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.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Eigg wins "BEST MUSICAL" of 2023

Eigg the Musical recently won four 2023 BroadwayWorld Denver Awards. The annual BWW announcement represents the best in regional productions, touring shows and more. Eigg wins included "Best Musical", "Best New Musical", "Best Director of a Musical" and "Best Supporting Performer in a Musical." BroadwayWorld entries come from regional performances between Oct. 1, 2022, and Sept. 30, 2023. Audiences members and their friends make their selections on an online portal for the best in each category through December 31, 2023. Winners were announced on January 9th, 2024.

“I’m ecstatic and very proud of the work that the cast & crew have done and proud of the show too,” said April Alsup, producer and composer of the new Musical. “The amount of time and effort that goes into a production like this is unreal. To see those efforts acknowledged in a regional and statewide way is really fabulous."

2023 Regional BroadwayWorld Awards 
"The people voting validate that the work we’re doing is high caliber and at an elite level. It acknowledges the hard work that the leadership team have put into developing the show and the performances of the actors.” BroadwayWorld is an international organization that’s broken down in different regions across America, Canada, Central and South America, Europe and Asia. “This is a peoples' choice award and it's really the only theatre award like it in our area, so it’s a big deal,” Alsup said.
Eigg performance at Vintage Theater 
Eigg the Musical was performed at the Vintage Theatre in July 2023. Situated in Scotland's Inner Hebrides, the Isle of Eigg has a fascinating history of sovereignty. Not long ago, the inhabitants of Eigg faced a different type of invader; a celebrity Laird looking to create his Gaelic island utopia. The transfer to community ownership hatched on Eigg is arguably the most captivating example of Scottish land reform. "Our shows were packed at Vintage and it's a good feeling to have your theatre friends support and vote for you," Alsup said.

Monday, November 20, 2023

Bold Journey magazine interview

Here's a link to an online interview I had with Bold Journey Magazine. They ask me about optimism and said that they believe it is the invisible ingredient that powers so much of the incredible progress in society from entrepreneurs and investors to artists and creatives who believe in something and are optimistic enough to risk their time, money, and reputation. I told them; "if you don't have something good to say just don't say it." I think the publication believes we can all learn from each other and they look for stories that will inspire their readers.

Click HERE to learn more.

Tuesday, November 07, 2023

BANNED headed to 2024 Edinburgh Fringe Festival

It was inevitable that "BANNED the Musical" would be performed across the pond someday. Some of our UK peeps come from our relationships with streaming music sites like Spotify, Deezer and Tidal, but the BANNED show has a real universal theatre appeal too and is very relevant with the polarizing discourse around gender and the proliferation of social media these days.

Willow Studio @ Riddles Court

We had a small theatre troupe at Fringe a few months ago with the show "Eigg the Musical" and we were hoping to get a spot in 2024 program. Our dates this year are August 2nd through the 10th. We're part of the evening lineup in Willow Studio @ Riddles Court. It'll be nice to see all our Greenside friends again and meet up with the European folks we know from a far next Summer in Scotland. Stay tuned for more details!

Tuesday, October 03, 2023

World on a string

Autumn is a great time of year for aerial photography. The change of color can be breathtaking in Colorado and the Fall foliage makes way for some excellent pictures. I usually start by powering up the batteries in my drone early in the day and get everything prepared for an early evening photo shoot. This year I headed out to Wallace Park, it's near the interchange of I-225 and I-25 and has a backdrop of the Denver Technology Center and the Colorado Mountains.
Denver Technology Center
Wallace Park at Denver Technology Center

I decided to do something a little different. I wanted to get a picture of a kite flying over a park with the Fall foliage, the high rise buildings and the mountains, but hanging my 360 camera under a kite seemed time consuming and problematic. The solution was to use the drone to carry the camera and add the kite in post, but getting a image of the string of the kite would be a challenge.

Drone Flying at 150 feet above Wallace Park
Drone Flying at 150 feet above Wallace Park

As usual the local Home Depot had a nice solution, but as often is the case, this kind of thing can be a bit trial and error. It was easy enough to find a bright yellow string and a small pully and attach the pulley to the bottom of the drone. Then I fed the yellow string through the pulley and attached the old bullet time string to my old Insta 360 camera and knot them together.

360 Image of kite above Wallace Park
Go fly a kite

I enjoy flying the drone, but in this case I had to manage a lot of different things. I put the Insta 360 in photo interval mode and launched the drone. It was set to take pictures every 60 seconds. The camera was spinning wildly so I wasn't sure how well the images would turn out. Sometimes you just have to wait until you back in your studio to see the results and in this case a lot of the images were blurry.

Insta 360 little world mode of drone on a string
Little world mode of drone on a string

Fortunately I was able to use some of the pictures and the yellow/orange string looked perfect. The Insta 360 software has some cool image modes and I used a fisheye effect on the first image and little world on the second one. I then touched up the images in Adobe Lightroom and used Photoshop to remove the drone and add the kite.

World on a string by April Alsup
World on a string

All in all, I'm happy with the results. The first image was a panoramic image I took using the drone's Hasselblad 1" sensor on an old Mavic 2 pro. The other two were from the Insta 360 and I did some post framing and color correction on them, but it was a fun day for aerial photo content creation before all the leaves drop and Winter time comes in Colorado.

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

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 theatrical 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. I'm not really sure if it's a physical gyro mechanism or done through software, but the results work well for me since I often hang the camera from my drone or some sort of ceiling fixture.

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!

Use you mouse to navigate

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

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.

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Visiting Saint Thomas in Leipzig Germany

In 2019 I visited Saint Thomas Church in Leipzig, Germany. It is probably most famous as the place where Johann Sebastian Bach worked as the music director from 1723 until his death in 1750 and is the current location of his remains. There's so much classical music history in Leipzig and musicians from all over the world travel here to experience the atmosphere. Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Mendelssohn all performed in this place.
April Alsup at Saint Thomas in Leipzig Germany
April Alsup at St Thomas in Leipzig Germany

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Ceilidh dancing for the Eigg show Miss McLeod's Reel

In 2019 I travelled to the Isle of Eigg for a little theatrical research. During the trip I was exposed to the atmosphere at a ceilidh dance and I knew it needed to be integrated into the Eigg show. Over the pandemic I learned to play the accordion and now I can actually play with a ceilidh band. Here's a 360 video of the Eigg cast learning the dance steps to Miss McLeod's Reel. Our dance instructor was Tim Luscombe and he studied dance at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. It was a lot of fun and very informative too.

Friday, March 24, 2023

New media content from Breckenridge Colorado

Every year I meet my brother in Breckenridge Colorado for a family ski vacation. We've been doing it for a long time and it's become a tradition. I was really looking forward to skiing this year, but my back was a little sore from a recent move. At some point I just decided to figure out something else to do during the day and grabbed a few content creation gadgets before heading off to Breckenridge.
Drone launch point and historic main street

A. For the first project, I drove out past the B&B trailhead as far as I could go so I could get a long shot of the city and the ski slopes. Then I launched my drone and sent it up a little over 250 feet to frame up the area through the wooded valley just east of town. My drone has a Hasselblad 1" sensor and can take up to 26 high resolution raw images for a panoramic picture. I used Lightroom to stitch the images together and Photoshop to make the postcard below.
2023 Breckenridge Colorado Postcard
My postcard from Breckenridge Colorado

B. Next, I thought it might be fun to create a 360° immersive video of historic main street, so I placed an old Insta 360 camera on a selfie stick and secured it under the back windshield wiper of my SUV. Then I just drove north on main street with the camera recording 360 video at 4K . You can adjust the speed using the video settings. I've always loved the atmosphere in Breck. It's a pretty neat little town.

360° immersive video from historic main street 

C. Finally, it was up to Hoosier pass for a 360° aerial photo of the continental divide. Once I got to the top of the pass I sent my drone up about 400 feet to get a 360° panoramic picture of the mountains to the east and west and the valley south down to Fairplay and north down to Breckenridge. It's super bright at this altitude and I used a ND16 filter to compensate. I don't think blogger has a VR gadget, so you'll need to select the image below to get the 3D experience. VR headset highly recommended.

Select image above for 360° immersive photo experience

Saturday, March 04, 2023

Information about Eigg the Musical

It's that time of year again, time to put a bow around your latest work and submit it to the plethora of music theater festivals, camps, universities, etc. for the upcoming season. You never know how your show will line up with the vision of the various committees, but by chance this year I saw a post for the Edinburgh Fringe and after a little research, some back and forth eMails, a few phone calls and a pitch we were in. Our show has a real Scottish flavor to it and it'll be a perfect addition for this year's festival. 

For more information select an icon below

A while back a read an article about a small island in the Hebrides called Eigg and the music just started flowing out, which is always a good sign; anyway, I've been working on it with playwright Mark Sbani for quite some time now and we decided to stand it up for the festival. We've setup a news blog and several social media pages/groups for the show (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter) to help people follow along. Pick your favorite one and let us know what you think!

Friday, February 10, 2023

New 2023 Canvas Rebel Interview

Here's a link to a short interview with me and Canvas Rebel Magazine. There has been a lot of activity lately with the Edinburgh festival announcement, but this article is really more about the personal side of music theater projects and offers some of my thoughts for people considering a career path in musical theatre. The interview actually took place last year and is just now getting out there.
2023 Canvas Rebel Interview
I've always found it intriguing to see which parts of these interviews the publisher decides to use. My guess is Canvas Rebel tries to focus on the things that creative people undertake that might inspire others who are working through the same sort of issues and/or circumstances. I think it's nice that they draw attention to the personal side of the creative process and look for things that might help others with their own journey.

Sunday, December 04, 2022

360° video stroll in Central Park New York

Here's an immersive 360° video from Central Park in New York City. I entered the park at Columbus Circle and just took a leisurely stroll with my camera on a selfie stick. It was overcast and the quality of the first generation Insta 360 is what it is, but at the end of the day, I think the video provides a pretty good experience of walking through the Central Park on Thanksgiving weekend this year. I exited the park near the Simón Bolívar statue at 6th and 59th street and it started to rain on my way back to the hotel in midtown.
Map of Central Park 360 Video Paths

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

360° Video of Time Square in New York City

Here are a couple of 360° immersive videos from Time Square in New York City. There are plenty of places to take pictures, but they've added several convenient platforms to the northern and southern ends of the area for taking photos and it's easy to get to the highest point and lift your selfie stick high in the air. It was a good day with mild weather and blue skies peeking through here and there too. The atmosphere in Time Square is very international and a good place to capture the diversity and culture in New York.