It all began with my reading a playbill ad looking for a book writer/lyricist…a gathering of my work and submitting. Then…
My names is Amy Baer and I am working with Keith Robinson on the musical 'Standby'. We received your application a few weeks ago for a book writing position via Playbill, and we enjoyed reading your work. Thank you for submitting your materials.
If you are still available and interested in the collaboration, would you be available for a brief phone call or Skype over the weekend or next week? We would love to tell you a bit more about our musical, as well as hear more about your work as well.”
…And with that begins one of the wildest rides I have ever been part of.
Boom- a phone meeting where we discussed my work and their vision, an assignment to read their script and come up with some ideas. Then boom, a meeting was scheduled at Starbucks in Union Square.
I sat down with the script and their cd. Their script, written with book writer/lyricist Alfred Solis, was so full of heart and love. It was such a wonderful story, and a unique premise that I was immediately drawn to it. After one week of listening to their music and reading their script, working on the audition assignment they have given me, I did something I try to never do with a job…
…I fell in love with it.
I loved the characters. I loved the idea. I loved the project. And I wanted it.
Arriving at Starbucks, I saw Keith Robinson and Amy Baer already there and I handed them two blue folders, each containing my outline and examples of what I would do. We began exchanging ideas, connecting, learning about each other…Turns out we are all from California, turns out Keith and I both run, we’re all roughly around the same age…we ended up having a lot in common. We ended up talking a long time at Starbucks.
Mentally and emotionally I was already involved and I walked out of there thinking “God, I hope they liked me.”
…Then spent the next few days wondering if they did…
…But when the emails started coming, then the phone calls…well, I knew.
From then on, it was a beautiful whirlwind of events… The auditions. Meeting Marc Eardley, our director, watching everyone’s jaws drop at Jillian Gottlieb’s audition, seeing Mike Backes crashing the callbacks and nabbing the part…then the first production meeting where we outlined where the story would go. My first Skype meeting with creator and book and lyrics writer, Alfred Solis…the first music rehearsal where I nervously met Seth Blum- an original cast member who I’d been listening to on the cd for the last month and whom I was, and am, a fan of, listening to Ashley Picciallo blast through “Without a Doubt” for the first time, listening to Matthew Corr sing through “To Feel Alive” for the first time, watching Michael-Anthony Souza breaking down in “Breakdown.” It was all so magical.
I remember the nervousness I felt before every reading, the comments, critiques, questions and notes afterwards. I remember walking into Pearl Studios for the first time and seeing Standby on the screen. I remember the rehearsal room and the long rehearsals, skyping with Keith and Amy and Al late at night, more late nights at Keith and Amy’s working side by side on new songs…
It takes a lot of trust to collaborate. This show has been in my life now for nearly seven months. Keith and Al have been working on Standby for nearly nine years. But they trusted me with their baby. I thank them for that, as I thank all of my collaborators, and the cast, and the directing team for their input and guidance, and ideas, and professionalism, and teamwork.
Our cast isn’t only a cast of actors. They are incredibly intelligent performers, and astute dramatists who brought ideas to the table that helped me in so many ways. Marc, our director, led us well in helping to shape and guide the show to where it is. Leasen Almquist and Max Gosman helped it jump to its feet. It was a team effort, as all collaborations are. I am happy to know each and every person involved. I have learned so much.
This has been the most amazing journey. Seeing the line around the building during the Fringe run, sitting in the nearly full house as the band grooved and readied the audience for what was to come, watching the lights dim, being amazed at the characters the cast had created, listening to their fantastic voices, hearing the applause, listening to people sniffle and cry all around me, being swept up in a sea of people as the show let out…then getting the message about Fringe Encores…and doing it all over again.
It has been amazing.
So here we are…one last show to go. Now I could use pull quotes from reviews to tell you why Time Out New York, or Gay Cities, or countless other people loved this show…but I’ve been doing that for weeks. I’m going to tell you why I love it. This show changed me. In learning it, and partnering with these people, and creating it together, it changed me. It can change you. In experiencing the show I’ve learned that the human spirit cannot be contained, not in a room and certainly not inside of ourselves. I’ve learned that beyond all of our actions there is always the opportunity for redemption and hope. There is always a reason to look beyond the sorrow and try to find the love, just as our characters do.
Standby is a very special show that will always be near my heart.
If you haven’t seen it yet, then you have one chance before this flight leaves forever, only one more chance to see six people figure out how to travel on… So hurry, buy your tickets, head to the Players Theatre this Sunday September 30th at 5pm. I’ll be there. This group of wonderful people will be there. I hope you will be too.
That one guy from ENCORE! on ABC. NYC based Writer/Actor/Storyteller. Theatre Maker. Husband. Bad Hombre. Cat Taunter.