Off-Broadway Writing Team, Michael Sgouros And Brenda Bell, Celebrate Their 40th Production With CINDERELLA THE MUSICAL
On Sunday, February 18, Cinderella the Musical marked the creators' 40th Off-Broadway production with a sold-out performance at The Players Theatre in Greenwich Village. Michael Sgouros (music) and Brenda Bell (book/lyrics), who have been collaborating since 2008, have written 12 original Off-Broadway musicals together. This latest production of Cinderella marks the shows fourth revival.
The teams' collaborative relationship started as a happy accident when Bell's company, Literally Alive Family Theatre, was preparing to mount a new musical production of The Selfish Giant for the First Irish Festival at The Players Theatre. "I had been producing shows at the Players for a year at the time and knew that Michael was a musician, but we had never discussed writing together" remarked Bell. "I noticed that Brenda seemed upset one afternoon and she told me that her current composer had fallen ill and could not write the music for the up-coming show" said Sgouros. "Michael offered to write the music for me" continued Bell "In a weekend" noted Sgouros and the result was the start of a successful collaboration that has lasted a decade.
In an industry where creative partnerships are often short-lived, one wonders, what has kept the team of Sgouros and Bell together and thriving? For one thing, they have mutual admiration for each other's talents and respect the line between their areas of expertise. And how did they manage to write 12 shows and mount 40 productions in 10 years? Deadlines! "We create a season and start selling tickets" said Bell who also acts as producer for the productions. "When auditions start in two weeks, you finish the songs!" added Sgouros, who also is the owner of The Players Theatre.
While Sgouros and Bell's talents are complementary their backgrounds are very different. Bell started out as a dancer and moved into producing while Sgouros is a Julliard trained percussionist with a knack for real estate. Their varied skills and talents have led them down an unusual path to theatrical success. Sgouros bought The Players Theatre in 2006 which houses their creations and has composed musical theatre scores that are predominately percussion-based. Bell not only fills the stage with musical theatre but also fills the seats; their productions account for 70% of the theatres performance schedule and income.
Cinderella the Musical plays through April 22 when it will go back into the rotation along with their 11 other musicals: The Selfish Giant, Treasure Island, A Christmas Carol, Phantom of the Opera, Sleepy Hollow, Alice in Wonderland, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Stone Soup, Tico Tales and Frankenstein. While the team is taking a mini break on writing new shows, they are hard at work on preparing their current works for licensing.
For information on licensing and tickets for Cinderella the Musical visit: www.theplayerstheatre.com