30 Days of NYMF on BroadwayWorld Day 5: The Tutor, or How a Musical Grows Up
By Maryrose Wood
New musicals do not spring full-blown from the forehead of Zeus, Stephen Sondheim or even Ben Brantley. Instead, like Polaroid pictures and pubescent tweens, they must "develop."
Puberty's an apt metaphor, actually - the years it takes to develop a musical are riddled with long waits when it seems like nothing is happening, drastic mood swings when you realize the brilliant Act I finale you spent weeks writing is totally lame and must be replaced, and happy hormonal surges when you finally get it right. And then one day they're grown and heading off to college - or in the case of THE TUTOR, to a full production that's both the first show of Prospect Theater Company's season of new musicals, and a partner project of the New York Musical Theater Festival. The Musical Ivy League, class of '05.
If new musical development feels like puberty, workshops, vital and painful and expensive, can be considered the orthodontia. Workshops are where you take your freshly-minted masterpiece and give it an X-ray to find all the flaws and misalignments that must be yanked into place. We've had our share of difficult extractions, but THE TUTOR has also been incredibly fortunate. During the four years since composer Andrew Gerle and I started writing this show, THE TUTOR's various stages of development have been supported by the O'Neill Music Theater Conference, Premieres, The Public Theatre, The York Theatre, The Village Theatre in Issaquah, WA, and most notably, three consecutive years of support and encouragement from the Richard Rodgers Award. That's a lot of orthodontia, but we're still smiling.
THE TUTOR is about a brilliant and naively egomaniacal young man who's struggling to write the most epic first novel in the history of novels. It's also about a sullen, pierced-nose teenage girl with a secretly romantic heart, and a set of well-meaning parents who do daily battle with the indignities of middle age, the challenges of a long marriage and the roller-coaster ride of raising a teen. The best discovery we made while developing THE TUTOR was coming to understand what the show is "about" on the deepest level - each of our three generations of characters are, in his or her own way and at different stages in life's journey, taking the next step toward growing up.
Prospect Theater Company's production of THE TUTOR incorporates all the work that we've done on the show since the day it was "born," and adds the extraordinary creative energy of our director, design team and a hilarious, heart-warming cast of actors.
This is our next step. THE TUTOR is growing up.
Maryrose Wood is the bookwriter and lyricist of THE TUTOR, which opens Sept. 10 at 59E59 Theaters. Tickets are on sale now at www.ticketcentral.com. Go to www.tutormusical.com to hear audio clips and meet the cast.