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Musical theatre workshops and productions

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





The Moment – it happens and everything changes!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from CPA Theatricals!

We have been very busy here, and I am excited to announce that we have created a new zoom musical.  This musical is intended for performance by actors ages 15-20.  The title is  –  THE MOMENT – each scene focuses on a moment in each character’s life when everything changes.    We all have these moments.  As I look back over my life, I can name about 5 times when something happened and BAM – my life was never the same.  So that is the concept for this show.

I am so proud to say that we collaborated with 11 writers from all of the US to create this new show.  Here they are!

Right now, we are in rehearsal of our pilot production of THE MOMENT, using actors from all over the country.  (After all, they are rehearsing in their homes, and will videotape their polished performances.)  The show is helmed by my longtime friend, Kenny Ingram.  Kenny is known throughout the world as a director/choreographer and as a performer.   It is an honor to be able to work with him during these unprecedented times.  And the performers in the show – WOW.  Some with Broadway credits, many with dozens of shows under their belts (a huge accomplishment for young performers!) and all excited and very talented.

Now, here is something else.  If 2020 made us pivot – it also took us out of our comfort zone and THE MOMENT did just that for me.  You have heard me say many times that I produce “Family Entertainment!” Well, THE MOMENT is different.  It is edgy, gritty.  It deals with issues that young people today are struggling with.  All this – but with an element of joy and hope.  Here are some of the characters in the show and the issues their “moment.”

Camiya – 15, a mixed race female, watches Kamala Harris acknowledge her win as VP- elect.  As she watches Kamala she sees herself and so many possibilities ahead.

Fatima – 17, a Muslim-American, receives a letter from a college she has applied to.  It is her last chance to attend university.  Otherwise she will have to stay at home and work in her family’s restaurant.

Kyle, 15, male, is home alone for the first time.  He uses the opportunity to do the one thing he’s been dreaming about for years: trying on his mother’s heels. This moment sets off something in him: he feels liberated and alive.

Tyshawn, 15, black male, faces the challenge of going to an all-white prep school.  Everything is new – including the stuffy uniform which he is about to try on.

These are just a taste of the show.   Right now, I am feeling so blessed and grateful to be able to tell these stories.

Wishing you and your families prosperity, peace, joy and happiness in 2021!

Larry Little
Producer





What are the GIRLHOOD composers up to now?

Hi,

We’ve always known that we’re blessed by the talented composers and writers who work on our shows.  But lately there’s been a flurry of confirmation about that.  Last week I learned that Dylan MarcAurele, a composer and musical supervisor for GIRLHOOD has been named a 2020-21 Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellow.  Thinking about that, I decided to check in with other composing team members from GIRLHOOD and see what was happening in their lives.  Here is a recap of a few:

Andy Roninson won the very prestigious 2019 Jonathan Larson Grant recipient.  He was also a 2019-2020 Dramatists Guild Fund Fellow.

Jan Roper received the L.A. Scenie Award for Musical Director of the Year for 2019-2020. She also won the 2020 “Raise Your Voice” Playwright Competition for a new work called “América Tropical”.

Aaron Latina signed a 6-picture deal to score all their films for a production company in Atlanta.

Lara Filip started a new production company to house her touring kid’s shows and the “Walking Plays” that she produces at Morton Arboretum and beyond.

Alex Petti has been accepted into the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre workshop as a composer and has continued to develop his upcoming projects, “The Trouble With Dead Boyfriends” and “Alex Petti And The Nervous Wrecks Present: The Hometown Tour.”

Joe Stevens and Keaton Wooden had a reading with Tony-Winner Michael Mayer in February, and Keaton is co-writing a digital musical with Grayson Selby and Jack Newell, head of the Harold Ramis Second City Film School.

MARILYN CAMPBELL-LOWE, is co-authoring w/Maya Friedler, a book entitled “Opening Doors: Early Chicago Women Activists (1950-1970);” and co-adapting with Paul Oakley Stovall, a new musical based on, Segu, by Maryse Conde.

Joan Bauer’s Newberry-awarded best-selling novel HOPE WAS HERE film adaptation is currently in early stages of development with exciting news to be officially announced soon.  Also, her new novel for young people “Raising Lumie” was published in June and has received great reviews.

Oh, and one more item about Dylan MarcAurele. He was also on TV. His musical theater parody Instagram page @RhonyMusical got some major attention. As a result, he was recently featured on national television for Bravo’s 200th episode of The Real Housewives of New York City.

Amazing, ha?   I am thrilled to be able to say I worked with all of them.

Larry Little
Producer

 





When in doubt…Pivot!

That is the new word these days.  COVID has ravaged practically all areas of entertainment.  It certainly has devastated the whole world of live theatre.    It took months for the full reality of the situation to become clear, certainly for me it did.  My friend West Hyler just posted this in Facebook:

“Obstacles are opportunities for invention”

This is so true.  He has just started a new company – all virtual – Artistic Stamp. His company  will produce a season of interactive experiences that take audience members on unique journeys via handwritten correspondence.  Now, that is a nice pivot.

Pivot – that is what I have been trying to do over the last four months, trying to move CPA Theatricals forward in this new situation.  First, we created THE MYSTERY OF CUSTODIA – a new online, virtual musical for school-aged actors.  After several pilot productions we released it to the public and WOW – it became a big hit!  I’ve sent out almost 800 perusal copies and licenses are coming in every day!

Then, you may recall, we adapted THE LAND OF FORGOTTEN TOYS – virtual edition – for socially distanced staging.  This was not easy – we had to put our director hats on and remove all touching, hugging and handling things and replace them with smiles, air kisses and tossing!  Again, I released it to the public.  And – BAM – another hit.   I have sent out almost 300 perusal copies and the licenses are starting to come in.

But what about plays?  Most schools are struggling financially now, and plays are sometimes less expensive to mount.  So why not create a play for the teachers with non-singers.  Well, we created THE MYSTERY OF CUSTODIA – THE PLAY in response to that need.  Again – hundreds of requests for perusals and sales starting to come in.

I guess you can see why I have not kept up with my blog.  So, why am I sharing this now?   Because , now, after pushing all these initiatives forward, I actually have a learning to share with you!  I was late to the game.  I was reluctant to pivot.  I went kicking and screaming into this.  But in the end,  I learned a valuable lesson.  Pivot.  When all hope seems lost – pivot.  Talk with colleagues, friends and mentors.  Brainstorm as much as possible and … say YES to all opportunities.

Stay safe and be well.
Larry Little
Producer





EDTA releases guide for reopening of school theatre programs!

There is a wonderful organization that I belong to, the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA.)  It is an international non-profit group that shares information with teachers, directors and others about many aspects of the theatre for school aged actors, directors, musicians, dancers, etc.

They run an annual festival that attracts thousands of participants.  At the festival classes are held, shows are performed, and workshops are given.  This year, of course, the festival was presented online.  But it was just as rich and valuable.  Maybe even more!

Many theatre teachers are struggling with how to create theatre during these difficult, crazy times.  In addition to the ideas shared in the online festival he EdTA has also put out a full brochure sharing information about how teachers and students can safely navigate for the upcoming school year.  Here are some creative responses to the situation:

Performance related:

  1. Students should rehearse and perform socially distant while wearing face shields.
  2. Whenever possible, a condensed 45-70 minute version of the show should be performed with no intermission.
  3. Singers in a pit will be in cubicles or face shields in the pit and will sing all the songs to performance tracks.
  4. Dances will be choreographed socially distant and with imagined partners, not live bodies, wearing masks.

Venue Related:

  1. Perform on stage with no audience and live stream the show in real time to every classroom, home or other place.
  2. Do a video-recording of the show in sections, edit the sections together and schedule a streaming performance at a later date.
  3. Setup an outdoor venue in a large parking lot and perform the show as a Drive-In.

I have had several teachers asking if I could create a show that could be rehearsed on their stage using the precautions described above and then videotaped for an audience.  Another challenge!  So, I decided to adapt THE LAND OF FORGOTTEN TOYS just for this purpose.

We were able to cut the show to 45 minutes, adjust the script so that there is no touching (social distance staging can be used).  And we revised the music so that almost all of the songs are solos! So, I am thrilled to announce THE LAND OF FORGOTTEN TOYS  – virtual version! A Christmas family musical to help us remember that we are not alone, that we all feel like a misfit until we find our place in the world, and that we can all do important things right where we are!

Larry Little
Producer





Helpless, Satisfied and a Football Game?

I have a friend from Milwaukee, a mature, theatre-going woman, who just loves HAMILTON.  Before she saw the show live in Chicago, she downloaded and printed the lyrics to the show. She wanted to be familiar with the story before she saw the show.  She was not too familiar with hip hop music, so she did not want to miss anything. After she saw the show she exclaimed “Genius!”

Well, that is what I will say about the movie version of HAMILTON that was just released by Disneyplus.   As I watched the magnificent camera work, I was reminded of the “genius” of the show.  Not only the lyrics and music (every Founding Father gets their own style of music??  Come ON!!) but the staging.  The seamless transition between HELPLESS and SATISFIED is breathtaking.  It was a wonderful treat for the July 4th holiday weekend.

But, I also want to share another treat that happened.  As we all are aware, we are a country in transition.  A country deeply divided.  A country ravaged by a deadly, new virus.  A country begging for peace and compassion.

We live in a high rise on Lake Michigan.  We have a beautiful beach with a large park right in front of our condo, so I try to walk in that park several times a day.  Yesterday, on July 4, the park was busy.  While most folks were careful to keep some distance, they were still enjoying the holiday. There were people swimming, sunbathing, reading, doing yoga and playing sports.  A group of young adults were playing tag football.

This is quite common, but something struck me about this group.  The players were diverse – both  women and men playing.  And it was very culturally diverse: Black, white, Hispanic, Asian. There was even a woman in a hijab playing.  It struck me as so special!  So wonderful!  So inclusive!

They were laughing and having a great time.  Whether they knew how special that game was – I don’t know.  But, I do know that it was special to me.  It was a great example of what we as a country, a great example of what we – who create theatre – try to do.   It was an image of what the founders of our country sought, an embodiment of what the words and music of HAMILTON proclaim, a mirror of what the gloriously diverse cast of HAMILTON manifests in every performance.

Magic on the stage!  And magic in the park!

Stay well and be safe.

Larry Little
Producer