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WHISPER HOUSE: Kyle's Blog - 'On The Importance of Having A Crew'


Grammy and Tony award-winning songwriter and composer Duncan Sheik returns with his new album WHISPER HOUSE, which hit stores on January 27 from Victor Records/Sony Music. WHISPER HOUSE marks Sheik's first solo album since 2006's critically-acclaimed White Limousine and comes on the heels of the success of Spring Awakening. The idea for WHISPER HOUSE came about when actor Keith Powell (30 Rock) approached Sheik about developing a musical theatre piece with him.

Following a trip Powell took to New England, a story began to emerge centered around a lighthouse, and up-and-coming young playwright Kyle Jarrow, already an Obie winner for A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant, signed on to create the book. BroadwayWorld is excited to bring you Kyle's exclusive WHISPER HOUSE Blog following the show from it's inception through the tentatively scheduled Broadway Production in 2010, now continue the journey with Kyle to WHISPER HOUSE!

You know how some rappers have crews? I think theater people need crews too.

In WHISPER HOUSE, there are two performers who do the singing-a male ghost and a female one. When we workshopped the show at New York Theatre Workshop last May, we cast these roles with two longtime collaborators of Duncan Sheik's: David Poe and Holly Brook (whose voice can be heard on the WHISPER HOUSE record). When the first full production of the show happens (to be announced soon!) we're very much hoping that they join us. Because not only do they bring their own impressive musical and performance skills to the table, but they also bring an experience and familiarity with Duncan's music. They understand how he wants it to be performed, and how it works best.

I think it'd be great if this could happen more in the theater: writers and directors getting to work with the same groups of collaborators over and over again. This allows a common artistic vocabulary to develop, and allows the scope of the collaboration to deepen over time. Successful examples of this that spring to mind are David Mamet's company of actors and filmmaker PT Anderson's (which has some overlaps with Mamet's, interestingly enough).

Really, this is one of the greatest joys of artistic collaboration: getting to work with the same people over and over again, forging artistic and personal bonds simultaneously. Right now, I'm workshopping another musical I wrote, called BIG MONEY-set in 1982 with synth-pop music, it couldn't be more different from WHISPER HOUSE-and I have the opportunity the work with several frequent collaborators on it, including actress Libby Winters and composer Nathan Leigh. Having these people in the room makes the whole process an incredible pleasure, and I think it makes the work better too.

We see this kind of collaboration a lot in the downtown experimental scene, which is generally centered around theater companies. But in the "uptown" world, and the regional theater scene, we see fewer of these kinds of "crews". This is probably due to financial considerations (theater is a considerably less lucrative industry than hip hop, for example). Actors, directors, and writers in the theater have to balance a large number of simultaneous projects in order to make ends meet, and this makes it difficult logistically to organize consistent collaboration. But where and when it's possible-such as with David Poe and Holly Brook on WHISPER HOUSE-I think it brings something special to the table.

-Kyle Jarrow

Kyle Jarrow is a writer and musician based in New York City. He writes for the stage as well as film and television, and he plays in the bands The Fabulous Entourage and Super Mirage. He won the prestigious OBIE Award at age 24 for his Off-Broadway hit A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant, which has subsequently been produced all over the country. Kyle's play Armless won the Overall Excellence Award at the New York International Fringe Festival. Other plays include Love Kills, Trigger, President Harding is a Rock Star, Rip Me Open (co-writer), Hostage Song (music & lyrics), Gorilla Man (script available from Samuel French), and the upcoming Big Money (with Nathan Leigh) and Whisper House (with Tony-winner Duncan Sheik, record now available from RCA/Victor).

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Photo of Kyle by Sarah Sloboda

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