Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Eigg the Musical in pictures

The intersection between music, dance and storytelling is magical. I'll never forget when the show's director contacted me about accompanying a small group of actors and playing accordion for the show Eigg the Musical. It was set around the events of a Scottish ceilidh dance festival. They wanted to focus on just a few highland tales and traditional Scottish music would provide the authentic atmosphere they were after. Fast forward through a pandemic, learning to play Scottish Cielidh music on an accordion, a lot of give and take between everyone and it all started to come together. We delivered nine shows over the course of two weeks and many of them were sold out. Use the link below to look over the scrapbook we put together. It includes pictures that go all the way back to the beginning of the project.
2023 Eigg the Musical Scrapbook
2023 Eigg the Musical Scapbook
Everyone enjoyed the show and perhaps our small troupe from Denver most of all. Many from the group had never been out of the country before, but everyone was enthusiastic for the experience; after all, the Edinburgh theatre festival is the largest performing arts festival on the planet. Creating a new Musical takes a long time and if you strive for excellence you'll need to find people who know their craft and work well with other people. We were a tight knit group and we all understood that there is much more that we can do together than we could ever do on our own. Music theatre is ephemeral by nature, but it's nice to be able to look back at all the milestones you pass when creating a new musical theatre show.

Monday, August 21, 2023

Performance reviews of Eigg the Musical in Edinburgh Scotland

The reviews are out on Eigg the Musical:

***** 5 STARS *****

"This show has great potential to be something big. It tells an important story and is expertly performed. It is an ultimate show of the power of community, telling an important story of Scotland's history. Could this be Scotland’s next Sunshine on Leith?"
Abi Whitefield - The Scots Reviewer - August 14, 2023

Print the PDF - Read the complete review

"I heartily agree with the reviewer!" Justin Hay - Toronto, Canada

"The Hebridean story of the Eigg community and hopes of creating a Gaelic utopia are brilliantly told and wonderfully performed. Well worth the ticket."
Posted in Edinburgh Inquirer - August 14, 2023

"Eigg the Musical: Before we even talk about how great this show is, I just have to mention that the cast is full of wonderful people. So down to earth and so talented! The show itself is AMAZING. The music is awesome, the story is lovely, and it’s chock full of humor, love, and strength. If you want to see a wonderful musical based on a true story, this is the one!" 
Dan Lentell - Get Your Coats OnEdFestivals 2023 - Edinburgh, Scotland
Broadway World selected Eigg the Musical as a top ten show you really don't want to miss at this year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Eigg show friends from Ayr Scotland
"Eigg the musical was fabulous with great storytelling of the history of that little island.Joyce Staniard Bell - Ayr, Scotland 

"We really enjoyed it! There were some great singers in the cast, it's a great story about the community buy out of Eigg.Wendy Weatherby - Edinburgh, Scotland."

"Brilliant! thank you for bringing this show to the festival.Ian MacGowan - Aberdeen, Scotland"

"It’s really good and entertaining! You should tour it around the Highlands and Islands! I met Keith Schelenburg in the 80s. I worked for the Council. He sent his little plane to fly me from Fort William. The pilot was Patrick Burns. We flew from Camisky. He had really ambitious ideas for the island.Ken Johnston - Highlands, Scotland"

"What a refreshing, hilarious and beautifully written musical." David Hewitson - Glasgow, Scotland

"Never a dull moment, we really enjoyed your show.Sandy Byrne - Carnwath, Scotland"

"Really enjoyed watching your show....loved the music and choreography....and hats off to Lord Skillington for wearing that Aran jumper in such a warm space!"  Stewart Furini - East Sussex, England

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Rehearsing Scottish Ceilidh music for Eigg the Musical

Accompanying a Ceilidh dance is so much fun! Here's a couple 360° videos of the cast of Eigg the Musical working through some ceilidh dance steps with our local Scottish dance experts. The tunesets are pretty traditioanal, we start with "Miss McLeods Reel", then transition to "Willajford" and briefly hit "The High Road to Linton. What a great tuneset!

360° video of Eigg troupe dancing to Miss McLeods Reel

Next, the troupe wanders into some waltz moves and the band joins in with "When Irish Eye Are Smiling". What a memorable moment! Man oh man, that was a fun night!

360° video Eigg troupe dancing to When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Looking for an accompanist to tweak your favorite song?

We get asked if we can supply standard music theater rehearsal tracks for music theatre works all the time, but what if you're looking for a custom arrangement? It's really not that uncommon for a singer to transpose a song up or down a few keys or adjust tempo markings for an audition. Directors are always looking to explore creative alternatives if the music calls for it.

2018 WYSIWYG Cast
Director reviewing vocal parts with performers
That's where can help! We are a group of performing arts professionals eager to help you get the most out of on your music theater rehearsal music and we can connect with you remotely using the latest technology and collaboration tools too.

Friday, November 4, 2022

I want to be a professional accompanist?

We hear this a lot! So here's what you can expect. Accompanists play instruments like a keyboard or guitar and support vocalists, dancers, and theater performers. Accompanists wear a lot of different hats; for example, they may accompany the church choir as pianists and/or accompany guest performers for a segments for a television show. A collaborative pianist typically performs with vocalists and dancers in a rehearsal setting. Lots of accompanists double as teachers or educators and are capable of teaching and supporting a student's performance while playing as well.

Accompanist at a dance rehearsal

Here's what they don't tell you! Accompanists must respond quickly to performance elements such as tempo, key changes, phrasing, and interpretation, often while collaborating with a singer for the first time and often in high-pressure settings like competitions and/or auditions.  Most accompanists work on a different schedule every week, but there are full-time positions at music schools have more consistency, but beware rehearsals and performances are often scheduled at night and on weekends.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

The world is your oyster

Reaching expert accompanists of different music genres, styles and traditions has become so much easier over the last 25 years. A simple Google search on the phrase "Bandoneon instructor in Rio de Janeiro" or "Irish tin whistle teacher in Dublin" will give you pages of real contacts who are hungry to help you learn their craft. It's always intimidating to embrace new technology at first, but over time it's become hard to ignore the new paradigm. We've learned that the terminology and functionality of teleconferencing products is really the same and there are lots of tools to choose from; Zoom, Google Meet and Skype are probably the most widely known though. Skype (owned by Microsoft) has been around the longest and it is still a great choice for professional accompanists.
April Alsup discusses Scottish Cèilidh Music with Sandy Brechin from Edinburgh Scotland
Most accompanists will explore the underlying characteristics of different music genres, traditions and styles and often have to reach out to resources from various corners of the world to better understand a particular musical pedagogy. Here's an example: April Alsup, a Denver accordionist and music theater composer, was conducting research for a new musical theater work about a small island in the Hebrides and wanted to make sure to capture the nuances of Scottish Cèilidh music. An internet search, an eMail and Viola... she's able to setup regular meetings with a professional Cèilidh accordion player from Edinburgh Scotland and get all sorts of tips and tricks for Cèilidh dance accompaniment.

Friday, June 10, 2022

Accompanist for Scottish Cèilidh dancing

We get all sorts of accompanist requests over the course of a year and we can usually find someone who can fit right in. Most of our inquiries are for an expert piano accompanist for auditioning actors for an upcoming music theater work. We've worked with a lot of different theaters in and around the Denver metropolitan area. Sometimes the requests that come in are for a last minute substitutions for an instrumentalist who may have become ill or for a church service when the staff organist, singer or music director has a vacation planned or some other conflict.

Cèilidh Dance Training

In any case, we get some unusal requests from time-to-time too; for example, we recently heard from a Denver area creative team looking to identify someone familiar with Scottish Cèilidh dancing. So we reached out to several area Scottish dance organizations and were able to find a professional Scottish dance team living in Colorado who were involved with Cèilidh dancing in Scotland. We had a Skype call with our accordion resource to discuss the specifics and penciled in a date to all get together. Everyone was eager to participate and learn more about the Scottish dances and the culture behind them too. We played tune sets for a Gay Gordon, a Reel and a Jig and the client was thrilled. It was so much fun! 🎭