Feature: DAYS OF THIRST AND BEAUTY at Don't Tell Mama Will Ponder and Discuss Importance of Creativity

“I can’t sit down and write anything unless I have some kind of passion, unless something is consuming me.”

By: Oct. 18, 2021

Feature: DAYS OF THIRST AND BEAUTY at Don't Tell Mama Will Ponder and Discuss Importance of Creativity

In the documentary film MAKE ME FAMOUS a friend of the late Eighties painter Edward Brezinski declared that Edward (a known alcoholic and perpetual pauper) would always, any time he made any money at all, buy paint before he would buy alcohol. He spent his pittance on only the highest quality paints and the best grade of canvas, so important to him was his art. While an interesting insight into the mind of the artist that was Brezinski, as well as The Artist as an entity, this is not a unique theme. Time and again filmmakers, songwriters, authors, playwrights have detailed the stories of creatives who live for their craft. The film (more effectively than the play) AMADEUS shows Mozart's obsession with his music, the play SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE is the ultimate expression of a painter's devotion to their work, and every single narrative, from book to play to film, about Coco Chanel puts on display the fashion designer's rise to fame through her compulsion to create. Creativity is the driving force behind many a life, and it is the topic of conversation in the new musical play DAYS OF THIRST AND BEAUTY by Tom Frueh.

Feature: DAYS OF THIRST AND BEAUTY at Don't Tell Mama Will Ponder and Discuss Importance of Creativity Mr. Frueh (it's pronounced FREE) is an actor, a singer, a dancer, an artist, a writer, a songwriter, and a lot of other things that would fall into a column listing the various ways in which one could be creative. Especially interested in musical theater, Frueh has enjoyed a career in which he successful nabbed roles in plays written by other people, playing the likes of Mr. Kringelein in GRAND HOTEL, one of the ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY Porters, and a variety of roles in plays like THE DROWSY CHAPERONE, CABARET, CAROUSEL and many others. Unable to end his performing arts creativity there, some years ago Mr. Frueh began writing and is, now, the proud author of four one-man musical shows that have played Manhattan and other cities, in important one-person play festivals... that is to say, they will have played those cities. At this date, Tom Frueh is poised to debut his third show DAYS OF THIRST AND BEAUTY on Thursday, October 21st, and his fourth, AFTER THE SHOW WITH THE MAN WHO OWNED BROADWAY scheduled to come into the light sometime in December.

Thursday night Frueh will return to Don't Tell Mama in Midtown Manhattan for his first performance of Days Of Thirst And Beauty, a show that was born out of his pandemic experience. During the lockdown, Frueh would periodically ask himself why he couldn't get out of bed. There were days when it was an impossible task, and the question rang in his head, over and over: "Why can't I get out of bed?" Recognizing a good song lyric when he heard it, Frueh asked himself the more important question: what gets him out of bed every day. Creativity. Dance class, writing, composing music, figure drawing are the things that make Tom Frueh rise and draw breath each day. So he wrote a song about figure drawing. Then he wrote a song about taking a dance class. Then he wrote a song about music. Before he knew it, he was presenting his new musical to his longtime colleagues, director Jen Jurek and musical director Chris Piro, with whom he has collaborated on all four of his solo musical plays ("They're the most patient people in the world, so I know I can bounce ideas off of them.") and the duo echoed Tom's instinct to create a piece that would include occasional interactions with the audience "Not in a heavy-handed way but just in a conversational way," to be able to instill in them the knowledge that they have that creative spark inside of them, too.

"It's a show about creativity and how creativity can enrich our lives but also help us to solve problems in our lives, fill gaps, find deeper meanings in problems that we are experiencing deep in our relationships. It has limits, it can't solve everything but it's about how all of us are creative... every time we solve a problem by something processed that we haven't done before, we're being creative. By being deliberately and intentionally creative, we can find so much more passion, joy, so many more answers in our lives. We all have that capability."

Feature: DAYS OF THIRST AND BEAUTY at Don't Tell Mama Will Ponder and Discuss Importance of Creativity The play that returns Frueh to Don't Tell Mama, where he first presented his HOUDINI solo show, is a musical with a narrative that Tom says "is autobiographical, though it is really a version of myself," that answers that question about getting out of bed in the morning. Not to be mistaken for a song-cycle or a nightclub act, DAYS OF THIRST AND BEAUTY is a musical play with a story and a through-line, but one that Frueh is excited can be performed anywhere. "I have some other one-person shows that pretty much require a theater. They're more complicated, they have sets, they have props - I wanted something I could do anywhere, with Chris accompanying me on stage," though, at the suggestion that (as a play) anyone could license the script and perform it, Tom pauses to think, finally admitting that anyone could do the show... AFTER he is finished performing it.

Noting that DAYS OF THIRST AND BEAUTY was written faster than any of his other musicals because of the pandemic quarantine, Frueh jovially points out that he continued to do his work as a corporate writer by remote during the quarantine, using what had previously been his "gym time" to write the play, doing research by listening to cast albums, classical music, and stand-up comics while working out in the kitchen of his Hell's Kitchen apartment. "That led me to be more creative, more experimental... to push myself more, in terms of the music that I was writing. (And) The stand-up comedy part was immensely helpful in giving me confidence to communicate with the audience directly. What these people do - and I didn't appreciate it before - to the extent that they elevate this skill... they go out there and they don't know what kind of audience they're going to get, and the more that I listened to these people the more fascinated I would get about how skillful they were in communicating with their audience, no matter what they were getting back. It was brilliant."

Citing the casual nature of a cabaret room as ideal to the vibe of DAYS OF THIRST AND BEAUTY, Frueh connects his stand-up comedy lessons to his script and mission statement: "I did not want this to be an erudite story about creativity and a pretentious thing or preachy - that's why it was important to include the audience in the conversation. It's informal, it's friendly, it's casual. There tends to be an immediate connection with the audience. I didn't want to keep the audience at a distance. The message is that you are creative in whatever way you want to be."

Working as a team of three since last January, the THIRST creative process has been easy for Frueh, Piro and Jurek because scheduling so small a group of people is less difficult, allowing Jen to focus on her theater company and Chris to spend valuable time preparing for a number of concerts he had lined up. Nevertheless, the threesome put in a significant amount of time getting the script and songs just right. "For every song that's in the show, there are probably five or six versions that I discarded. (It's easy to discard them) because you can tell they're not working. I was trying to write a love ballad for another show and I played it for Chris... I played it badly for Chris... and I said, 'Tell me how this works, cause this is the third version of this song,' and I played it for him and he goes, 'Well, it's alright' and that's all I needed to know to tell me that it wasn't working. But he did it in a very polite way. There's no point in writing the music if you're not happy with it... writing the music is, now, probably my favorite kind of writing. So you discard these things, knowing that they're going to lead to something better."

Excited about his upcoming premiere, Mr. Frueh says the musical play talks about ways to make your life better no matter who you are, ways to make you feel more resilient, happier, ways to enjoy your life every day, to see more of the beauty in the world. The themes of creativity, he promises, will make audiences more persistent with their own creativity... "And the good news is that we all have this inside of us."

Tom Frueh DAYS OF THIRST AND BEAUTY plays Don't Tell Mama October 21st at 7 pm. For information and tickets visit the Don't Tell Mama website HERE.

Tom Frueh has a website HERE.


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