How much could you advance your career in 2019 by surrounding yourself with other like-minded theater professionals all working to achieve their goals? That is the question Tony-Winning Broadway Producer Ken Davenport (“Kinky Boots,” “Once On This Island”) poses on his blog. The answer to the question is A LOT! Just ask father/son musical writing team Jeff and Jacob Foy who, after winning a competition through Ken’s Inner Circle, are the recipients of a $10 K grant for their show “Emergency”. “Un-Block The Music”, spoke with the Foys recently, and is excited to watch and to share the journey this show will go through as it makes its way from Indiana to New York this year.
Dad, Jeff Foy, tells the story. Up until the age of 14, Jacob (now a sophomore at Indiana University), played baseball and basketball. Then, suddenly it seemed, he didn’t want to play sports anymore, but instead wanted to join show choir! Since Jacob was never one to sing or dance around the house, it was somewhat of a shock to his family, but not totally beyond question. “Music has been big in my family. I was in show choir. My sister was a show choir director. So…we thought…okay cool. And, he just loved it. Then, Jacob said, ‘I think I want to start playing the piano. So, he taught himself how to play!”
Jacob brought some of Jeff’s dreams to the forefront as well with his new found love of music. As a “real-life” Emergency Room Doctor, Jeff always enjoyed writing lyrics in his not so spare time, but he never played a musical instrument. As a lover of theater, “I thought so many times that the emergency room would be a great setting for a musical. I knew I couldn’t actually write a musical because I couldn’t write music! Then, as Jacob became more proficient on piano, the idea just seemed to be one that made sense. So, one night, when Jacob was 16 years old, I went into his room and said ‘I have this crazy idea. What do you think about writing a musical?’ He said, ‘let’s do it!’”
The next night, Jacob got his notebook and the pair started coming up with what the story would be. Ultimately, that story follows Justin Marks who has just graduated from med school. Justin is very good at the book work, but he has trouble with interpersonal connections. As a result, after graduation, he has difficulty securing a hospital spot for his internship and residency. “This show takes place over one night. The hospital calls Justin and one other person into the ER to see how they are on their feet; to see which doctor they want for their one spot. Justin has one night to prove himself. An emergency room might not be relatable to everyone. People may be interested in it, but have not had the personal experience from the working side. However, the common theme of connections and human interaction is something we all can relate to,” Jeff explained.
Jeff and Jacob had big dreams and in less than a year finished the first draft of the show with about 20 songs. “We collaborate, but Dad writes the lyrics more so than I do, and I write all the music.” When they finished the draft, a music demo was recorded with new home equipment in a closet. Not uncommon…great acoustics!!! Anyway, “we didn’t know if it was any good. Then, Dad discovered Ken Davenport online and he found out that we could do a script coverage with him.” Since “Un-Block The Music” has never written a script, the question was…what’s that? Script coverage is a term for the analysis and grading of scripts. Ah…so, the duo reached out and got an appointment. “It wasn’t until my freshman year in college that we actually got the script coverage,” Jacob explained.
Flash forward, Ken thought what they had was really good. “That gave us the confidence that maybe we could really do something with this. He gave us ideas, and we took feedback from that session and reworked it. We rewrote and had many readings and readings and readings, and then rewrote it more,” Jeff said. Finally, they got to the point it needed to be seen up on a stage. This last September, Jacob produced a full production with all college students.
“We had auditions on August 20 and the show premiered September 21,” Jacob said. “We had 36 people come out to audition, and we put 18 in the show. I also had a director, a stage manager, a costume designer and a lighting designer, all undergraduate students. There were rehearsals every night from 6-11p.m. I was often there later with the creative team to get call times and schedules up.”
The result? People loved it. “We had to turn people away. It was really encouraging,” according to Jeff.
In the meantime, Jeff and Jacob are part of Ken Davenport’s Inner Circle which is a way to create connections. Each quarter Inner Circle members gather in New York City for a weekend of training sessions and to hear top industry leaders talk about various aspects of the business. Participants are able to spend time speaking with VIP guest speakers in a Q&A session, as well as to talk with them individually after the session. This past November, seven Inner Circle members were chosen to be part of a contest. Video and essays were provided by each of the contestants. People voted online. “Emergency” won and the Foys were awarded a $10K investment in their show.
“I was able to share that link which was a great marketing tool to get support from the theater and the non-theater community,” says Jacob. And, this May, the show will be performed at a medical conference in Arizona.” Hopefully, that will encourage people to invest in the show.
The Foys’ journey continues. “Un-Block The Music” will follow “Emergency” as it makes its way to the professional stage, with ME in the audience. What I loved about Jeff and Jacob may be summed up in their humble approach. “We still have that original notebook and still take notes in it when we have our meetings with Ken.” Keep a watch on their website https://www.emergencymusical.com and AND THIS BLOG!!!
For more information on the Inner Circle, and to apply for membership, go to