No lyrics today, just some raucous tenor sax playing from Ron Kerber on a track called “Funky Little Donkey” from the 2011 production of Sylvester and the Magic Pebble I scored for Enchantment Theater Company. Matt Gallagher, Kevin MacConnell and Lars Halle are also with me in the band.
The title is a little misleading, since this is a song I created for a comic dance routine for three squirrels (Miranda Libkin with Peter Smith and Zach Chiero, pictured above). The melody is actually re-purposed from a tune I wrote for a Sunoco industrial years ago called “Nothing Happens Til It’s Sold,” and the stage action gave Miranda, who plays the little sister squirrel, plenty of opportunity to make a fool of herself!
My relationship with Enchantment Theater Company is a happy one that began eight years ago when Landis Smith approached me to see if I was interested in helping them expand a suite of songs by Don Sebesky into a 50-minute continuous score for a stage version of The Velveteen Rabbit. The next project to follow was an adaptation of Crockett Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon, which is now in its third season of national touring. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, adapted from the book by William Steig, came next, and then I went toe-to-toe with Rimsky-Korsakov to adapt the music from Sheherazade for a chamber ensemble to accompany their production of Aladdin and other Enchanted Tales. In 2015, I’ve got two commissions from Enchantment, the first of which, The Brave Little Tailor, is sitting on the music rack of my office piano right now; it opens later this spring. The second is scheduled to open this fall, and it promises to be our most ambitious collaboration yet: an adaptation of Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit stories undertaken in collaboration with the Estate of Beatrix Potter and Penguin Books UK in celebration of Potter’s 150th birthday. Peter Rabbit won’t sound anything like the Funky Little Donkey, believe me, but I know that it will be an adventure just like every other Enchantment project has been, a wonderful partnership with Landis and Jennifer Smith, Leslie Reidel and the crackerjack team of artists they assemble each year.