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MODERN MUSIC MASTERS: Georgia Stitt Talks New Album, New Musicals & More

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Discussing all aspects of her sensitive, charming and emotional new collection of songs, MY LIFELONG LOVE, today we are talking to composer Georgia Stitt, a uniquely gifted artist whose moving new album is an ideal representation of the many facets of her songwriting abilities and musicianship as well as a portal into her own genre-spanning inspirations and projects from which a number of these songs are culled - many musicals included! In addition to all about MY LIFELONG LOVE and the fabulous Broadway personalities appearing on it - such as Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Susan Egan, Shoshana Bean and Brian D'Arcy James - Stitt also illustrates how her personal life and role as a mother to two daughters has influenced her craft and career, as well as what we can expect from her in the future - like the new jukebox musical, HELLO! MY BABY, and the original musical, BIG RED SUN. Plus, background about working on the recording of the new ballet, THE TRUMPET OF THE SWAN, with her husband, Tony-winner Jason Robert Brown; music directing and acting as vocal coach on AMERICA'S GOT TALENT and GREASE: YOU'RE THE ONE THAT I WANT, an overview of all the musical projects she is working on currently - and much, much more!

For more information on Georgia Stitt you may visit her official website here. To purchase MY LIFELONG LOVE go here.

Sing Me A Happy Song

MODERN MUSIC MASTERS: Georgia Stitt Talks New Album, New Musicals & MorePC: Since you started out as a music director yourself, I have to ask: what do you think of GLEE?

GS: What I really think about GLEE is that I am happy that it exists and I am happy that it has made it cool to be a fan of the theatre - you know, that the choir geeks and the band geeks and the theatre geeks have a voice on national television. It makes it cool to sing in public again. It has absolutely made the work of people who write songs - contemporary musical theatre songs - more valuable and have a further reach to today's young people. So, I'm thrilled that it exists.

PC: It would be great for them to do a LAST FIVE YEARS homage, wouldn't it?

GS: [Laughs.] That would be so awesome!

PC: It's a very popular show with high school kids - as I'm sure you know.

GS: I do. I do. It's great.

MODERN MUSIC MASTERS: Georgia Stitt Talks New Album, New Musicals & MorePC: I thought that Stuart Matthew Price's ALL THINGS IN TIME was the best album of last year and your setting of Shakespeare on it was absolutely sublime.

GS: Oh, wow!

PC: That's probably my favorite track on the album, in retrospect.

GS: Are you serious? That's so sweet. You know, it's on my new record, too!

PC: Of course! Brian D'Arcy James does a superb job with it, needless to say. Did you do that initial recording in the studio with Stu himself?

GS: Yes, I did. I conducted it. He came to Los Angeles and Jason and I went into the studio and recorded it. I wrote the string parts and then we just did it.

PC: Stu's is such a simple and beautiful take on the song.

GS: Well, it's more intimate - it is. Stuart and I actually had a discussion at one point about just putting that track on my album - you know, just lifting it and re-releasing it.

PC: How interesting.

GS: Yeah, but, I felt like - and, I said, "No, I want people to find one and then find the other." I want them to, you know, be so interested in it that they type it into Google and find out that the other one exists. We can have two different versions - the intimate one, and, then, the big, orchestral one.

PC: For comparison's sake.

GS: Yeah. Yeah.

PC: Adele's "Someone To Love" can happily cohabitate with GLEE's "Someone To Love" on the charts, so it is definitely a method worth exploring. It's depictive of our age in a way, isn't it?

GS: Oh, yeah. And, I mean, it sort of harkens back to the classic, golden era of musical theatre - when musical theatre songs were written to be public entertainment. So, there would be lots of different recordings of "Embraceable You" or "Some Enchanted Evening" and things like that.

PC: Indeed.

GS: They were written to be hits.

PC: Totally.

GS: It's exciting to think that contemporary musical theatre songs or pop songs that get reconceived on GLEE have the ability to be translated and interpreted differently, over and over again.

PC: Is there a song on MY LIFELONG LOVE that you are considering releasing to the masses in any manner?

GS: You know, I don't know how to pick exactly - I've released the album, so now it's a matter of pushing songs. I think that "Sing Me A Happy Song", Shoshana Bean's track, is probably the most commercial.

PC: Easily.

GS: Right?

PC: "The Wanting Of You" is my personal favorite, I think, though. It's also the catchiest.

GS: Oh, I love "The Wanting Of You" and I love Susan [Egan]'s take on it. I think it's a little long to play on the radio, but it might find its way somewhere. From your mouth to God's ears!

PC: Tell me about working with Shoshana and if that version of "Sing Me A Happy Song" is the same as the version in the show it is from - especially given all of her signature melisma as heard on the track?

GS: It's from a revue. I wrote it as a standalone song and, now, it exists in this revue that I currently have - titled SING ME A HAPPY SONG. So, that's the title song in the revue, but, it was always meant to be a standalone piece. So, yeah, she brought a lot of that to it.

MODERN MUSIC MASTERS: Georgia Stitt Talks New Album, New Musicals & MorePC: How did that process work in the studio?

GS: You know, I structured it so it is straight through the song and then there is a little musical interlude and then there is a repeat - and, everything that happens in the repeat she brought to it.

PC: Considerable contributions given her unbelievable riffing skills.

GS: Yeah. Definitely.

PC: Are there any songs that you've co-written that you look back on and you wish you had written it all yourself?

GS: Well, there are certainly songs in shows where there are moments that I collaborated with someone where I think, "I wonder if I had written that song entirely by myself if I would have been able to get it more right?"

PC: Understandably.

GS: For me, honestly, once something is out in the world, I kind of leave it and move on. Especially with the recordings - they are done; they are out there. Just like what we were talking about with re-interpretation, the beauty of it is that if someone wants to re-record the song and take another pass at it, then that's great and we'll put that version of it out there, too. It's easy to get caught up in rewriting and rewriting and rewriting and never finishing anything. So, I think that if I look back on something and think, "Boy, I wish I could have done that better!" Then, usually what I try is to start fresh - like, "What's another take on that idea? Let me try a different version of it that I can express the same idea but now with my own music or my own words or something like that."

PC: Tell me about writing with Marcy Heissler on "The Wanting Of You".

GS: Marcy and I wrote a whole song-cycle together called ALPHABET CITY CYCLE.

PC: What can you tell me about that project?

GS: So far, we recorded it with Kate Baldwin and released it about two years ago. It's digital-only, so you have to know it's out there if you go looking for it! PS Classics released that recording.

PC: Is she still writing with Zina, as well?

GS: We actually are all friends. Marcy and I are good friends and Zina and I are good friends, too, and, Marcy and I had always talked about the possibility of doing something together - and, I said, "I don't want to step on Zina's toes. You two have an identity together. I don't want to feel like I am cheating with one of you or something." [Laughs.]

PC: Understandable given the circumstances.

GS: Yeah, so, Marcy said, "I have a file in my cabinet of poems that Zina looked at and said, 'I don't know what to do with these. These don't speak to me,'" - the songs Zina had passed on. So, I picked five lyrics and set them and we built a song cycle out of it. So, it's this odd, little, 20-minute piece that's not really theatrical. So, the songs are just there and people use them for their concerts and cabarets and things. Since then, Marcy and I have talked about turning it into some sort of revue or writing another song cycle and putting them together. But, right now, it's just this strange, little song cycle that's out there.

PC: I'm so glad that it's recorded so we can all access it - so many one-act pieces just disappear. This one won't.

GS: It's true. It's true.

PC: What is the current musical you are working on since I know you have a few in development right now?

GS: At the very forefront is a musical called HELLO! MY BABY that I wrote with Cheri Steinkellner - who is one of the writers on SISTER ACT and she wrote a musical called PRINCESSES; and, she was a writer and producer on CHEERS many years ago.

PC: What is the experience of working with her like?

GS: Oh, she is so fun - wacky and funny and smart and fast.

MODERN MUSIC MASTERS: Georgia Stitt Talks New Album, New Musicals & MorePC: What is HELLO! MY BABY about?

GS: HELLO! MY BABY is a musical that takes songs from 100 years ago that are in the public domain and uses them in this really smart book. So, it is a jukebox musical, but, also, a book musical that uses songs from 100 years ago. And, I have written contemporary arrangements of the songs and we use them now to tell the story.

PC: How interesting. What songs are included?

GS: Oh, there are songs like "You Made Me Love You" and "Ain't We Got Fun" and "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows" - you know, really, really golden classics of music and theatre.

PC: Nellie McKay did this column and told me about recording a song from that era for BOARDWALK EMPIRE, which takes place in that era. Those chestnuts are coming back in a big way these days!

GS: Yeah, it's the same era. It's so funny you say that, because songs from our show keep popping up on the BOARDWALK EMPIRE soundtrack! [Laughs.]

PC: That's so funny.

GS: Every time I watch an episode, I'm like, "Oop, that's in my show. That's in my show," - even stuff in the underscoring! [Laughs.]

PC: What's next for HELLO! MY BABY?

GS: We just did that at Goodspeed - it closed Thanksgiving weekend. Next, we are doing it at the Rubicon Theater in Ventura, California in March and April. Then, we have two other theaters we are in negotiations with right now.

PC: Looks like a bright future for HELLO! MY BABY, then.

GS: Yeah, I mean, it's a show that we know is audience-pleasing and we know that it will find its legs, but I don't know if it's a Broadway show or not - we are just trying to figure out, you know, where it goes after these couple of regional theaters.

PC: A Broadway show these days pretty much means you have $12 million to produce it and that's about it.

GS: [Laughs.] That's kind of true.

MODERN MUSIC MASTERS: Georgia Stitt Talks New Album, New Musicals & MorePC: PARADE is one of the finest Broadway scores in recent memory and things have certainly not gotten better for young composers on Broadway.

GS: I'm glad to hear you say that about PARADE because I think so, too.

PC: How did you and Jason Robert Brown meet?

GS: How Jason and I met was that I was the assistant conductor of the national tour of PARADE. So, I auditioned for him and he hired me and that was the beginning of this whole relationship.

PC: He conducted the tour, correct? How did you work that system out of who would do what stops?

GS: Well, our funny story was that we had the same lawyer. So, one day, I said to Mark, our lawyer, "I want to go out on the road. It's time for me to go on tour. What's going out?" And, he said, "PARADE's going out." And, I said, "PARADE? I love that show! I'd love to go out on PARADE." And, so, I wrote a letter - an e-mail - to Jason Robert Brown and I just said, "If you are looking for a musical director, then here is my resume. Our mutual lawyer Mark can speak to my skills," and all of that.

PC: Did he reply?

GS: Yes! Jason still has that e-mail! He wrote me back, "Dear Ms. Stitt, you sound fantastic, but I am conducting the tour - thank you very much!" [Laughs.]

PC: No way!

GS: So, I wrote back, saying, "Well… do you need an assistant?" [Laughs.] So, that's how that began - he conducted and I was the rehearsal pianist and, then, I played and conducted when he was out. There were just three of us on the music staff of that show back in 2000.

PC: You worked on Jason's first solo album, WEARING SOMEONE ELSE'S CLOTHES, as well, did you not?

GS: I think I may have conducted - oftentimes if he is playing the piano, I will conduct the string players or the choir. I can't speak specifically to whether I did that on that album or not, but we just did TRUMPET OF THE SWAN and I conducted. Oftentimes, we collaborate in that way - if he is playing, I will conduct; or, if he is conducting, I will play.

MODERN MUSIC MASTERS: Georgia Stitt Talks New Album, New Musicals & MorePC: Lynne Taylor-Corbett did this column and spoke so favorably about TRUMPET OF THE SWAN, as did Marsha Norman. What can you tell me about that piece?

GS: Well, it's from an E. B. White novel and Jason wrote it with Marsha Norman. It's for orchestra and actors. The actors don't sing, they narrate. It's closer to PETER & THE WOLF than it is to a musical. It's like a 70-minute piece and it's just captivating. I've seen it twice now - at the Kennedy Center, with the National Symphony Orchestra and Jason conducting. The CD is spectacular - it is beautifully produced and recorded. John Lithgow, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, MAndy Moore - it's a great cast on the album.

PC: Do you feel that Broadway is really wherever you bring it and it isn't limited to a few blocks in Manhattan anymore?

GS: Yes, I think that's true. Certainly, since when I was a kid, the access that people have to the Broadway community is unbelievable - you can friend people on Facebook; you can follow them on Twitter. It used to be that the only contact you got was at the stage door - or, maybe, if you sent them a fan letter at the theater and hoped that they might see it. But, now, people have so much access to the stars that they respect and admire - and, then, the stars in return nurture their communities; they post videos and write back to their fans and everything. So, it's just a really interesting time both to figure out how to nurture those relationships, but, also, to establish the boundaries that you need to establish so that you are not taken advantage of or any of those things. It is really an interesting time.

PC: Continuing with your conducting resume: another one of my favorite scores of all time is SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS, which you conducted on Broadway.

GS: Oh, I love it so much! It was so underrated, I think - the reviews and the way that it has played out historically. I sat in the pit and played it and I got to conduct it a few times and, night after night, I was just like, "This is amazing writing!"

PC: Those jazz blasts were unbelievable.

GS: Unbelievable! And, I was starting to be a writer at that time, and I remember thinking, "I have so much to learn!"

MODERN MUSIC MASTERS: Georgia Stitt Talks New Album, New Musicals & MorePC: Marvin Hamlisch is a brilliant composer.

GS: The way that he solved those musical problems and the way he got from one idea to the next - what he was doing was so mind-blowing to me. It was so smart and so musical. [Pause.] You know, I had played so many shows that were just - and I don't mean this to sound as derogatory as it is going to sound - but, they were just sort of Broadway-sounding. They all just sounded like typical Broadway. But, that show had its own voice and sense of musicality. I think PARADE is the same way - and THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA. IN THE HEIGHTS. Those are all amazing shows. They have such a musical identity.

PC: What is your stance on orchestrating your own work?

GS: Well, I do small orchestrations for myself - string arrangements or rhythm section arrangements. If it turns into a big band or an orchestra, I usually hire someone else to do it. It's very time-consuming and there are people who just do it better and think that way - I think in small ensembles or piano/vocal. So, Don [Sebesky] did the sonnet on my album and Jason did some of the string arrangements and Sam Davis did some of the arrangements for a song he wrote. I love working with orchestrators - I am actually interviewing orchestrators to hire for HELLO! MY BABY this week. So, I've been interviewing people and asking them questions and that, you know, is just a thrilling process.

PC: I bet. What is that collaboration like?

GS: The relationship between the composer and orchestrator… you see, because I orchestrate, I have ideas about what I want. But, what I also want is for an orchestrator to say to me, "Yes, I see what you are saying, but what if we do this?" And it's an even more creative solution, because it's not something I thought of. They know the instruments so well that they can say, "There is a more economical way you can get that sound with this." And, that's fantastic - it's just thrilling - when someone else can bring life and music into something that you've written.

PC: Since you've done your own, you know how much work it takes.

GS: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. And, you know, I often have the problem of, when the orchestration comes in, I'm like, "Oh, that's so great, but, if it were me, what I would have done is…" - it's this nit-picky thing and that nit-picky thing - so, for me, it's like, "You asked them to do it, so let them do it." [Laughs.]

PC: Just let them do their job.

GS: You have to live with it for awhile before you start changing anything, I've found.

PC: You did the orchestration of the sonnet for Stu's album, correct, as we were discussing earlier? Intimate versus Sebesky's orchestral.

GS: Yes. Right. Right. Exactly.

PC: Tell me about Anika Noni Rose's stunning song on MY LIFELONG LOVE and where it came from originally.

GS: There is a lot of back-story about the songs in the digital booklet and one of the specific stories is that one: I was in Australia earlier this year to do concerts and master classes. John Bucchino introduced me to an actor/singer named Tyron Park. He is putting together an album of songs based on photographs that his brother took - his brother is a very well-known commercial photographer in Australia. And, so, he sent me a link to his brother's photographs and he said, "Just look through these and if there is anything that you think inspires you, I'd love for you to write a song and I'll put it on my album and do it in my concert." And, the other people involved in the writing process were Stephen Schwartz and John Bucchino and Amanda McBroom - you know, really, really high-class writers.

PC: You can say that again.

GS: Yeah! So, I said, "Great! I want to be a part of this." So, I flipped through his brother's photographs and I found one that was this really masculine energy - all these boys drag-racing and they had beer and cigarettes and there was so much energy in the photograph. So, I was like, "Great! I'm going to write this song." And, I sat at my piano and I just could not figure out what it was. I could not figure out my way into it. I was like, "I don't have any relationship to this world or this life or anything." So, three or four days wasted and I went back to the website and I was like, "OK, what here says what I want to say?" And, I found this photograph - it's on a beach and it's a very dark and stormy day. It's black and white, so it's very moody. Most of it is clouds. Then, you see a little girl in the foreground and she is flying a kite. Then, there is the art stretched arm of a grown-up. That was it. That was the picture.

PC: There are many ways you could go with that musically.

GS: I thought, "OK, what is this? I think this song is about a parent - from the point of view of a parent - watching the child learn how to fly a kite and, then - taking the metaphor for letting go - what does it take to raise a child?" So, for me, I was like, "Oh, I have a lot to say about this!"

PC: Particularly as a mother yourself.

GS: Yeah, I have two children - a 6-year-old and a 2-year old; two daughters. I think a lot of what I am going through in my life is about, you know, trying to find the balance in the work that I want to do, but also trying to be present for them. You know, give them what they need but not to smother them and to push them, but not too hard, and all of that parenting stuff. So, that's where that song came from - from that one photograph.

PC: What a story.

GS: I actually couldn't print the picture in the booklet because Tyron is printing it in his booklet for his album, and, so, eventually, when his album is out I will put it on my website or something so everyone will be able to see it. But, for now, I think that the song stands alone anyway.

PC: Is there a song on the album that means the most to you?MODERN MUSIC MASTERS: Georgia Stitt Talks New Album, New Musicals & More

GS: Well, we've actually talked about most of my favorites.

PC: What can you tell me about "Love After Love" and the Derek Wolcott poem that acts as its lyrics?

GS: Right! Right. "Love After Love" I wrote several years ago. The New Voices Collective takes people who work as music directors in the theatre who are also sort of closet writers and gives them a voice to let their music be heard. So, six or seven years ago when it started, that's exactly what I was - I was a pit musician and conductor aspiring to be a writer. Many people in the New Voices Collective were in similar situations. So, we often took poems and set them.

PC: To get over the lyric-writing hump, probably.

GS: Yeah, I mean, I had written poems in college, but I hadn't really had an excuse to do it since then. So, most of the songs that I wrote both on the standalone things on the first album and on this album I wrote because Joel gave me a platform. "Love After Love" was one of those. We own a collection of Derek Wolcott's poetry and I was flipping through it and I found one poem that spoke to me very deeply - because I just really loved what it had to say. And, I heard music - so, I set it. Then, I went about the process of getting permission from Derek Wolcott's people to actually release it - which I did, but it took a while.

PC: As these things tend to do.

GS: Yeah, it was one of those songs that I gave to a lot of singers and said, "Here, learn this!" I mean, Matthew Morrison has sung it; Cheyenne Jackson has sung it. When I performed at Birdland, I would put that song in. I just think it's magical. So, finally, Michel McElroy just loved it and brought so much life to it. I think it is just a lovely ending to the record - I think that the way it ends on a major chord at the end is a nice way to send you out into the world at the end of the record.

PC: Without a doubt. What does the song mean to you personally?

GS: I think the idea of the song is: after you have gone through all of this sh*t in your life, you will be able to fall in love with yourself again and there is a future for you.

PC: How poignant.

GS: I think it's so beautiful. I think we all experience it and I think that's why that poem spoke to me so deeply.

PC: What are your feelings on adapting poetry now that you are more experienced and established as a lyricist?

GS: Personally, I find that poems feel so full already. For me, Emily Dickinson poems are so full - they are so tightly-structured and the meter is there - that I feel like my music would get in the way of them. And, I feel like this one had so much room for musical interpretation - the same goes for the Shakespeare sonnet and the Dorothy Parker poem.

PC: What is the genesis of the 1-minute Dorothy Parker ditty and the other short selection?

GS: The Dorothy Parker song was, again, a New Voices thing. I had an idea that maybe I would write a little song cycle of twenty 1-minute songs. I think I finished eight of them and these were the two I liked most. The one called "Communication" is from that project, too.

PC: From where did the inspiration for that one derive?

GS: It was on the subway - you know the Poetry In Motion thing?

PC: Yes, of course. How contemporary!

GS: It was before cellphones - that's what I do now; take pictures to remember things - but, I wrote it down, came home and Googled it and got in touch with the author. I got permission from her to set it and so it was a short and sweet process. That one was like one joke, but it made me laugh - I thought, "Oh, isn't that a truth of the world? You know, I am trying to talk to you about poetry and you are just hungry - but, the truth of the matter is that I am hungry, too." [Laughs.]

PC: So true. Tell me about working with Jessie Tyler Ferguson.

GS: Well, we were friends in New York and, then, we moved to LA about the same time and we were friends out here. He is putting together a one-man-show out here and I am the musical director. He is so great because he is a man of the musical theatre and he is such a fan of contemporary musical theatre - he sings a lot of Bill Finn and Michael John LaChiusa - and, then, he has had such great success in his TV career, too. And, he is very gracious. Other times, when you are friends with someone who is a theatre person and then they go off and become a big star, it is hard to get to them anymore. But, Jessie is completely available and accessible and we are still friendly and hang out. It's great. So, he has sung this song for me long before MODERN FAMILY. Lauren Kennedy recorded it first and it is one of my most popular songs. It has a whole lot of life as a song that girls sing, but, when Jessie sang it, I thought, "There you go - now it means something completely different." It's a completely different take on the song when Jessie sings it. And, so, I wanted that version of the song to be in the world, too. He is very easy and so great.

PC: So, it was written from a female perspective originally?

GS: Yeah, it was, and, you know, it's embellished but it is kind of my life-story.

PC: Really? How so?

GS: Well, I did join the band because there was a boy named Adam I liked who played the clarinet. That got me into music - because I joined the band because I liked that boy. That's what the point of the song is: sometimes you think you are following one thing but it leads you to the other thing that is actually what you are meant to do with your life. So, I think that's what it is - when you look back on life, you thought you were headed one way, but, in fact, you arrived somewhere else. Yet, that's where you always were meant to be.MODERN MUSIC MASTERS: Georgia Stitt Talks New Album, New Musicals & More

PC: What was working on the GREASE revival reality casting competition like?

GS: It was a blast! Kathleen Marshall brought me into that project. I had just moved to Los Angeles and she and I had worked on several projects - most recently, we had worked on LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS in New York - and, so, then, she came out to Los Angeles to do the show and she recommended me, I guess, to be the vocal coach on it. So, that was great.

PC: Was it difficult adjusting to reality TV filming scenario?

GS: It was a natural fit for me, actually, because I was really doing what I always do as a theatrical music director. I was working one-on-one with these young, aspiring musical theatre singers and helping them work on their songs. The stuff that was new to me was all of the TV stuff - dealing with the networks and the reality cameras and all of the onstage/offstage stuff. But, so many of the people on that show have gone on to be Broadway names.

PC: Including Laura Osnes, who is featured on not one, but two tracks on MY LIFELONG LOVE!

GS: Yes! Yes. And, I also had the opportunity to work as the vocal coach and musical director for AMERICA'S GOT TALENT for one season.

PC: Of course. What was that experience like?

GS: That was a big departure from musical theatre. AMERICA'S GOT TALENT is a variety show - like THE GONG SHOW. There would be people as giant balloon creatures and, then, someone singing - so, I had to help them understand the technical side of singing and also help them find the emotional core.

PC: What do you think about Howard Stern replacing Piers Morgan as a judge?

GS: Oh, right. Well, he's right in keeping with the kinds of people they have on there. When I was there it was David Hasselhoff. It's very entertaining and it's very successful. In the same way that people are hungry for GLEE, people are hungry for seeing people perform like that - sometimes it's really entertaining to watch them fail and it's always really entertaining to watch them succeed.

PC: Speaking of which: have you seen the SMASH pilot yet?

GS: I have! It's amazing. I think it's a similar thing to what GLEE did - it's going to get people interested in musical storytelling. For people who can't afford a Broadway ticket, it's a way to reach them, too - and anything that can do that I think is fantastic.

PC: What do you think of rap as a storytelling method? Is that the next step for Broadway to take to remain relevant - to be more along the lines of the score for IN THE HEIGHTS?

GS: Well, I think what Lin-Manuel has done is amazing - when I saw IN THE HEIGHTS, I was like, "There you go - someone has finally done it." And, we all sort of acknowledge that Sondheim did it first in INTO THE WOODS with the "Greens, greens," thing. That was definitely the beginning of it.

PC: Without question. We actually discussed that when Sondheim did my column the first time.

GS: I think that the idea of using words and rhythm to communicate an idea or story is fantastic. I think what Lin-Manuel did that goes even further than what Sondheim had done was to make it relevant to popular music - what hip-hop music sounds like today. It's a vocabulary. It was through his collaboration with [music director] Alex Lacamore that it felt like rap and felt like theatre at the same time. Because Lin-Manuel comes from the theatre and loves the theatre and understands the rules of theatre, it didn't feel like a breach - I mean, it didn't feel like he was raping the theatre to do his hip-hop; it was both worlds at the same time. I think that's why it was so brilliant.

PC: What a fascinating insight.

MODERN MUSIC MASTERS: Georgia Stitt Talks New Album, New Musicals & More

GS: But, hip-hop and rap music doesn't speak to me, personally. For me, there isn't a lot of music in it - but, my training is on the completely opposite side of the spectrum. I grew up as a classical musician and sort of came to musical theatre through musical storytelling. But, in the same way that I think GLEE reaches audiences, I think that rap reaches people - it just doesn't reach me in the same way.

PC: We are in a majorly meta-media age, after all. What's coming up next for you compositionally?

GS: Well, I am moving more into writing music and lyrics together and collaborating with book writers and directors. I have three or four shows in development, so I am hoping they make it to New York. I am doing the Sundance Lab in February and we are doing SING ME A HAPPY SONG there. And, I have another musical called BIG RED SUN.

PC: What is BIG RED SUN about?

GS: It is an original book musical surrounding World War II. There are flashbacks to the 30s and pre-World War II and when we start telling the story from the kid's point of view it in is the 60s. So, it sort of tells the story of how America changed from the 30s through the 60s as told through how the music changed through those decades.

PC: Wow! That is a great concept rife for musical storytelling possibilities.

GS: Yeah, I mean, it goes from swing to Bob Dylan in the span of one generation - and how America changed with it. It is all original songs, but it tells the story of this father and son and how they are trying to communicate with each other. There are some demos from it on my website.

MODERN MUSIC MASTERS: Georgia Stitt Talks New Album, New Musicals & MorePC: Last question: what is GLAMOUR & GOOP?

GS: Susan Egan and I are good friends and we blog at glamourandgoop.com. People think what we do is so glamorous because we are in musical theatre - but, it's really not. [Laughs.] You know, because of her history with Disney - BEAUTY & THE BEAST and HERCULES - she gets asked to do Disney cruises a lot. So, I was her music director and we went on the Disney cruise and took our four girls with us. So, one night, the show was at 7 and at 6:15 we were in our gowns with our make-up on and we went in to check on the girls and they were screaming and covered in peanut butter and everything. They were too much for the babysitter, so we were helping them get into the bath and settled down. Then, we had to go do our show. So, as we were walking from the chaos of our little cabin to the backstage area, I said, "So, what's it like being a big Broadway star?" [Laughs.] And, she started laughing. We are just moms! We just happen to put on ball gowns and do shows after we put the kids to bed - but, there's lots of goop, too. But, the spin is that sometimes the goop is the business - you know, your agent calls while you are at your daughter's ballet recital - and you are so lucky to have the glamour of your family at home. So, we write about anything that falls into that category.

PC: Will you be doing any concerts to promote MY LIFELONG LOVE in 2012?

GS: I will be doing Birdland at the end of April to promote the album - April 30.

PC: Will you ever collaborate on a musical with Jason?

MODERN MUSIC MASTERS: Georgia Stitt Talks New Album, New Musicals & More

GS: You know, we toy around with the idea from time to time. So far, I think we feel it is more important to be each other's champions. And, I don't know any collaborations that at some point didn't get a little testy. So, I think at this point, it's been more important for us to be objective and be fans of each other's work. We've been together for eleven years, so we're getting more and more able to entertain the idea. If he was a composer and I was a lyricist it would make more sense - there hasn't been an obvious way to collaborate yet. We just haven't gotten there yet.

PC: Hopefully BIG RED SUN and HONEYMOON IN VEGAS will be running concurrently on Broadway some season soon!

GS: [Laughs.] Wouldn't that be great? It looks like HONEYMOON IN VEGAS is going to go first! 

PC: I heard the last reading was fantastic.

GS: Yeah, it was really, really great! It was terrific.

 PC: I can't wait. Last question: is it your 6-year-old that's on the cover?

GS: Yeah, it's my 6-year-old - you know, it's really an album about a little girl growing up to be a composer; me. So, after looking through a lot of different pictures, I showed that picture to the designer and I said, "That!" [Laughs.]

PC: This was great, Georgia. Thank you so much for this and have a fabulous holiday.

GS: Thank you very, very much, Pat. You, too! Bye bye.

MODERN MUSIC MASTERS: Georgia Stitt Talks New Album, New Musicals & More

 

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From This Author Pat Cerasaro

Pat Cerasaro contributes exclusive scholarly columns including InDepth InterViews, Sound Off, Theatrical Throwback Thursdays, Flash Friday and Flash Special as well as additional special features, (read more...)

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