Monday, November 19, 2018

Pure imagination


The release of The Enchanted Bookshop--The Musical is still several months off, but progress is being made. Composer Stephen Murray tells me he has written 11 songs and is currently preparing the piano and vocal scores.

And yet some people just can't wait. Exhibit A: This Ontario production of The Enchanted Bookshop. Eleanor Drury Children's Theatre has taken the published script of the play and added two songs, giving the young actors an opportunity to show off their singing and dancing skills.

I think that's great. I'm always happy to see theatre companies tweak my scripts by adding an occasional song or character.

I was even happier to see that one of the songs they added is my favorite song from one of my favorite movies of all time, 1971's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (forget Johnny Depp, Gene Wilder will always be the Candy Man to me).

No, not "Cheer Up, Charlie". The song they added is that ode to creativity and the power of the mind, "Pure Imagination". What better song for a coterie of characters who depend on imagination to give them life?

Well, maybe the 11 songs specially composed for the script by Mr. Murray. They're coming, and you're going to love them. I promise!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

An enchanted trailer

I'm really loving this trailer that the students at a Alabama high school put together for this weekend's performance of The Enchanted Bookshop. Between the lush music, dynamic camerawork and spooky voiceover, it's extremely well-done. In fact, it's so spooky it almost makes the show look like a Harry Potter movie.

Break legs, everyone!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Costume ideas for that book lover in you

Need some last minute costume ideas for Halloween (or any time, really)? In honor of their upcoming auditions for The Enchanted Bookshop, Encore Stage & Studio in Alexandria, VA offers some literary suggestions from their theatrical past.

Me? I'll be going as one of my favorite literary characters.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Reading for dollars (and much much more!)

Schools and theater companies across the country have gotten creative using The Enchanted Bookshop to encourage kids to read. And now our neighbor to the north is getting in on the act.

Eleanor Drury Children's Theatre of Thunder Bay, Ontario is launching a read-a-thon for students in this vibrant city on the shores of Lake Superior. From October 22 to November 16, participants are asked to log all books they read on this online form, and at the end of the contest, the most active readers will win up $50 cash (that'll buy a lot of books!) and four tickets to the show.

I'm especially glad that they're using this contest to shine a light on local authors. I used to be heavily involved with the Colorado children's book writer community and I know that a lot of those authors struggled to get the word out about their books, books that were just as compelling, entertaining and just plain fun as any title on the bestseller list.

The best part about this contest? Everybody wins. Even those who don't take home the big prize will discover books they wouldn't have known about otherwise. And that's worth more than any $50 check.

Good luck, everybody! And if you need some reading suggestions, check out these books favored by the actors in the show:

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Show Me State Bookshop shows how it's done

I just came across this performance of The Enchanted Bookshop by South Valley Middle School in Liberty, MO. I've posted several recordings of this play over the last year, but I wanted to make a special mention of this one because the cast does an especially good job bringing out the humor in the script.

You've got to go big with these characters, and these kids do. The result? Some of the biggest laughs I've heard for this show.

Nice job, everybody!

Friday, October 5, 2018

The Enchanted Bookshop sings!

Growing up in the small town of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, I didn't get much of a chance to see Broadway shows or national touring productions. But the town did have a movie theater, and three times a year, the manager closed the curtain over the screen, removed the first few rows of seats and built out the stage so that the local community theater could put on a show.

The community theater produced a ton of plays over the years, but it was the musicals I loved the most. Fiddler on the Roof. MameCamelot. They were all so big and full of life. And I remember thinking, even then, that those shows were better than anything I'd seen on that movie screen behind them.

Which is all just a roundabout way of telling you how excited I am that Pioneer Drama Service has decided to turn The Enchanted Bookshop into a musical.

I've always wanted to write a musical. There's just one small problem. I don't know the first thing about writing music.

But Stephen Murray does. He's the Massachusetts composer who Pioneer paired me up with. Stephen has decades of experience writing musicals, and his songs have a fun, bouncy quality that make them perfect for the school market. I can't wait to see what he comes up with for The Enchanted Bookshop.

No word yet on when the musical will be released, but Stephen is working on the score as we speak so I expect it'll come out in 2019, probably in time for the new school year. Of course, when it does come out, you'll hear it here first, so keep coming back!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Trouble in Paradise Junction hits close to home

You can leave your hometown, but your hometown will never leave you.

That was true for me when I wrote my small-town satire Trouble in Paradise Junction. And it was true for Iowa Central Community College theater director Teresa Jackson when she first read the script.

"I fell in love with the town and its citizens on my first reading and heard their voices in my head immediately," she says in this article in the Fort Dodge Messenger. "Amazingly enough, the playwright's 'voices' sound very much like the ones I heard in my childhood. I grew up in Missouri and the Ozarks was our stomping ground."

Okay, so that last part is kind of embarrassing. But I'm thrilled she feels that way because I really worked hard to capture the real, honest-to-goodness people who live in that beautiful area, instead of the "hillbilly" stereotype that so many plays and TV shows seem to be satisfied with.

Many playwrights say that they hear the voices of their characters in their heads, and that writing a play is just a matter of dictating those voices to paper. Well, I haven't always experienced that--I sweat over every line of dialogue I write--but I have to admit it did come easier with this play than any of my others.

If you'd like to hear some of those voices for yourself, order a copy of the script here.