A “Starstruck” musical? Really? Yes!
Some of you might have seen me talking about this in my newsletter or on social media, but finally I have a something I can share with you. Yes, this is really happening! Here’s the story…
Almost two and a half years ago, I was visiting my daughter Bethany and her family in Germany for Christmas. On New Year’s Eve, over generous libations, she suddenly got a manic gleam in her eye and said to me, “Wait, what if Starstruck was a musical??” As a professional singer and actress, she had been involved in the creation of a few new musicals in recent years, so I wasn’t caught TOTALLY off-guard when she got that faraway look on her face and started rambling about “Hm, Marsha will need an “I want” number, and ooh, we could totally do a girls’ makeover trio with Bri and Deb! We’ll need big chorus numbers with all the high school kids… I think this has real potential as a high school musical!”
I smiled and nodded, but didn’t take her too seriously. She has a habit of getting very excited about new ideas (especially when wine was involved…) that she never ends up seeing through to completion. So I told her to go for it, half expecting that by morning she’d have forgotten all about it.
The very next morning, by the cold, sober light of day, her enthusiasm was undimmed and she sat down and started sketching out a rough scene-by-scene plan of how to adapt my first-person narrative novel of over 100,000 words into a two-hour musical for an ensemble cast. Though she had to fit it in around her paid work and raising her then one-year-old son, James, within a few months she had a first draft of a script, including lyrics for all the songs! At that point, she teamed up with a composer and friend I’d met that she had worked with before, Steve Nobles.
Over the next two years, the two of them worked closely together to bring the lyrics to life with Steve’s fantastic music. He’s incredibly humble, but I think his music is absolutely PERFECT for this story! He describes his own musical style as “aspiring to be a blend of Disney’s Alan Menken and Broadway’s Stephen Sondheim.” We had hoped to have a premiere in November of 2020 at an English-language high school in Berlin, but that wasn’t able to happen, because… Covid. Still, Steve and Bethany kept working, bringing Lionel Wharton onto the team to create high-quality backing tracks that could be used by theatres hoping to produce the show without the expense of hiring an orchestra.
Armed with these tracks, they began a virtual workshopping process, tapping a network of out-of-work (again, thanks to Covid) musical theatre performers in New York City. Via Zoom, they “staged” readings and feedback sessions that I had the benefit of attending. To say I was blown away to hear my own work presented in such a fun and different way is an understatement! After several rounds of revisions, they felt ready to record a real concept album, taking advantage of those incredibly talented performers who generously lent their time and talent to the workshops.
And now, that professional-quality concept album is ready for your listening enjoyment!
Here I present the opening number, “Is This Guy for Real?” This song introduces most of the major players in the cast, students at Jewel High, as they react to the arrival of Rigel, the new quarterback, on the first day of school:
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Needless to say, I ADORE it! (So ear-wormy!) And of course, this is just the beginning. The whole show has now been recorded and most of it is already available to listen to on YouTube. If you want to hear the rest as soon as my daughter finishes creating and uploading the lyrics videos, you can subscribe to Bethany’s YouTube channel HERE.