Picture: Eric Webb
If you were listening to WYFL’s From Bullets to Broadway Anatomy of A Broadway Show, featuring Emergency The Musical on Saturday, July 11, you heard the show start off with the song Family Affair, one of my favorite songs from the show (www.1180wfyl.com). Does “Un-Block The Music” say that about every song? LOL… You will say it too when you listen to all of the songs. Anyway, Family Affair is jazzy, not like anything else in the show. Radio Host Dan McCaughan says it has the Chicago vibe, but I feel Pink Panther…that sort of “something’s up,” slithering, sneaky character. The song is sung by the antagonist Kyle and his aunt, the nurse in charge. It’s Kyle’s character establishment song which, I learned, tells us who the character is and why he is in the show. BTW…that’s the writer, Jacob Foy, singing along with Amanda Fawell. Check it out on the website https://www.emergencymusical.com/the-music.
If you have been following the adventures of Jeff and Jacob Foy, you know that their journey to NYC theater started in Jacob’s room in Indiana, where this father and son team decided to write a musical. They had a lot of chutzpah because when they finished their draft, they contacted Davenport Theatricals (whose founder is Tony-winner producer Ken Davenport), and it was there they met Dramaturg, Eric Webb, this weeks’ Bullets guest. On the show, Eric talked about what it means to be a dramaturg, and you heard The Foys talk about how much it helped their show to work with him. “Un-Block The Music” continued the conversation off-air.
My first question was, “when it is the right time in the show writing process to hire a dramaturg?” Eric said, “maybe after your second or third draft. The right time is at a point when you need another set of objective eyes; maybe you are not fully satisfied with the piece. Maybe you have questions and are not sure how to answer them. “It’s terrifying putting your baby out there!”
Jeff said, that was “Especially true for us. There was so much uncertainty on our part. We really didn’t know anything about show writing when we started.”
While a dramaturg handles the dialog for a play, they also have to look at the songs in a musical. “The songs do the heavy lifting in a musical,” Eric said. “All of the pivotal moments are tied to a song.” Eric won’t say how many songs you need, but he might suggest more shorter songs or fewer longer songs. “It’s a case by case basis.”
“Originally, we were afraid to make a lot of changes,” said Jeff. “But, after working with Eric, we realized we could make changes, and it would make it better than what we had.”
Jacob said, “you have to be able to step out of yourself and be as objective as possible.” A dramaturg doesn’t tell you what to do. “It’s helping educate people about the process; teaching them how they can look at things, and that will be beneficial for your entire career,” according to Eric.
Jacob says that’s exactly what happened. “After having met with Eric for Emergency, we started writing our second show, One Night Only, and we had a whole bunch of ideas pop up right away.” ( One Night Only had been scheduled to open off-Broadway this summer, but due to CO-VID 19 it has been rescheduled and will open in July 2021 ( https://www.onenightonlythemusical.com/)
Eric likened the job of dramaturg to that of an editor. “Some people take every word I say as scripture, while there are others that fight me tooth and nail. Know that what you create will always be there. Something you cut from one project might be good for something else you write.” Just look at Family Affair.
Jeff said, the song wasn’t in the original version of Emergency. It was debuted at the New York Theater Festival’s Summerfest last summer. Family Affair was written for another project completely. “Jacob played it for me. I just loved it. It was unlike anything else we had. I knew it had to be Kyle’s song. I immediately started thinking of different lyrics.”
(Picture…Jacob Foy in home studio)
Today, Emergency The Musical is “even more than we could have hoped for.” Jacob said all of the original elements are still there, but the antagonist’s conflicts are now on multiple levels rather than just on one level. And, “it’s a much richer story for it,” said Eric.
Now go, listen to the song if you haven’t heard it. And, if you missed the episode of From Bullets to Broadway, it will be re-run this Saturday July 18 at noon. If you need to catch up with episodes further back, go to (www.BroadwayBullets.com.)
For “Un-Block The Music’s” interview with Ken Davenport, go to: to: https://unblockthemusic.blog/2020/06/01/ken-davenport-points-to-tools-that-helped-the-foys-create-2-shows-for-the-new-york-stage-rebroadcast-of-bullets-to-broadway-this-saturday-june-6th/