“From Bullets To Broadway, Anatomy of A Broadway Show” (FBTB) has had the wonderful task of breaking down the anatomy of Emergency The Musical written by Dr. Jeff and Jacob Foy. “Un-Block The Music” is part of WFYL 1180 AM’s radio show, hosted by Sgt. Dan McCaughan. While we talk about the mechanics of creating a musical, the latest episode which aired this past Saturday, is a little different; we talk of the human spirit as well.
Emergency addresses the issues surrounding society, aka. mental illness and loneliness. Bobby is a character that Jeff has felt very strongly about right from the beginning. “Like many people, he needs help and human attention and doesn’t know how to ask for it.” On the surface the show is about two men vying for the same job at a hospital, but as Jacob says, “we never set out to write about a doctor getting a job.” Jeff says he tries to make clear to medical students all of the time, that there are different kinds of patients, those that need medical attention to save their lives, and others that need attention to save their spirit; human attention.
That segues to a topic “Un-Block The Music” wants to talk about every chance I get; how young people become well-rounded adults. It’s a complicated topic in even the best of times, but I need to strongly suggest that life is not all about math, science and test scores! I think we have taken that lesson during this pandemic.
Arts in the school aids us all in becoming human. Jacob said, “Arts education has given me a place to explore interests that aren’t recorded by academics.” If you want to explore math or science there are many many courses you can take; not true about the arts. For many, the arts is a way to learn academics as well as to learn how to be human in a non-traditional way. “The teachers that teach art are different. They don’t have the same agenda, and they create welcoming atmospheres which is so incredibly valuable. These settings force you to work with other people, otherwise you can’t survive.” Like in society as a whole, humans need to interact to survive.
Jacob points to a motivational theory in psychology. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs comprises a five-tier model of human needs; physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. The Foys explore this theory with Emergency’s character of Bobby who goes to the hospital most every day with unmeasurable physical symptoms, but very resounding emotional symptoms! He is on the brink and cast aside until something truly traumatic happens.
How do composers and song writers get these incredible important topics and emotions to the stage? Are these music writing techniques something you can learn in school? Jacob said, “Music theory is what you want to learn the least, but will help you the most. You will understand music on a whole new level and it will enhance your ability to write and perform. Music theory makes it easier.” On the radio show, Jacob spoke about Emergency’s song “Without Cracks”. He spoke about how he uses the scales and notes to create a hopeful song rather than just a sad song. Dan thought that very important for writing a show. No one wants to leave the theater feeling sad, he said. “Un-Block The Music” thought about one of the saddest shows every written Les Miserables. Even that musical ends with “Do You Hear The People Sing,” a song of promise!
In this article, “Un-Block The Music” has thrown a bunch of topics at you. If you want to know more, tune into the rerun of FBTB on Saturday, November 28 at noon on WFYL 1180 AM radio. Also, I encourage you to put some questions together to send to all of us. Perhaps these questions can lead to future segments on the radio or on this blog. There is so much to explore as the world of music continuously changes. You can email questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or right to Sgt. Dan at email@example.com. If he reads your question on the air, you will receive an Emergency t-shirt.
If you have missed any of the past episodes of From Bullets To Broadway, it’s not too late to hear them. Go to https://www.1180wfyl.com/ and hit “podcasts.” Also, to listen to other songs from Emergency, go to: https://www.emergencymusical.com/the-music.