I'm starting a new blog feature called the "Helen Hero of the Week." There are so many people out there who have been supporting Robby and I as we've been "emerging" as a writing team, and we don't want them to go unnoticed. Whether it's been providing us with financial support, advice, their skills and talents, sound equipment, lighting instruments, or opportunities to write and develop work in a positive and supportive atmosphere, these friends, colleagues and organizations restore our faith and belief in ourselves and our projects, and give us the stamina to keep going.
....now, drum roll please.....
For the week of March 7th, the Helen Hero of the Week is The York Theatre Company. We just finished a month of work with the York on their 4@15 series. Again, like the Kaufman Center, where we write and fully mount eight original children's musicals in a month...four unique, fun, sweet 15-minute musicals now exist where there were none.
That's thanks to Brian Blythe and Tammy Holder, the creators (and director and music director) of this winning collaboration between NYU and the York; thanks to James Morgan the Producing Artistic Director of the York who enthusiastically supported the idea; and this year, to a number of actors who donated to the program on behalf of the late Joesph Stein.
I was thrilled to be a part of this from the get go. All I was responsible for was writing! No hiring of designers, no choreography or blocking to map out, no actors to hire, no space to rent--it was all provided for us. And that, my friends, was both a luxury and a gift.
Not to mention that our work was in the most able of hands with Tammy and Brian leading the pack. We had eight talented performers who not only performed our work beautifully, but inspired and shaped our writing. And best of all, our work was seen by four packed audiences over the weekend. As a writer, what more can you ask for?
But, there is more. And this is where I start to thank my lucky stars that Robby was too busy to write lyrics for our "Princely Frog" music four years ago, so I was forced to begin my career as a lyricist. This project, and our work as writers, was funded in the name of the great Joseph Stein (book writer of Fiddler on the Roof, Rags, The Baker's Wife and so many others).
Here's how it happened (and I'm plagiarizing from the program):
Last year, the York Theatre Company was saddened by the loss of our dear friend, Broadway legend Joseph Stein. He was one of the great writers of musical theatre, and we were honored to celebrate the breadth of Joe's work by presenting seven of his shows in our Musicals in Mufti Series...At the request of the family, we have received a number of donations in Joe's honor. One, in particular, came from members of the various companies of Enter Laughing, with a special request. We were asked to 'pay it forward' in some way, supporting musical theatre writers. The generous donation is being used to supplement the commission paid to this group of 4@15 writers.
The York Theatre Company staff and Board of Directors extend a special thanks to those who made it happen. And a very special thanks to Joe, for inspiring a generation of musical theatre artists to continue to strive for the excellence he personified.
This is why we do what we do. Not for the money. Robby and I are not in this for the money. But, there is something so wonderful about feeling supported by one of musical theatre history's greats and passing it on so that we can keep this unique American form of theatre alive.
Joe, Robby and I couldn't be more grateful or honored.
Our additional thanks to:
- Our talented actors: Nic Casaula, Melissa Rapelje, Lauren Lawson, Melanie Rothman, Drew Berezowitz, Esther Kong, Ashley Sweetmen, Matt Savoca
- Our fellow writers for inspiring us with your brilliant writing: Jim Colleran, Rob Krausz, Danny Lepek and Andy Monroe.
- Our fearless leaders Brian Blythe and Tammy Holder.
- James Morgan and the York for nurturing writers and being dedicated to developing and producing new musicals, as well as preserving notable shows from the past.
- Elisa Stein for supporting our work and taking part of this special program.
- All our friends who came out and supported us by seeing the show!