Monday, September 04, 2023

Eigg the Musical in pictures

In my storage space I have all sorts of scrapbooks that my parents would make after they would take a trip. My sense is that these boxes will probably end up in the trash or one of my son's garages someday. Lots of us like to gather up and organize all the pictures and collateral from the shows we've been a part of and put them into a scrapbook. It takes a lot of time to bring a new musical work to the stage and along the way you accumulate all kinds of knick knacks, but these days it's mostly digital or can be easily made to be. Here's my latest one, it's for Eigg the Musical and goes all the way back to 2017. It won't end up in a garage somewhere because it's safe in the cloud...right?
Eigg the Musical in Pictures
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Wednesday, August 30, 2023

360° video sample of Eigg Musical at Riddles Court

I've always wondered how well a 360 degree camera would work for stage performances. The Insta 360 camera is fairly old technology, but it has a gyro mechanism built in to the enclosure that orientates the lens to the proper horizon. Here's the first scene from our show Eigg the Musical at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I used the bullet time string to hang the camera from the chandelier at stage right of the theater. The Greenside @ Riddles court venue is over 500 years old and once held a coronation party for King James V1. Check out the ceiling!

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Thursday, August 10, 2023

Life was meant for good friends and great adventures

In 2019 I visited the tiny Isle of Eigg for a little theatrical research. I stayed at the Glebe Barn and made friends with a group of lovely people from Ayr, Scotland. During the day we explored Massacre caves, the singing sands of Laig Bay and hiked up Mount Squrr to Loch nam Ban Mora. In the evenings we drank scotch and discussed the history of Eigg. One of the members in the group was connected with Keith Schellenberg and later the Island Trust. It was very insightful and had a lot of impact on the Eigg show.
Drinking Scotch and exploring the Isle of Eigg in 2019

Four years and a pandemic later they came to Edinburgh to see the results at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It takes several years to write a full length music theatre work and this one included moments from our visit 4 years earlier. It was so rewarding and truly one of the most meaningful moments of this year's trip to Edinburgh and one I will always cherish.
Good friends at Eigg the Musical in Edinburgh

Sunday, August 06, 2023

Developing the Eigg show's musical score

The Eigg show has been a wondrous musical journey. Early on, I knew we needed to supplement the score with traditional Scottish music and after visiting the island I decided on the instrumentation of the music ensemble (accordion, violin and keyboard). My goal would be to compose and perform the work with the ensemble, I like to call it method composing. I had never played an accordion before, but it felt so natural. Well, I searched the internet and found Sandy Brechin, a Ceilidh accordion maestro from Edinburgh. He knew all about the story of Eigg and of many others too, he'd even performed on the island and knew some of the locals. So over the next year we used the marvels of technology to connect with each other and he helped a lot with my playing.

Sandy Brechin and April Alsup using Skye
On Sunday August 6th we met in person for the first time at Ensign Ewert tavern, a small pub which ironically is a stone's throw from the venue of our show. Then, on the 10th he came to our show I was able to return the favor by performing for him. It was truly a special moment for me. I find traditional Scottish music to be comforting, honest and humble and hope I was able to capture some of it's beauty in our show.

Sandy Brechin with Eigg Ensemble (April, Mark and Cieran)

Friday, August 04, 2023

Cast and Crew of Eigg the Musical

Here's an image of our cast and crew a few minutes before entering the Willow Studio at Riddles Court for our debut (albeit preview) of Eigg the Musical in Edinburgh Scotland. 

Cast and Crew of Eigg the Musical
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Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Eigg troupe press photos

The Eigg show has been in the works for quite some time now and we've decided it's time to unveil our upcoming shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Here's a couple Eigg the Musical troupe photos we shot for the press release. Tracy Holt Doty took the picture during a rehearsal break the last part of June 2023. We were missing a couple of cast members that night since it was early in the process, but I'm sure we'll add plenty of images of the whole team on the Musical's website soon.
Eigg the Musical cast and crew

Eigg the Musical cast and crew

Sunday, July 09, 2023

The process of writing musical theatre

I've been writing music theater works since I was a child and one thing I've learned is no one can give you a blueprint, a formula or a road map. I try to go into the process with an open mind and I sometimes just let the music show the way. My guess is my colleagues would tell you that I'm not the easiest person to work with. I enjoy collaboration, but there are often disagreements. My latest work was developed with Mark Sbani and started quite some time ago.
April Alsup and Mark Sbani
Eigg the Musical writing team April Alsup and Mark Sbani
The intersection between music, dance and storytelling is magical. I'll never forget coming home from Scotland after a little onsite research and discussing how we should retool the whole work. My sense was we needed to set the show within the events of a Scottish ceilidh dance festival. We then focused on just a few highland tales and the traditional music provided the authentic atmosphere we were after. Fast forward through a pandemic, learning to play accordion, a lot of give and take and it all started to come together. Next month we are headed to Scotland to perform our show at the biggest performing arts festival on the planet.