Jeremy Schonfeld & Lauren Kennedy: Catch Their DRIFT
An all-star benefit concert performance of DRIFT, with music and lyrics by Jeremy Schonfeld and directed by Lauren Kennedy, will be presented at BB King Blues Club & Grill on Monday, November 3 at 8:00PM.
DRIFT – In Concert will boast the talents of Adam Pascal (Rent), Adam Kantor (Rent), Jarrod Emick (Damn Yankees), Julia Murney (Wicked), Kris Coleman (Jersey Boys), Karla Mosley (Expatriate), Terrence Mann (Les Miserables), Scott Coulter and Michelle Kinney. Produced by the PATH Fund, Inc., the evening will benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights and Atlanta's Broadway Dreams Foundation.
The rock-musical, according the press notes, “weaves raw and gracefully honest songs together to tell the story of one man’s divorce and reconciliation.” Originally released as a concept recording by Sh-K-Boom Records, a book musical version of DRIFT (with collaborator Craig Pospisil) premiered at the 2005 New York Musical Theater Festival (NYMF), and was subsequently produced in an award-winning full-scale production as part of the 2006 Festival. Jeremy Schonfeld is currently collaborating with producer Ken Davenport on a Broadway-aimed musical version of Somewhere In Time, based on the best-selling novel and film.
Over a warm cup of tea, composer Jeremy Schonfeld and director Lauren Kennedy, chatted with BroadwayWorld about the latest version of DRIFT and their excitement of presenting this material in a highly-anticipated concert event…
Eugene Lovendusky: What’s happening Monday?
Jeremy Schonfeld: Monday, November 3... DRIFT - In Concert at BB King’s! It’s a big benefit huge-concert of all the music from the show that was based on the concept album. DRIFT began as a concept album that I put out in 2001, based on my divorce and child-custody. I wrote it as I was going through it, so it’s told essentially through a man’s perspective. It became one of these things where people asked: “What are you going to do with it?” I expanded it, we added characters, I stepped away from it… there were different incarnations of the show. It’s always been one of these things that wanted to come full-circle…
Lauren Kennedy: On Monday night, it’s going to be a celebration of this show. We’re not doing any dialogue – it will be the music. It was originally written for one man, but we have five different guys on Monday, who will be representing different aspects of this journey a man would go through with a divorce and keeping the relationship with his child intact. It’s going to be a real joyous, rock-and-roll evening with amazing singers. We have Adam Pascal, Jarrod Emick, Terrence Mann, Adam Kantor, Julia Murney… incredible line-up of people!
Jeremy: The music, when it was originally recorded, is a very lush album. I’ve never bee able to mount it the way I’ve heard it… The opportunity of being able to put it in a venue like BB King’s where we can really go full-out with the music and with the band…
Lauren: Hell, we have a harp!
Jeremy: …and strings, two guitars. The thing about doing DRIFT at NYMF was that we had to really water-it-down, bare bones, very quietly. For people to really be able to hear this – even for me – for the first time fully fleshed out is something really exciting.
Eugene: Jeremy, your music has been described as a blend between tuneful pop, hard-edged rock, soulful, blues, gospel… Where does DRIFT fit in?
Jeremy: Yes. [laughs] When I approach a song, I try to – as a storyteller – try to tell that story in the most appropriate way. If a song requires, for me, to be a hard-edged rock song… I’m going to do it. I’m not trying to stick into any particular genre. I’m just trying to serve the song, the story, the moment in the best way possible. For example, the song “Tuesday and Thursday” has a floating clarinet, a sort of childlike melody, because it’s about my daughter. When a show like this comes together, with a set of songs that flow and move through many moods and vibes, I feel it’s important to encompass a broad range of material.
Lauren: At the same time, I feel his voice as a composer, is very consistent. He comes from that singer/songwriter world. It’s very unique and very specific.
Eugene: Where did the need to put on this concert version of DRIFT come into fruition?
Lauren: Because it’s damn good! People need to hear it.
Jeremy: There has been a bit of frustration that I’ve never been able to do this show the way I’ve wanted to do it. Lauren and I met while recording “37 Notebooks” – I knew there was a kindred spirit there. We had talked about it and about doing something together. For me, personally, it’s about wanting to do something special. It’s really about the event now…
Eugene: What is your creative history?
Lauren: Seriously, our history goes back to about February! Jeremy was looking for singers for his album, Jarrod gave him my name… Our paths had crossed before, but we didn’t really know each other. I got a call from him and I said: “Sure.” We went into the studio and the creative process for that was interested as well. I was originally going to sing a solo, and ended-up doing a duet… with him! That was something! Because I had to match him vocally, and he sings so strongly. That’s another unique thing with Jeremy, when he’s singing his own material, it’s such an experience.
Jeremy: And we’ve done it live, since. We sang it at Birdland and The Zipper… I enjoyed being with Lauren, so asking her to direct was a no-brainer. And I always wanted a female voice to hone this thing, because it is – in many ways – a very masculine piece. She made soften the edges a little bit!
Eugene: Lauren, you’ve been showing a lot of duality lately. Acting in Spamalot on Broadway... Directing True West in North Carolina... Acting in Vanities in Los Angeles... New York debut directing DRIFT. What’s going on here?
Lauren: After I put out my two albums, working with new composers from conception to the final product… I loved doing that! I loved getting my hands dirty and digging deeper than just showing up at 10:00am – not that that’s not digging. In some ways, that’s a lot more difficult because you have to take in stimuli from everyone else (as opposed to it being your vision and thought). Two completely different and separate ways I work. But I really do like creating things from the ground up. And I do have a huge affinity to supporting new composers. I love working with actors and I love the fact that it’s selfless. You spend so much of your time as an actor worried about living up to other people’s expectations – it’s very self-focused. Whereas, I love the aspects of directing and reaching-out, making sure that Jeremy’s work gets shown in the best light, that the actors and singers are doing the best job they can do in telling the story. I want to do both!
Eugene: You’ve got some great singers in DRIFT… how did you rope them in?
Jeremy: It was great – we didn’t have to cast with this one. We just made calls. There were a few people who had already done DRIFT – like Jarrod Emick, who I really enjoy working with. Getting Scott Coulter and Karla Mosley (who were both in a previous DRIFT) – Scott has such a wonderful voice, can sit right on-top of a note. Karla and I have done some studio work together – she’s very good at catching harmonies. At the same time, I really desired to mix this thing up a bit. Adam Pascal and I have similar voices, rock and gravely and thicker tone… People just fell together.
Eugene: What’s required of your actors in this piece?
Lauren: Because it’s a benefit, there’s limited rehearsal time. We’re going to create a framework in which these songs can live, and in which the actors can live within them. Jeremy’s writing speaks for itself. You’ll totally understand that – though it was written for one man – we split it up among 5 guys to represent the process of the healing and coming to piece with the situation life has dealt you. Adam Pascal is going to be sort of the “leader” in the pin-point focus, while the other guys are also telling the same story.
Eugene: What will the audience experience?
Jeremy: The audience can come away with some sort of an emotional reaction to this – we know that over 50% of marriages end in divorce. We can’t even count the number of families affected by that. But at the end of the day, it’s a story from a point of departure to reaching a kind of melancholy that two single parents can find a way to raise a child…
DRIFT – In Concert, by Jeremy Schonfeld, directed by Lauren Kennedy. Monday, November 3 at 8:00PM at BB Kings Blues Club & Grill (237 West 42nd St). Tickets are $60, with standing room available at $30. For reservations visit Ticketmaster.com or call (212) 307-4141. For more information log on to BBKingsBlues.com
From This Author Eugene Lovendusky