A few days ago we posted a story about the Musical Theatre Artists of Pittsburgh’s first ever showcase, Hot Metal Musicals. Well Monday night we went down to the Cabaret and had a wonderful evening listening to eighteen new musical theater songs. Fourteen shows were described, plus four more songs that were writen independently. The evening’s performers were Lisa Ann Goldsmith, Eric James Davidson, Natalie Hatcher, Justin Lonesome, Eva Rainforth, Missy Moreno, Leon S. Zionts, and accompanied on piano by Douglas Levine. Here is a brief recap of each song and the shows they were written for:
The first number was “Pretend” from Off with Her Maidenhead, an adult version of a failed Disney story written by duo Amy Claussen and James Rushin. The song focuses on the mute (yes, mute) orphan who doesn’t get her happy ending and is comforted by her animal friends. The song is an upbeat and fun number, akin to most Disney songs, and is full of jokes at the expense of classic fairy tales.
Following with a similar upbeat feel was the title song from Joseph Domencic’s The Next Galileo. The story focuses on a shy 13-year old girl who travels back in time to work alongside Galileo Galilei. The optimistic song has the girl confidently declaring to her classmates that she will be the next great inventor, inspired by her experience with Galileo.
The first ballad of the night came from Kitty, with the song “Suddenly, it Matters” by John Keating and Sandra Lowell. Set in 1880’s Ireland, this show tells the story of Irish Home Rule leader Charles Stewart Parnell and his married lover Katharine “Kitty” O’shea. This beautiful song captures a moment where Kitty reflects on how everything she does now affects things on a much larger scale.
The next song was the duet “Solitude” from Ted Kociolek and Walter Holland’s musical adaptation of The Age Of Innocence. A “neo-operetta” that tells the story of forbidden love in 1870’s New York, the song is a beautiful operatic duet between the story’s leads.
Then came a group number called “Weirdoes” from [Best Imitation] by Jeremy Richter. This story focuses on a writer who is trying to finish his musical but is getting distracted as his characters take shape around him and compete for attention in the show. The contemporary pop song shows many characters singing over each other, each story fighting to be told.
Another group number was the act one closer from MTAP’s Executive Director and Creative Producer, Stephanie Riso’s show The Storm, “Common Ground:. An adaptation of Ostovksky’s play that focuses on the change and inequality in 1860’s Russia. The slow, steady song shows an upper-class female encouraging the workers in her small town to band together, find common ground (obviously), and overcome oppression.
Next we were treated to “Moscow McDonald’s Waltz” from The Magical Moscow McDonald’s Miracle of Love by Frank Galiano and James Rushin. This absurd-sounding show tells the story of four people who find love at the opening of the World’s biggest McDonald’s in 1990 Moscow. The waltz was cute and bizarre, a somewhat small tasting of a funny concept.
“Let It Be Me” from Eastburn Avenue is next, written by Marcus Stevens and Douglas Levine. In this story a family matriarch is beginning to fade away, and her death promises to bring plenty of chaos down onto her clan. The song is sung by a relative (I believe daughter) to the dying woman, and is appropriately full of sadness and hurt.
Next was a number called “I Once dated a Man” from Me, Myself, and Others. This one-woman show is penned (and performed) by Eva Rainforth, and is a funny and poignant piece on relationships and life in general. This funny, operatic song was about a woman’s awkward (but hilarious) relationship with a man who had a little something…extra.
“Why Should He Have to Know” was next, from Jeanne Drennan and David Berlin’s Dear Boy. Set in 18th-century England, the show sees the Earl of Chesterfield as he raises his illegitimate son to be a refined gentleman. Complicated relationships (also, according to the notes: puppets) seem to play heavy into this process and is featured in this duet between father and son.
Next was “Another Miracle” from Lazarus, a rock-style show about Mary sister of Lazarus, and her faith (then lack of faith) in Christ, created by Chuck Sperry. The song was a sweet rock ballad from the female lead during what is probably a confusing time for her.
Michael Mitneck, Will Connolly and Kim Rosenstock’s Fly By Night was the next show, a dark comic fable about a sandwich maker whose life is spiced up a bit by two entrancing sisters. The song “Cecily Smith” is a beautiful solo where a man recounts the beginning, middle, and tragic end of his relationship with the eponymous woman.
Nearing the end was “Stay” from The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes by Christopher Dimond and Michael Kooman. This show stars an average man who wakes up one day to find his life has been turned into a musical. The song is a sweet, pleading song as Howard’s spiritual guide begs him to stay in this new world.
Closing out the night was “Maybe One Day” from Murphy’s Law from Andy Nagraj and Jonathan Spivey. This show is about a man who has the worst day of his life and then tries to escape it, only to learn that everything that can go wrong will go wrong. The song was a more optimistic group number, and provided a nice closer for the evening.
I didn’t forget the stand-alone songs. There was “We Could Easily Fall in Love” by David Michael King, a funny duet between a man and an unenthusiastic woman. “In Your Arms” by Nanette Midgley, a sweet romantic pop ballad. “Kiss the Cook” by Laurie Klatscher, an ode to a woman’s love…and food. And finally “Back to the ‘Burgh”, a number celebrating classic Pittsburgh things by Laura Lind.
All in all, Hot Metal Musicals was an entertaining and successful night. A lot of fun concepts and great songs were shown and I honestly would like to see more of any of these shows. Best of luck to all the artists that were involved and I hope to hear more from you in the future.