Friday, May 17, 2024

Green screens are fun

Chroma keying, is a visual effects technique of putting two or more images together based on their color range. The technique is used to remove a background from the subject of a photo or video. This technique can be referred to as color keying where a green (or blue) screen is used because they differ from the hue of human skin, but at the end of the day no part of the subject should have the color used as the background.

BANNED cast spotted at the Cavern in Liverpool

We recently used a green screen to create a cast announcement for the musical BANNED! Going along with the shows theme of a group of individuals being banned, the green screen technique allowed us to create a "mugshot" of each of the cast members, as well as, to spot the cast in various locations in and around the United Kingdom leading to the Edinburgh fringe festival where the show will debut this Summer.

BANNED! cast announcement

Wednesday, May 01, 2024

Mobile phone prop for BANNED txting

I've always enjoyed making theatre props, especially when it requires technology and a little out of the box thinking. There's a famous story about how Hitchcock placed a battery-operated light within the glass of milk that one of his characters fears is full of poison. The milk glows ominously, emphasizing her suspicions while her motif is played in a minor key. All the characters in Banned! the Musical use their cell phones to txt one another so I wanted to implement the same sort of effect. The timing on these sorts of things is critical so it was important to give each actor the ability to turn on their phone as well as a theater tech the ability to flip all phones on and all phones off.
So it was off to Home Depot to figure out how to make 10 of them. I found some relatively thin puck lights that fit nicely between several electrical wall plates. I used the wall mounting #6 machine screws and a nut to fasten them together. Then I added some foam padding to reduce vibration and stress. Then it was off to the local arts and craft store (Michaels) for some personal design paper with an adhesive backing to differentiate each phone.

Here's a video of the final prototypes working in unison. See you in Edinburgh!

Monday, April 08, 2024

Long ago and far away

I purchased my Real Book in an alley near the Berklee School of Music in 1977 and I've been playing the charts ever since. A few years back I decided to learn to play accordion and found the instrument to be a natural fit for playing jazz standards. The stradella bass system is powerful and I decided to go through the charts and add some songs to the YouTube Channel @accompanists.

Long Ago (and Far Away) is a popular song from the 1944 musical film Cover Girl with Rita Hayworth and Gene Kelly credits to Kern/Gershwin - Real Book circa 1977.

Thursday, April 04, 2024

Edinburgh shoutout for BANNED the Musical

Things have really started to pick up for the 2024 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Last week outdoor advertising became available and this week they added over 1,300 shows to the festival's online ticketing portal. It was a pretty big announcement and they even had a shoutout to Greenside and BANNED at Riddle's Court. With that many venues and performances on the calendar it's hard to get visibility for your show.

2024 Edinburgh Fringe Shoutout for BANNED!

The Fringe's online ticketing system has lots of options and the Fringe organization has been super helpful with explaining all the ins and outs. Our venue is Riddle's Court and the theater is Willow Studio. It has a three quarter thrust stage and roughly 60 seats. We've tried to set the ticket prices at a reasonable price to accommodate everyone who wants to see our show. During the preview week we have all sorts of specials, the weekdays have some special offers too and of course the weekends are crazy. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, March 28, 2024

BANNED Poster Concept

We've been putting the final touches on our marketing plan for BANNED. The process all starts with the creative strategy document, but it sure doesn't stop there. It's important for any campaign to have some sort of basic marketing manifesto, but you still need to be flexible in the tactics. Here are several high level assumptions we made early on:
  • Find an abstract artistic treatment that captures the spectrum of gender, include the use of electronic gadgets and create a modern genderless world.
  • Find a background element that shows gender diversity in the public space and can be reused.
  • Provide elements that show the broad spectrum and various dimensions of gender and speaks candidly to an audience of all ages.
BANNED Poster in four colors
BANNED Poster in four colors
At some point we realized that using color might be a compelling way to individualize each character while maintaining the sense that there is a group of individuals in society that are being marginalized for not abiding by traditional gender norms. We're planning to print and distribute the posters in four different background colors using the original artwork created for the logo. We'll hang them around Edinburgh, the venue and provide signed copies to our donors, friends and family.
BANNED rail board for the 2024 Edinburgh Fringe Festival
BANNED Rail Board Concept
The overall concept worked nicely with our outdoor advertising campaign too. One of the first advertising milestones for the Edinburgh Festival is when outside advertising products become available to the public and this year we were able to snag several rail boards in prominent areas around Edinburgh this year. More to come!

Saturday, February 24, 2024

"When it Rains it Pours" says BANNED Finale

I wrote the single "When it Rains it Pours" (WIRIP) way back in 1985. I always liked the hook and knew one day it would end up in one of my music theatre shows. It's funny how songs you may have written years earlier can fit so well in your newer shows. This song was a perfect fit for the closing song in BANNED the Musical, after all, I was looking for an upbeat song with a great hook. You see in the the closing scene the "Organized Confusions" are reinstated as one of the Musical acts at the "New Horizons" theatre festival and the whole community celebrates that the ban has been lifted on the new groups' show.

It's sort of a toss up how people interrupt the saying "When it Rains it Pours" as a metaphor these days. In our Musical BANNED it's used for bad news and good news, but you'll have to see the show to learn more. 😀

Tuesday, February 06, 2024

BANNED the Musical to debut at Edinburgh Fringe

I enjoy participating in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and it seems like I always find a great team to share the experience with. This year I'm taking the show BANNED and I'm sure it'll all start coming together in May and June. We're staying at the University again and Kelly McAllister is directing the show, he did such a great job with Eigg! You know he won "Best Director of a Musical" from Broadway World for his effort last year. He's planning to start some preliminary readings, choral work, blocking and choreography soon. Creating theatre is truly a godsend and I'm particularly proud of this work. Here's a link to the official BANNED press release.