Our Pages

Monday, March 29, 2010

Your WIP as a Musical?

Besides writing, when I am not working, I am often at one of our community theaters. I haven’t been on stage since I was in high school but the more time I am at the theater the more I am thinking about auditioning. Chances are I will never develop the nerve to do so because I am more comfortable backstage.

I will warn you now, musicals, and sometimes plays, do tend to creep into my blog posts because theater is just as much a part of me as writing. Last month my blog asked if Jo March (from Little Women) was right about travel. I used to costume (though I can’t sew) and have given it up. The last show I costumed was Man of La Mancha. Come on, how hard is it to costume a bunch of actors in rags? It isn’t like they have to be a tailor fit, which is good. Did I mention, I can’t sew.

Well, it turned out harder than I anticipated because I couldn’t get them dirty enough. Oh, the things we do for our characters. If I am not callusing my fingertips at the keyboard, I am in a garden plot after a fresh rain with costumes, or ash from the fireplace, or potting soil. It took me four separate dirtying rounds to get them dirty enough for the stage. Kind of like editing chapters, though some have taken me far more than four drafts to get it where I want it. Okay, let’s be honest. It took all of them a lot more than four drafts.

Most of my time at the theater is spent in makeup and hair. And, lately the majority of the shows I’ve worked on are period pieces. What I love about this is while researching the hair styles and makeup I also file the information away for future use in a novel. Though I pretty much stick with Georgian or Regency, I just may write a historical that takes place during WWII. Which brings me to the original point of this post.

In September I did makeup for South Pacific. This is a 1949 musical (music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and Joshua Logan). The story is taken from James A. Michener’s 1948 novel, Tales of the South Pacific. Do you think Michener was envisioning a musical when he wrote this Pulitzer Prize novel?

I’ve read blogs and articles where authors discuss possible movie rights for their novels, but I don’t think I’ve read where they have considered the story being adapted for a musical. So, thinking big, I tried to envision my characters breaking into song. Try as I might, it wasn’t working. There is potential for some of my heroines, but for my heroes – it is never happening. So, I guess my novels won’t make it to Broadway. I suppose if I want to see my show in lights I need to develop characters that have a song in their heart.

What about you? Have you ever envisioned your novel on the silver screen, as a stage play or entertaining musical? Try to picture your current novel or WIP as a musical. What is your first reaction?


  1. Amy, I love it when your theater work runs over into your novels. It makes them all the richer. I haven't seen many musicals, so it would be hard for me to picture that for my WIPS. I did have a steady rhythm of tambourine and darbouka in my head the entire time I was writing my Baghdad story, though. In the end, I'd assigned specific songs to each scene. It was more like a soundtrack than a musical. Great post!

  2. I haven't entertained thoughts of my work ever being a musical or on the big screen, but if I chose a musical, it would definitely be "My Fair Lady". I love my heroine's to step out of proper behavior every once in a while. It makes them so much more interesting.

  3. Amy, this is cracking me up. I tried to envision my current characters breaking into song and dance, and the picture in my head is HILARIOUS. I seriously doubt my hero would be a happy camper if he knew I was entertaining these thoughts. Heck, he isn't a happy camper anyway.

    But I do so love musicals. I've never been involved in the production aspects of one, but there is little I enjoy more than going to see one, or watching an old musical on TV/video. One of my all time favorites? Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I could watch that one every day and never get tired of it.

    P.S. I can't sew, either. I did manage to sew a stray button on once. That's about the extent of my sewing ability.

  4. Well I can definitely relate to the no sewing ability - or lack there of. I don't cook either so it's wonderful that I found a man who can and does very well lol. Nothing sexier to me than a man that cooks.

    As far as seeing my characters break out in song? Umm no. It'll never happen, not in this lifetime or the next lol. Not even my heroine. I just can't see my gun toting criminal suddenly breaking out into song unless it's jail house rock LOL.

    I've never been to the theater but am dying to go. I just have a feeling that I would completely enjoy it. After thirty-something years (shhh let's not speak of ages) I think it's high time I put going to the theater on my bucket list. Having my son at the age of 16 and working two jobs pretty much ever since I simply haven't had time to do what I wanted to. I think it's time I devoted some time to me though. =)

  5. So funny, Amy! I'm trying to imagine A Certain Wolfish Charm as a musical. It's not working for me. LOL

  6. Gail, a soundtrack would be cool to have playing in the background while reading a book. I haven't thought to do that before.

    Samantha, My Fair Lady is one of my favorite musicals.

    Catherine, I am glad I gave you a laugh. I love Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I came across it on TV about a month ago. Plopped myself in teh recliner and didn't get up until it was over.

    Melissa, I can see where it would be hard to envsion your characters singing. You need to treat yourself and get to the theater. Live performance is so much better than the screen, imo anyway.

    Lydia, If they can make a musical out of Frankenstein and Sweeny Todd, I don't see why wolves can't sing as well- though I do giggle at the thought.

  7. Okay, this is right up my alley, Amy! Man of La Mancha is one of my all-time favorites - I would play Aldonza for the rest of my life if I could - yes, I would even come out of musical theater retirement to do it! LOL!

    And can I just say I can't believe you just saw 7 Brides for the first time recently!! Catherine and I are kindred spirits - it's one of my faves! I watched it constantly growing up!

    AND MELISSA! If you can't see your heroine singing and dancing, you need to rent Calamity Jane asap! You'll love it!

    As for my own characters on the stage...sure! I think I would hire Wildhorn to do the score - sort of a modern/pop feel to the music, a la Scarlet Pimpernel.

    Great post! And sorry for replying to other posters...you know I can't resist on this topic! LOL!

  8. Jerrica,

    Always love your input. By the way, that wasn't the first time I saw Seven Brides. I just happened to come across it flipping channels and of course had to watch it again. Oh, and right after it was West Side Story. Needless to say, it was a lost evening. I've loved both of those musicals for longer than I can remember. I can't even remember the first time I saw them.

    I wish I could have seen you play Aldonza. Even though it wasn't her song, Impossible Dream will always be one of my favorites.

  9. So, I've got this skirt I need fixed. Can you help? LOL

    I'm not sure my first story would make a good musical. I dumped my heroine in a pond and had her horse bolt. But maybe Baz Luhrmann could do something with it. *giggle* Dream on, right?

  10. LOL, Jerrica, I love SBFSB so much that I used it to write a dance analysis paper for a class. That movie helped me to get my grade up from a B to an A!

  11. There is proof, Catherine, why arts should remain in the schools :).