Guest Blog: Scott Evan Davis On PICTURE PERFECT!
Two years ago, director Simon Greiff and I had coffee in New York to discuss the possibility of working together and bringing my music to London for the first time. I hadn't been writing very long at all, and had recently released my album "Cautiously Optimistic". I had done quite a few concerts in New York, and thought it might be a good idea to try out that format in London. We discussed putting a structured piece together, but scheduling and time wouldn't permit. What DID happen, however, was a concert featuring me, and two other wonderful composers at the Hippodrome's Matcham Room, produced by Simon (aka SimG Productions). It was to the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
So now, after two years of dreaming and what ifs and how can wes .....and roughly six months of actual planning, in conjunction with the brilliant minds of Stuart Matthew Price and James Yeoburn at United Theatrical Productions, we have just closed four performances of our musical PICTURE PERFECT at the St. James Studio. Up until this past week, everything has been on paper and in our minds. Simon and I had always been on the same page regarding how Picture Perfect might look. Is it a musical? Is it a song cycle? Is it some abstract hybrid of both? Now that we have watched four tremendous actors approach the material and perform it on stage we have a much better understanding of what we are trying to do. It was truly a gift to have this run. As a composer, I don't think I could be happier with the outcome.
I have had the experience of watching an audience watch my work. This was something very different. This was the first time a linear story was used to help tell the stories of my songs. The performances from the cast were so incredibly special. Helen Hobson, Charlotte Wakefield, Jerome Pradon and Joel Harper Jackson brought to life characters that Simon created, with songs that I care very deeply about. Musical direction and arrangments by Colin Billing, along with arrangements from my New York collaborator David Snyder rounded out the process.
Watching your own work being performed is never easy. It is nerve wracking, nail biting, fascinating, and exciting. I am not sure if I spent more time watching the audience, or watching the performers. I suppose it was a mixture of both. I paced in the back, sat in almost every seat in the house and looked at the show from every angle possible. Neurotic? I suppose. Necessary? Yes. I had no idea how my music would translate to a London audience. Luckily, that was an uncertainty that I didn't have to hold on to for very long. The audience's response was wonderful and I could not have been prouder of what we all had created.
Now, with this weekend behind us, we can focus on the next step. We can look at what we have created as a team. We can see what works.....and what doesn't. We can assess all of the feedback and put our heads together to continue the process. To have the chance to put your work on a stage in front of a loving audience is a pure gift. It has been an emotional and exhausting week, but I can honestly say that if I could repeat it again and again...I would. Even as I write this, I am finding it hard not to be sad that this particular experience has come to an end. It was something very special, and the energy was palpable.
I do find comfort in knowing that it is by no means an end. It is only the beginning. Picture Perfect now has a family, and like anything, it needs to be nurtured and cared for so it can grow into something even more wonderful.
Photo Credit: Jamie Scott-Smith