Tag Archives: Philadelphia

Happy Birthday, Francis from Gemini the Musical (Day 176)

Strictly speaking, this song should have been published on June 1, the day it “actually” takes place. The second of June is Francis Geminiani’s birthday – Albert Innaurato’s birthday too, if you are in need of any further confirmation this play is profoundly autobiographical – and his WASP-y friends Judith and Randy arrive for a surprise visit the day before. That means that Francis is a Gemini, astrologically speaking, hence the title of the play.

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Good Show, from Leading Lady (Day 129)

Yesterday I posted the first opening number I wrote for Leading Lady, Only The Best. Eventually, though, I hit on a way to open the show that introduces the ensemble and the milieu more effectively without all the “we’re going to do a show for you” fol-de-rol. It’s called “Good Show!” and you’ll hear David Schwartz as Zimmermann kicking it off, with Owen Robbins at the piano. This comes from the 2013 workshop, and the ensemble is comprised largely of Bill Fennelly’s students from Drexel University.

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Only The Best, from Leading Lady (Day 128)

This portrait of Mae Desmond is from the New York Public LIbrary's Theatre Collection

This portrait of Mae Desmond is from the New York Public LIbrary’s Theatre Collection

Mae Desmond and her husband, Frank Fielder, were “icons of Philadelphia theatre,” according to “The A to Z of American Theater,” and I first learned about Mae and Frank from their granddaughter, Mari Kathleen Fielder, who taught theater history at The University of the Arts and had devoted her considerable skills as a scholar to documenting her grandmother’s company. The idea of a musical about an iconic theater couple in Philadelphia captivated me at once, and I enlisted playwright Seth Bauer to help tell their story.

That story begins with an opening number, and this is the first of several I wrote for Leading Lady. This is a sort of “Magic To Do” opening, one designed to introduce the players and the milieu, which in this case is an old-fashioned stock company in Philadelphia a century ago. I was particularly delighted to be able to incorporate words like Shackamaxon and Moyamensing, names of Philly neighborhoods that come from the native American languages spoken by the original inhabitants of this region. The “swellest elocution” lyric is a nod in the direction of my beloved wife, the Speech Diva. This was performed at UArts in the Brind School’s New Play Festival in 2012, with Zack Kononov as Zimmerman, the impresario, and Tom Baust at the piano.

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