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Writers in Cyberspace

In today's Arts and Leisure section of the New York Times, Anthony Tommasini writes an interesting article about revivals versus new musical works. He points out that producers will invest in a safe revival of The Sound of Music rather than a new work, which is untried, thereby having much greater risk to the backers. All of this stunts the growth of new work in musicals and plays. So, where do writers turn?

Tommasini quotes Stephen Sondheim, "In the time of the Gershwins, the vitality was fabulous. Everything didn't depend on money. No art forms today have that kind of vitality, where people are having fun just trying things. Maybe the Internet, with its cyberbooks and web sites. It's a mess, but it's vital."

I find that to be an interesting quote from Mr. Sondheim. The Internet is providing that vital space for writers to display their creative work and, best of all, it's a hell of a lot of fun. Being a pioneer in this field with my own short story, The Return To Neverland, I have had much satisfaction by publishing it here on the Web. And because of the Web, I have had the fortunate experience of meeting Mike Reynolds, a playwright, who believes in this short story and is currently working on a libretto for a musical. Will we create a new musical for the Broadway theater? That remains to be seen, but we sure are having fun. We're currently chronicling the making of the musical in Broadway Bound, which is a fun read and has developed a cult following.

About a year ago, I heard from a Professor William F. Orr from Hofstra University. His novel, Any Other Season, had been rejected by several publishers. It seemed that editors felt that readers today would not be interested in a book about the theater. And it's not that Mr. Orr is new to the writing field. He's written other novels which have been published. So, what to do? Stop writing? William stumbled upon Talkin' Broadway one day and a spark went off. 'If this V.J. character can publish on the web, so can I', and indeed he did. His entire 27 chapter novel was published on the web and he built a following who were notified by e-mail when the latest chapters were completed (with full illustrations!). While he's not made any money from the novel, at least he's read and that's the single most important thing anyway. He has now moved on to new projects after having the satisfaction of publishing on the Web (read Any Other Season).

Another example of writers in cyberspace is the team of Robert Stempin and Leo LaBranche, who are working on a new musical you've read about here, Dearest Teacher. Bob wrote his play almost 20 years ago, and it was produced in regional theater, but he always felt it could be a musical. Finding someone who believed in the project was not an easy chore, but because of cyberspace and a post on our All That Chat forum, Bob is happily finishing his musical with composer/lyricist Leo LaBranche and getting it ready for workshop.

So there you have three projects born in cyberspace. Will any of them become commercial successes? It's very possible, as anything can happen on the Web.

Tidbits: Our Talkin' Broadway auction is doing very well over on the ebay Website with well over $1,000.00 in bids, all of which will go to charity. One item is very hot. It's a night on Broadway starting off with dinner at Sardi's and box seats to Jekyll & Hyde. The winning bidder will also get to helm this column and write a review of the evening. The auction for this item ends on Thursday morning. Our final items are a video of Singin' In The Rain signed by Debbie Reynolds and a Fosse program autographed by Ann Reinking from the World Premiere production now playing in Toronto. Auction ends on Saturday for these two. Join us in this worthy cause.

The Livent/Drabinsky mess has been all over the news. The whole thing is perplexing to me. I can't understand how Garth could make the mistake of having two sets of books! I mean, that's dumb. Any good businessman will tell you that you need three. One for investors to spout profits, one for the Government to plead poverty, and the real set, of course. Sheesh, I coulda been of great assistance. ;)

Just found out that the Theater Cruise I'm taking with Theater At Sea in October has signed on an entertainment director - none other than Lee Roy Reams. Lee Roy is currently wowing crowds nightly with Jerry Herman and Florence Lacey in the hit Herman tribute, An Evening with Jerry Herman.

See you Thursday!

Wanna' talk to others about this column or anything else theatre related? Check out All That Chat

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