right here and compliment myself on my above use of emojis to bring greater meaning to my breath-taking prose?


8 thoughts on “The Reality of Writing a Musical: A Narrative

  1. Really helpful ideas !!
    Thanks very much. It truly is a fellow feeling when i’m checking out an article like yours.
    I’m so grateful I discovered your blog, your writing is genuinely terrific. Not everyone composes for the exact same factor, yet yours is actually exceptional.
    Terrific suggestions and fantastic article overall!
    Thank you for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I found your blog quite by accident Broadway Lil. Very funny and slightly hard to follow for us people of ahem mature age (or close to such age). Good luck with your musical. Maybe I will be one of the lucky ones who gets to see it live.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you found my blog! Thank you for your kind words; I do hope you will get to see my musical someday too. It’s playing in Los Angeles for one night this March and if they are going to be accepting the general public I will let everyone know!
      -Lil 🎭

      Like

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