Musical theatre workshops and productions

Our new show – SENTINELS. Wait till you see what this one is about.

Time to share some more information about our new show SENTINELS!

Here is the elevator pitch:

We’ve all heard about the all-male “secret society” at Yale.  What if there was an all-female secret society that makes its home in an abandoned dome room at a university in Milwaukee?  Since 1945, this group of brilliant, courageous college women have made it their goal to ensure women are at every table where important things happens. From their refuge overlooking the campus, they’ve been involved with such monumental events such as the first Black woman to star at the Met Opera, the election of the first female leader of a Muslim country, and the discovery of polio vaccine.  This is their story.  The Sentinels.

Do I have your attention now?  Well, here’s some more info: First, it is a play with music – not a musical.  That means that there will only be one song – at the end of the show.  Each scene takes place in a different decade, from 1945 – 1999.  So transition music will reflect the decade of the scene – but it will be a variation on the one song that comes at the end.  This is tricky, but we’ve hired a great NYC composer – Kim Sherman – and I am confident she will create music that you’ll love.

We held a workshop of the show in December, and I am proud and honored to say we found an amazing director – William Osetek.   Now, Bill and I go way back.  We attended Loyola University together back in the 1980’s.  Since then, he has gone on to much greater things – he just finished his tenure as Artistic Director at Drury Lane Oak Brook theatre.   What a catch, eh?

I don’t bring on a director till we have a solid first draft of the script, and our amazing writer, Marilyn Campbell-Lowe, wrote one hell of a first draft, so it was time to put it on its feet.   I also hired some very talented performers.  After the workshop, we received a lot of notes from the audience and the creative team.  The story features The Sentinels engaging the burning issues of each era, and it elicits strong audience responses.  So, we were left with a to do list, including lots of rewrites.

So, that’s where we are now.  Rewrites and reworkings.  We will have a table read of the new script at the end of March – using many of the performers from the workshop.   Hopefully, that will bring some clarity on our next step.

Stay tuned!!!

Larry Little

Blessed and Grateful – 2021 and What’s up in 2022!

This is the time of year to reflect and rejoice.  CPA Theatricals had a wonderful year working with some amazing artists (see the photo above.)  To recap, MILEY CHASE THE SCIENCE ACE is now being licensed by Stage Rights.  It is our fifth show to be published by a licensing company.  And this does not include the adaptations for zoom, social distancing or our show in the Spanish language!  Our shows have been performed all over the US and the world – including Japan, Singapore, Myanmar, Turkey, Canada, UK and Honduras.

The group of artists you see here includes directors, producers, writers, stage managers and – of course – performers.  Some of our professional family could not be in the picture, but I wanted to name them here.  Tina Reynolds, Ragan Hughes, James Zager, Lara Filip, Emily Lynn, Dylan MarcAurele and Jim Radloff – all have been a vital part of our success.

Next year brings us MILEY CHASE THE SCIENCE ACE – an animated tv series for children.  This has been a wild adventure, taking me into a whole new world of television and animation.  I am meeting new professionals weekly and learning things daily.  Animation takes time.  Building a team takes time. Interviewing tv directors, writers, producers – takes time.  So excited to see where this goes.

Our zoom show THE MOMENT – which has already been performed in high schools – is being expanded into a stage show for adults.  We have added mature characters, written more scenes and songs and, of course, re-written previous material.   Big shout out to James Zager for encouraging me to continue this project and for his continuing our collaboration into 2022.  An upcoming full reading of the stage version will take place in March and a full production in summer 2022 will give new life to this musical.

And we also have two new projects just in the gestation stage.  The first one is a super-secret new project that kind of fell into my lap – thanks to the amazing, creative folks I hang around with.  The other project is a new musical comedy featuring different styles of music and dance from decades past.  Wanna know more about them? Stay tuned.

Reflecting back I am grateful.  Looking forward I feel blessed.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to you and your family.

May the New Year bring singing and dancing and “All That Jazz.”

Larry Little

The Heroine’s Journey

As many of you know, CPA Theatricals creates and produces shows featuring strong female roles.  Recently, I was working with one of my story consultants and she told me about “The Heroine’s Journey.”  I always thought I was creating a female version of The Hero’s Journey (Joseph Campbell), but it turns out my stories are actually something different.  I write stories enacting The Heroine’s Journey.   So, I read this great book by Gail Carriger titled “The Heroine’s Journey: for writers, readers and fans of pop culture.”

Here are some things I learned about the differences between the Hero’s Journey and the Heroine’s Journey:

  • Unlike a classic hero, a heroine takes a companion along. In THE LAND OF FORGOTTEN TOYS Grace has Nikki share in her adventure.  Together they save Christmas.  Grace and Nikki complement each other and use each other’s strengths to move the plot along.
  • A Heroine is thrust into action, whereas the hero is usually viewed as reaching out for action. For the heroine, it is not a choice!  Again, in THE LAND OF FORGOTTEN TOYS – Grace is summoned by the Queen of the Northern Sky.  She does not choose the journey.  Similarly, when Grace, Nikki and Schmedrick meet the Icicle Giant – they are ambushed!
  • A Heroine exists in a web of family and relationships. Their family and friends help guide their decisions. This pattern could not be more different from the stereotypical hero – the loner out on his own!  In our show 57th NATIONAL MATHLETE SUM-IT Melissa finally overcomes her stage fright only after her teammates surround her and remind her of her brilliance.  They also work together to solve the final math problem that has been vexing Melissa for months.
  • The Heroine’s journey has an ending that is not all or nothing. Quite the contrary, the resolution  is about compromise, about doing what is possible to make  the community better. MILEY CHASE THE SCIENCE ACE is a great example of this.  Miley and Tyler end the show as friends.  Tyler gets the science price and Miley gets her special surprise.  Both end up happy and changed.

Another thing I learned is that a male can take the Heroine’s Journey as well.  It is not about the sex of the hero, it is about their journey, their choices, their companions and their perception.  Think Harry Potter – a great example of a male leading The Heroine’s Journey.

Imagine what we can create next!

Larry Little

Backstage at THE MOMENT

This blog is written by a guest contributor – Maddy Buchta.  Stay tuned for some great news about our show MILEY CHASE THE SCIENCE ACE.  Till next time – Larry Little, Producer

Theatre is known for its spectacle, and a part of that spectacle that people often overlook is a production’s marketing.  The first impression of a show is it’s marketing, whether it be posters, programs, or pages on a website, so it’s very important that the designs are engaging and cohesive with each other and the show they’re representing.  This is where someone like me comes in.  I served as the Media Manager for Milwaukee Metro Voices production of THE MOMENT where I was primarily responsible for social media marketing for the show.  I also was in a unique position as I was also an actor in the production, which I found to have advantages and disadvantages.  

Being an actor in the production meant I was directly involved in the behind-the-scenes process, which makes for some great social media content.  Much like the reason you probably are reading this article, I find that audiences enjoy seeing the process of a show from start to end.  This, however, can also be a disadvantage.  A challenge I had to face was balancing when to focus on social media and when I needed to be rehearsing.  As much as I tried to plan things out ahead of time, I still had to create most of the stories and posts in “the moment” (pun intended).  

Another advantage is investment.  In college, I often had to balance acting and marketing shows, and I found that allowed me to have a more in-depth understanding of the show’s themes, characters, and plot.  Someone on the inside is going to have a much better understanding of a show than someone on the outside.  I felt that I was able to more accurately promote THE MOMENT because I understood the characters and themes from a unique perspective.

As much as I love acting, I love the marketing side of a production just as much.  Theatre lives in “the moment” (pun intended again), which means once a performance is done, it won’t ever exist again.  Posters, programs, websites, and social media are tangible and serve as reminders of the amazing experience you had at the theatre.  I’m grateful for having the opportunity to make THE MOMENT last and I hope to continue creating content that showcases the magic of the theatre.

For my portfolios and project inquiries, you can reach me on my website maddybuchtadesigns.com or on Facebook or Instagram @maddybuchtadesigns.

Miley Chase – a TV Series

I had the word “science” written on my white board in front of my desk for months.  I knew I wanted to do a show about science and I knew I wanted the hero to be a 10 year old brown skinned girl.   But I did not know where to go from there.  So, I interviewed a bunch of 10 year old children with vivid imaginations and slowly a plot developed in my mind.  Then – MILEY CHASE THE SCIENCE ACE was born.  You can read more about it in my blog HERE.

Now, the musical has had a showcase production – click HERE to see the amazing photos – thanks to Tina Reynolds and Ovation Academy in Oak Park, Illinois.  The show has also been accepted to a New Works Festival at an Equity theatre in New Hampshire, to be held in September.  And, finally, there are two more full productions booked this fall.

But, that is not all. A few weeks ago, I received a call from an executive at a major television conglomerate.  She had read the script, and she encouraged me to develop MILEY CHASE THE SCIENCE ACE into an animated television series for family viewing.  What???

What do I do now?  I started calling/emailing/messaging folks that might be able to offer some advice.  I talked with agents, animators, television writers and, of course, a television entertainment attorney.  The bottom line?   CPA Theatricals has commissioned two seasoned writers in Los Angeles to write a TV Series pilot for an animated children’s show.  I am thrilled to be working with such successful writers and even more happy to learn that they are also television and film producers.  But, what about MILEY CHASE?

Well, in one of our first meetings the writers encouraged me not to duplicate the plot of the stage musical.  Instead, they urged me to come up with a new plot idea for the first episode.  While the dinosaurs are great for the musical – which would really make a wonderful short feature film – it is not really the story for a pilot, nor does it set up a “series” of episodes.  Then……more consulting…more asking of advice from children, my consultants, producers and BAM.  We had a brilliant idea.  Here it is:

First, a new story introduction: Miley Chase has a brilliant, eccentric grandma – called Gma – who is going into a retirement home.  Gma is a respected scientist, but she is also known for her crazy stories and imaginative mind.  As Miley and her mother are cleaning up Gma’s home, Miley discovers some of Gma’s notes and a journal about time travel.  Miley sneaks the journal back to her own room and creates a time machine.  BOOM – she and her pal, Tyler, go back in time.

And then, a new destination: they visit Cleopatra – not as an adult, but as a child like them! A great adventure ensues and Miley and Tyler return home changed and motivated.  As Miley reflects on the journey she ends the pilot saying to Tyler – “I wonder what Albert Einstein was like as a kid.”  Hence, the premise of the series.  Miley and Tyler will visit famous people in history when they are children.

Should be fun!

More soon.
Larry Little

THE MOMENT as a stage show.

The retreat started at 6pm on a Monday night.  Not the typical time retreats start, but this was no typical retreat.  The goal: develop our  virtual musical THE MOMENT into a stage show.  The participants: James Zager (dramaturg), Nicholas Reinhart (Assistant Producer) and myself.  We had 1 ½ days to find a way to make this work.

You see, THE MOMENT was designed as a “virtual” show – to be rehearsed over zoom, then have the actors record their sections (all monologues) on their phones in their own homes and then combine the recordings into a YouTube video.  Our pilot production of the virtual version was directed by the great NYC director, Kenny Ingram, and you can watch it HERE. But now that COVID restrictions are letting up, it is time to take this great show, add characters, create scenes – yes dialogue – and imagine how it could be staged.

Why are we having this retreat now?  Because we have scheduled THE MOMENT for a full staged reading in August!   Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin will host a reading of the show using a cast from Milwaukee and the suburbs.  I am thrilled that it will be directed by James Zager.

So, let me tell you about some of the new characters and stories.  You may recall that each scene/character experiences “the moment” when their life changes.

Radika is a Black woman, of a certain age, who is on her way to the final day of a yoga teacher training course.  She will finally get her spiritual name.  Along the way she encounters Tyshawn (who was already a character in the show) and they connect about their special days.  My favorite part about this scene is the first line that Radika says “The Black Fat Pussy Cat.”  Imagine where it will go from there.

Magda is a cleaning woman.  Her client invites her to have coffee before the day starts and Magda lets it all out.  Her daughter is spewing garbage on social media, her husband wants to quit his steady job to be a tattoo artist and she is dealing with a lot of anger and change in her home.  But, she has one vice.  One thing that gives her hope. One thing that makes her think life can be beautiful.  And that is….. well, I’m not going to spoil it for you.

Find out soon.

Thanks for hanging in there with me.

Larry Little

More about Miley

MILEY CHASE THE SCIENCE ACE is ready for action!  The songs are written (by the amazing Dylan MarcAurele) and recorded in a professional production studio.    We had a blast recording them, all while following safety precautions! You can check them out HERE. The script is done – Mike Ross outdid himself. It is hysterical, poignant and moves like the wind. The initial illustration artwork is done (after many revisions). Finally, our reading using 10 year old actors revealed some spots for adjustments – and they gave us some great ideas about Miley’s next adventure as well.

Let me tell you a little more about the show.  The leading character is Miley Chase.  She is a 6th grade science wiz, but no one knows it yet.  She has a natural ability to understand and analyze complex science issues.  She is a very hard worker and can concentrate under adverse environments.  But she has no friends.  She is lonely and does not relate well to others.  Over against Miley is Tyler.  Very popular, he is arrogant and jealous of Miley.

But most of all, in this blog I especially want to share how I came up with these names.

I created the name Miley based on two child actors I worked with on the Chicago production of THE LAND OF FORGOTTEN TOYS in December 2019.  Our evil elves were played by Maya and Lilly.  Even though they were evil on stage, they were very mature and sweet to work with. So, I combined their names to create Miley.   In the same way, I named Tyler because of a young actor named Kyler.  Kyler is a superstar.  He went on for two different roles in THE LAND OF FORGOTTEN TOYS and understudied another.  Imagine that!    And while I was thinking of these wonderful young actors, I remembered Joe as well —  a talented, cool and very funny young man.  So I named JoJo the T-Rex in MILEY CHASE after him.   I hope this new show honors these wonderful young people.

Last, I want to share with you something that an adult actress said to me as we were recording the show.  “I love Miley!” she said.  “I want to play her.  You know, this show could be TYA.” Hmmmmmmm.  What is TYA?  Theatre for Young Audiences.  TYA shows are adult actors performing a show for an audience full of children.  This is not something that I have experience in as a producer.  But as an actor, I made a lot of money performing in TYA shows.   Although MILEY was originally envisioned as a show performed by child actors, maybe a TYA version would work as well.  Our shows that CPA Theatricals develops are “family entertainment,” After all, where the audience is filled with adults AND children. So, this may just be an exciting alternative.

MILEY CHASE THE SCIENCE ACE is ready for the world to see.  Are you ready?

Larry Little

THE MOMENT – Video from First Scene

Kamala’s at the Podium Now

This is the first scene from THE MOMENT – a new musical for actors ages 15-22. The character is Camiya, a mixed race young woman, whose life is changed as she witnesses the reality that Kamala Harris will be the next Vice President of the United States.

The Moment – Pilot Production

The actors recorded their sections (all monologues) in their own homes. Those recordings were then combined, creating a virtual musical.

Directed and Choreographed by Kenny Ingram

Music by Dylan MarcAurele

Lyrics by Dylan MarcAurele, Deborah Berenson, Lara Filip, Marilyn Campbell-Lowe, Maria Merrin, Philip Dawkins, Aaron Holland

Book by Deborah Berenson, Lara Filip, Julie Soto, Marilyn Campbell-Lowe, Maria Merrin, Philip Dawkins, Abbas Salem, Aaron Holland, Daniel K. Isaac, Balkis Aldazabal, Nia Harvey, Jineara Hampton

Based on a concept by Larry Little

Associate Producer Timothy O’Connell

Assistant Producer Nicholas Reinhart