Thursday, April 23, 2015

Remembering the gifted Ellen Schwartz: links to a site put up by her family

Remembering the brilliant, gifted writer Ellen Schwartz with a link to the site her family put up

Linking to a site celebrating the lyrics of our dear late friend Ellen Schwartz:

Direct link to several of her shows:  A Cast Of Thousands, Come Up 'N See Me!, A Letter To Harvey Milk, Tangled Webs, The Trapped Family Singers

and some demo highlights from "TANGLED WEBS" which Ellen Schwartz co-wrote with Skip Kennon and Bill Connington, based on a story by Fred Landau called WEBCAST:

CAST for "TANGLED WEBS" demo recording: Rebecca Luker (singing the leading role of hopeful producer Jeanine Morgan), Ric Ryder (as her discovery and love interest Aaron Stephenson), William Parry (as devious above-the-title producer Jerry Bruckner) and Andrew Kober (as jealous right-hand man Charles), along with Jan Horvath (the diva Miranda Grey), Neal Mayer (critic Harrison Stone), Georga Osborne and Leenya Rideout (as best friends and show backers Cissie and Claudine, as well as ensemble).

Friday, August 23, 2013

"TANGLED WEBS" overview - updated Nov. 2013

TANGLED WEBS, a dark romantic musical comedy
With backstage intrigue so in the news in musical theater lately, we (coincidentally) have the first brand new musical written on that subject out of the gate...

Book by Bill Connington      
Music by Skip Kennon   
Lyrics by Ellen M. Schwartz
Based on the story “Webcast” by Fred Landau

Just e-mail AOL address dylan43rd, and we'll send you some demo mp3's

Many thanks to the wonderful performers on the demo -      
Jeanine Morgan - Rebecca Luker      
Aaron Stephenson - Ric Ryder      
Jerry Bruckner - Bill Parry                
Miranda Grey - Jan Horvath      
Charles  - Andrew Kober                  
Harrison Stone - Neal Mayer   
Cissie - Georga Osborne                
Claudine - Leenya Rideout

(8 principals, plus variable additional players)

Our plot is about the need for recognition in a business where credit is recognition, and recognition is just about everything.

But our musical actually speaks to all audience members’ needs to get recognition for what they accomplish, and even a fantasy notion of dealing with people who try to steal that recognition.  

The show’s overall story is this:   Jeanine Morgan is an elegant, recently widowed Park Avenue lady, around late 40's to early 50’s.  A computer whiz and theater enthusiast, she goes to work as an intern in the office of producer Jerry Bruckner, about 60, and on her first day going through the mostly unpromising submissions to his office, she discovers the work of Aaron Stephenson, late 20's - the work speaks to her almost immediately and she will stop at nothing - absolutely nothing, including possibly murder - to get Aaron's work to the Broadway stage.




And I'll Seal It With a Kiss - sung by Rebecca Luker

Flying (in a Starry Sky) - sung by Rebecca Luker
Also, a song sung by Jeanine's love interest, Aaron:
YOU DON'T SEE ME - sung by Ric Ryder, singing as "Aaron" 

Friday, April 6, 2012

SONG-BY-SONG SYNOPSIS of the musical "Tangled Webs" and author bios


Book by Bill Connington      Music by Skip Kennon   Lyrics by Ellen M. Schwartz
Based on the story “Webcast” by Fred Landau

OPENING E-MAILS and NOT YOUNG – After several months of mourning, Jeanine is encouraged by her friends to rejoin the world. In this song Jeanine sings at first to her deceased husband and then to herself as she dresses and goes to her first day at a new job and new life.  She sings to her late husband, as if seeking his approval at first, finally confidently arriving at the door of her new job.
YOU NEVER KNOW – Jerry Bruckner and his flamboyant assistant Charles introduce Jeanine to the world of theater producing.  Their motto:  “We read and listen to everything.”  They guide her through examples of the dreck and shmutz they have to wade through to get the gems that they’re working to bring to the world - including listening to some outrageously bad ideas [acted out for the audience as the songs play] like Willard the Musical, and Intermission (where there’s no show, just intermission.).
Jerry and Charles leave to go to a reading, content that the submission pile is in good hands.  Jeanine starts through the pile of scripts, daunted but wanting to do well.
First she listens to a CD that Charles pointed her to (MY SONG – SONG FROM CHARLES’ BAD SHOW) and finds it reprehensible, and can’t imagine why Charles has pointed her to it.  [Jeanine doesn’t know that Charles wrote the show, as Charles tells her “it’s my neighbor’s show.”  After listening, her response is “If my neighbor wrote that, I’d move.”].  She keeps going through the pile, because that’s her job and she’s happy to be doing it.
MY WORLD BEGAN THIS MORNING – She happens upon a song MY WORLD BEGAN THIS MORNING performed and written by young composer–lyricist Aaron Stephenson from his show TANGLED WEBS.  She loves it.  In steps we watch Jeanine listening, then lights on Aaron performing, then lights down on Jeanine as a cabaret room that same evening is revealed around Aaron, then Jeanine is revealed in the audience near the end of the song.
Jeanine convinces Aaron to get his work ready to show to Jerry Bruckner.  They sing IS THIS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, reflecting some feelings they’re not sure about already growing between them.
After a backer’s audition, Jerry says he loves Aaron’s show but can’t raise a dime without a name; he insists that the show needs a star and he gets two-time Tony winner Miranda Grey to do the later backers auditions (NO TIME FOR LOVE), as Jeanine willingly goes through the process of raising money, from cold calls to complex computer algorithms she devises.  By song’s end, Jeanine has raised enough for an out-of-town production, with promise of more if the reviews warrant coming in to NYC.
I HEARD HIS MUSIC – After Aaron brings her flowers to thank her, Jeanine confides again in her late husband Arthur that she feels something strong in the guidance she can give Aaron, but knowing Aaron’s attracted to her, something is telling her she has to keep her heart from getting involved.
YOUR PLACE OR MINE? – Jeanine’s producer boss Jerry not only admires Jeanine’s taste in picking material, organizing backers-auditions and raising money, he admires the woman herself and would like some real hands-on time with her.  Isn’t it time for her to fully come out of mourning?
YOU DON’T SEE ME - Out of town with the show:  Young composer-lyricist Aaron has felt a connection with Jeanine since the moment he met her and he is hugely grateful for all she has done for him and his show.  Although she feels the same way Jeanine has continually brushed him off, saying: “let’s keep it professional; you can’t be serious,” feeling: “this can’t be real, he’s too young, I’m too old, don’t go there, etc.”  As he performs a first-act song from his show,  a song called YOU DON’T SEE ME, Aaron is really singing of his frustration with and deep feelings for Jeanine.
At the intermission of the out-of-town opening performance, Jeanine finds out that Charles (jealous that Jeanine rejected Charles’ work and has been pushing Aaron’s work with Jerry) invited Times critic Harrison Stone (Charles’ boyfriend, unbeknownst to Harrison’s wife).  Jerry, who has a heart problem, nearly collapses upon seeing Harrison there, because Harrison had panned and killed his last three shows.  Charles and Jeanine revive Jerry with the pills in Jerry’s jacket pocket.
WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU EXPECT?  - We see two hotel rooms, Jeanine’s hotel room (where Miranda & Aaron are visiting and getting too cozy with each other for Jeanine’s comfort) and Charles & Harrison’s hotel room.  In her room, Jeanine has tapped into the computer in Charles and Harrison’s hotel room, and notices that Harrison is typing a good review of the show.  But the review suddenly takes an ugly, negative turn, and Jeanine realizes that Charles has something to do with it.  Suddenly, there’s a knock on Charles and Harrison’s hotel room door and a gunshot, then another.
TRANSITIONAL E-MAILS and FLYING – It’s the first preview in New York weeks later.  The review in the Times for the out of town production had been a rave (despite the death of the critic Harrison) and anticipation is high.  Jeanine is on top of the world, and rubs her late husband’s nose in her moment of glory.
Jerry appears, again promising Jeanine that she’ll be the toast of Broadway producers if she and he are a couple.  Miranda Grey appears as if from nowhere, pointing out to Jeanine that whatever she may have been promised, Jeanine’s name is not in the program above the title as a producer.  Jerry acknowledges that he screwed Jeanine over, that’s the business, and Jeanine gets an idea.  Knowing that Jerry has the heart problem, she seduces him (AND I’LL SEAL IT WITH A KISS) and when he begs her to get his pills from his pocket, she leaves him on his own.
Opening night on Broadway.  The show is a smash, as Jeanine sees on the internet as the reviews come out.  Aaron and the cast and Jeanine’s friends celebrate backstage (SHE DA MAN)
But Miranda (who had been having a relationship with Jerry) knows Jerry never signed the contract with Jeanine and that Jerry’s signature on it is a forgery.  She teases Jeanine with the information, demanding to meet with her at Jerry’s office after the opening night party.
At Jerry’s office in the wee hours of the morning:  Miranda wants Jeanine’s money from the show, or else she’ll let the world know about the forgery.  In the show’s grand finale (TANGLED WEBS FINALE), Jeanine kills Miranda by use of a peanut allergy she found out Miranda has had, and Aaron walks in on this.  Realizing that Aaron is a witness to her confession to having killed not only her husband Arthur, but also Charles, Harrison, Jerry and now Miranda, Jeanine pulls a gun on Aaron. But rather than being horrified, Aaron is overwhelmed emotionally by Jeanine having killed to get his show to Broadway, and the two of them sing “My World Began This Morning” in the finale as a new day dawns.

BILL CONNINGTON (bookwriter) is a New York-based actor and playwright.  His play “ZOMBIE,” based on the novella by Joyce Carol Oates, was a smash at the NYC Fringe Festival, and an off-Broadway sensation at Theater Row and John Jay College. A feature-length film of “ZOMBIE” is scheduled to be shot next year, and the 2010 twenty-minute film version won Best Short Film (Horror) at the D.C. Int’l Film Festival, as well as  Best Short Dramatic Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor at Terror Film Festival.  He also wrote and appears in the “The Thornhills of Park Avenue, “ now on the film festival circuit. His one-act musical “The Eternal Anniversary” (with songs by Skip Kennon) was performed at 59E59 Theater.  He’s performed in "Spectacle of Spectacles" at La MaMa E.T.C., "Mr. Gallico" at HERE Theatre, "All Mixed Up Inside My Head" at La MaMa E.T.C., "Just Like That" at the John Houseman Theater, and in his own one-man play, "Dating Rituals of the American Male," at the Royal Theater. Other performances include "Love Letters," and "A Cheever Evening" at the Society Library. His other plays include "God and the Supermodel", "The Perfect Lady", "Walker", and "The Relationship Thing". His plays "Lord Byron's Lover"; "Teach Me All About Love, Johnny Mathis"; and his adaptation of "The Picture of Dorian Gray", have been performed in New York. He’s a graduate of the London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art.  In addition to portraying psychopathic serial killers, he’s equally at home with portraying sweet romantic fellows who get the girl. 

SKIP KENNON (composer) wrote the music for Herringbone (book by Tom Cone, lyrics by Ellen Fitzhugh; La Jolla, McCarter, Williamstown Festival, Playwrights Horizons, Hartford Stage, Edinburgh Festival, Philadelphia’s Prince Music Theater, Chicago’s St. Nicholas Theater) and the one-act Afternoon Tea (book/lyrics by Eduardo Machado; 59E59 Theater, directed by Billy Hopkins; also at INTAR starring Ed Harris and Amy Madigan). He wrote music & lyrics for The Last Starfighter (Storm Theatre, NYMF, Village Theatre), Blanco (Goodspeed, NAMT), Feathertop (WPA Theater, PA Stage), and Time &Again (book by Jack Viertel; Manhattan Theatre Club, Old Globe Theater, O’Neill Center National Music Theater Conference).  Skip also wrote the music and lyrics for the one-act Plaisir d’Amour (book by Terrence McNally), which was seen in workshops at Manhattan Theatre Club and Circle Rep in 1994, and was featured at 59E59 Theater in summer 2008. On film and video, his music and lyrics can be heard in the 2003 film festival favorite Friends and Family (Regent Entertainment) and in Disney’s DVD Premiere Award-winning video feature Hunchback of Notre Dame Part II (songs sung by Jason Alexander, Tom Hulce, Charles Kimbrough and Haley Joel Osment). Skip moderated the first year of the BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop for twenty years (overseeing the whole program for ten of those years) and taught at the world famous Neighborhood Playhouse for ten years.   He is a graduate of Redondo Union High School and the USC School of Music.  He is a member of the Dramatists Guild, BMI and Musicians Local 802.  Other projects include Viva Max!, a musical version of the novel by Jim Lehrer, with collaborators Fred Landau and Julie Miller. 

ELLEN M. SCHWARTZ (lyricist)  is the winner of The Andrew Lloyd Webber “Quest for New Musicals” for her musical (lyrics, book and music by Ellen Schwartz & Bonnie Sanders) COME UP 'N SEE ME, which was seen at the Penguin Rep and at the York Theatre.  Ellen is also the lyricist on A LETTER TO HARVEY MILK (finalist for 2012 Richard Rodgers Award, NYMF Next Link selection 2012), written with composer Laura I. Kramer and librettist Jerry James, based on the story by Leslea Newman, recently seen in presentations at the Helen Mills Theatre.  Ellen has written extensively for the musical theater and for film and children's records and books. She and Bonnie Sanders are the co-authors of THE CARE BEARS BOOKS AND RECORDS which went triple-platinum. Her show, THE TRAPPED FAMILY SINGERS (lyrics and book) with composer David Strickland, was an award winner at New York's prestigious Fringe Festival, where NYTHEATRE.COM’s critic said her work “reminded me of a modern Cole Porter.”. Another musical, MIAMI BEACH MONSTERS (lyrics), was presented at Theater under the Stars and had a NYC run at the Triad, and HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS (lyrics) was seen at the Pasadena Playhouse.  Her song (music and lyrics by Ellen M. Schwartz & Bonnie Sanders) “First Love Never Dies,” from the Canon film RAPPIN', was a BILLBOARD hit.   Ellen attended the B.M.I.-Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop for many years, and she attended New York University's Film School and The Juilliard School Of Music.  

FRED LANDAU (author of source material) is a member of BMI and an alumnus of the BMI Workshop. His work from the in-progress Across State Lines garnered him a Finalist slot in the Fall 2010 Fred Ebb Award competition for theater writing.  He wrote the book for The Last Starfighter (Storm Theatre; NYMF); and book and score for The Happiest of Times (Triangle Theater, and workshops at BMI, ASCAP and Circle Rep). In connection with a Last Starfighter workshop,  Fred was a featured speaker at Seattle’s Village Theatre on the subject of “Movies to Musicals.”  His YouTube parody work has been excerpted on CNN (American Morning, AC360, Situation Room)  In praising Fred’s work on The Happiest of Times at ASCAP, critic/theater historian Martin Gottfried said the work “was defined by the invention of its creators.  It sounded like itself and like nothing else… They invented their own language for musical theater and it had nothing to do with anything else that I’ve seen, really, in term of musical theater.” Fred graduated from Harvard Law School and received a masters in law from NYU Law School.  His work has been performed as part of the National Music Theater Network's concert series, and he’s also working on Viva Max!, an adaptation of the novel by Jim Lehrer.