Tag: Writer

Some projects I have written or have been involved in writing.

  • Sayings Songs

    This is a term that I hope to coin having done extremely limited research. While many songs and lyrics generate common sayings, like, “You can’t always get what you want” or “See you later alligator,” to name a couple well known sayings, “Sayings Songs” are songs where the lyrics come from common sayings.

    The most famous and expertly crafted example I can think of is from the Gilbert and Sullivan Operetta, “Iolanthe.” “If You Go In You’re Sure to Win” looks like any song with a verse chorus structure with the third verse sung by the Lord Chancellor taking on a different melody, both to set him aside as the one who is making the big decision during this song, but the “verse” is actually the bridge in the classic AAB structure. Also, each chorus, starts with the same first two lines and followed by 4 unique lines each round, repeating the final stanza. By doing so, W. S. Gilbert has crammed in 4 unique sayings per chorus, forcing our performers to learn different lyrics for each chorus, in three part harmony, no less. Here’s a recording, featuring my favorite Gilbert and Sullivan singer, John Reed!

    A contemporary example of a sayings song that immediately comes to mind is Rose Garden by Lynn Anderson. It contains many wise sayings such as, “still waters run deep” and “live and let live.” It’s a catchy tune, that may sound familiar. It was also sampled in the 90’s by Kon Kan in the song, “I Beg Your Pardon.” Give the original Lynn Anderson song a listen below!

    Returning to musical theatre, I was just in a production of Kander and Ebb’s “Curtains” a couple years ago and there was a song called, “In the Same Boat,” while not a great example of a “Sayings Song” since it’s really only one or two sayings, extrapolated, to some extent. It’s also a quodlibet, taking several songs and layering them together to create one big song as explained at the beginning of this track. Take a quick listen below.

    My final example comes from the show I am currently working on, “Stiff Upper Lip” from “Crazy for You.” I play the role of Eugene Fodor who actually introduces the song with the line, “But in our part of the world, we have a few sayings about this sort of thing. Stiff upper lip!” literally setting us up for a list song of sayings, simply, this time, they are all British! If you want to know how this song goes, you’ll have to come out and see me in Crazy for You at Villanova Theatre or look it up on your own.

    However, what’s interesting about these examples of “Sayings Songs” from musical theatre and operetta, in a story telling capacity, is that they come at a time of ponderance or decision making. In “Iolanthe,” the Lord Chancellor is trying to make a decision about the fate of his ward, Phyllis, and if he should allow her to marry or simply marry her himself. In “Curtains,” the locked-in cast of a show, subjected to a murder investigation, attempt to recreate the conditions of a murder, while workshopping a troublesome number. Lastly, “Stiff Upper” lip comes at a time when the cast of another “show within a show” are deciding if their show should go on given a nonexistent audience and pending foreclosure of the theater. In all instances a moment of clarity comes shortly after this song with the characters making decisions that ultimately determine their fates. Even thinking about “Rose Garden” by Lynn Anderson, these sayings are all advice of some sort, often given at times of reflection.

    As I continue working in musical theatre, I will be keeping a keen eye out for other examples of what I hope to coin as “sayings songs” and add to the list and examine their similarities and differences, perhaps updating here as I go. Reach out to me if you have any thoughts on this or have any other songs to add to the list.

  • I Wrote A Musical

    I Wrote A Musical

    Ok, more like, I’m writing a musical. It’s got a structure with many of the scenes written and placeholders for the music. Unfortunately, there’s no music yet, maybe just a few brainstorms for words, if anything. However, it’s something I will be returning to. One thing that’s helped so much with the planning process of a musical, is a book, The Secret Life of the American Musical by Jack Viertel. The author takes a close look at the structure of dozens of popular musicals and explains how all the different parts work together. I highly recommend this book if you are thinking about writing a musical. You can grab it here!

  • Ursula and Ariel Interview

    Here’s a really rough version of a sketch I wrote from my Solo Performance class at Villanova University. It’s a bit different than the typical Solo Performance piece since it’s on video, which is, of course, as a result of the pandemic.

    I chose an interview style cutting back and forth between two highly recongnizeable characters, Ariel and Ursula from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” This short comedic sketch throws a dose of reality into the interactions between this famous pair. Oh, and I have a beard that I kept the whole time. Check it out below!

  • Philly Fringe 2008-2010

    The Philly Fringe festival has always been an exciting time in Philadelphia. When it started, the festival brought underground, unknown, and often queer, entertainment to the city. It was a wonderful, accessible way to see a ton of diverse performances in a short amount of time. Each night also culminated in a Cabaret where folks could meet and network. I was lucky enough to be involved in the set design and sound creation for a show in 2008, “Waiting for the Show” written by Terence Diamond. Go here to see more of his work and below are a few picture I snapped at the time.

    The following year, along with my partner at the time, we came up with our own original show, a parody of the Philadelphia morning news called, “Wake Up Philadelphia!” Check out the playlist below for clips.

    “Wake Up Philadelphia!” entire show!

    With the mild success of “Wake Up Philadelphia!” we decided to return the following year, even bigger and better with “Now Showing” a comedic mystery story about working in a movie theatre in the 90’s. Check out the playlist below for clips..

    Scenes from “Now Showing”
  • Hidden meanings

    Hidden meanings

    In grad school I did research about potential hidden meanings in 17th century British plays using an old secret circus, traveler, and merchant language utilized by LGBTQ people across Europe called Polari. Since then, I’ve been working on revising that paper in preparation for submission to a peer reviewed theatre journal. More to come as I prepare my research. The features picture on this post is Fabuloso by Paul Baker which is a wonderful resource for Polari. Grab yourself a copy today by going here.

  • The Maids

    The Maids

    In April of 2023 I was thrilled to play the role of Madame in “The Maids” by Jean Genet presented by Automatic Arts and The Kammerspiel.

    This was very much a dream come true. I had the opportunity to do, what is often referred to as, “legit” theatre, in full drag. After many years of performing in drag in bars, very late at night, for often intoxicated patrons, with lines that I barely learned, I was finally able to perform in drag and get to bed at a reasonable hour! I suppose all those late nights at the bar have paid off.

    Seriously, though, this was a great play to feature a drag queen. There is a lot to bit off in terms of character development and the power dynamics between those characters and they get lost between fantasy and reality. In fact, this would have been a great grad school thesis, and during the process, I truly tried to give it as much attention and thought as I would a thesis. Below is a little something I wrote as part of the program notes. Here I take a brief, but deeper dive into the inner working of “The Maids.”

    Drag and Genet

    Jean Genet’s The Maids follows two maids, Solange and Claire, as they fantasize about murdering their employer, Madame. The play is celebrated for its searing critique of bourgeois society and its exploration of themes such as power dynamics, identity, and the intersection of fantasy and reality. The play’s exploration of power dynamics between oppressors and oppressed is mirrored in the world of drag performance, where drag queens and kings use clothing and performance to subvert dominant cultural narratives about gender identity.

    The maids take turns playing the role of Madame, trying on her power and status by wearing her dresses and makeup. It becomes apparent that Madame’s clothing and “finery” play a significant role in creating her power and formidability. Drag performers also do this by using clothing and makeup to create powerful and over the top personas. Indeed, the desire to stand out and find power through formidability is often the driving force behind many people’s decision to perform in drag. 

    Genet’s exploration of power and oppression also resonates with the art of drag because performers often face discrimination and marginalization similar to the maids. Drag performers use clothing and performance to challenge and subvert dominant cultural narratives about gender and class, which is risky business. On stage, a drag queen can become anybody through the power of makeup and costumes. Off stage, a drag queen must contend with a world that does not necessarily value their personhood outside of their performance. Just as the maids cannot easily escape their oppression, drag performers struggle to survive in a culture built on oppressing anyone who deviates from the current cultural norms.

    The Maids is also notable for its exploration of the interplay between fantasy and reality, as the maids’ murderous daydreams begin to seep into their interactions with Madame, leading to a sense of ambiguity and confusion. Similarly, the art of drag relies heavily on the idea of blurring boundaries, especially those related to gender. Drag performers often use their persona as a means of expressing aspects of themselves that they feel constrained to hide in their daily lives. In some cases, the drag persona is a wholly separate entity, existing apart from the performer’s off-stage identity, while other times, the drag persona is an extension of one’s identity.

    The Maids highlights the ways in which power can be used to dominate and oppress others, as Madame exploits her maids for her own gain. This critique of power structures is echoed in many drag performances, which challenge and subvert dominant cultural narratives about gender and class.

    For more information about “The Maids” click here to go to The Kammerspiel

  • The Dumpsta Players

    The Dumpsta Players

    From 2004 until 2016, I was a member of the Dumpsta Players, a Philadelphia based drag and performance art group. We performed original 30-45 scripted shows using pop songs as the musical numbers to tell a unique queer story on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. This is where I created my character, Amanda Playwythe. It was a name I chose last minute before taking the stage in the annual Prom Trash competition, the search for the trashiest prom queen! Over the course of my time as a member of the Dumspta Players I went on to win this competition more than anyone else in the history of the event! For more info and pics of the Dumpsta Players go here!

    Check out this playlist to see sample of my work with the Dumpsta Players as well as some of my favorite pictures. I’ve collected these over the years on multiple devices so I may have lost track of who took certain pictures. Please contact me and I’ll make sure to give credit where needed.