A guest blog entry from Michael Shaieb, writer of The Astonishing Return of… The Protagonists! to be presented at this year’s Festival of New Musicals.
About fifteen years ago when I graduated from the NYU Graduate Musical Theatre Writing program, I was faced with the reality of what I would do for a living. I had some recording equipment and thought that perhaps I could start a recording studio. When I met my partner, Brent Lord, who had the technical knowledge, we formed a company which later became FatLab Music. We specialized in recording demos for music theatre writers and performers.
When I began writing The Protagonists with my collaborator, Kevin del Aguila, the question was how do we record our show to convey the different stylistic choices we created for our world. The Protagonists contains a world of
funk, classic pop and epic superhero music. It’s difficult to showcase this on just a piano. So as Kevin and I were writing, I built the song tracks using the many tools of my trade to create the demo that we have today.
As far as the vocals go, we invited our actors in separately and recorded them one at a time which gave us more flexibility during the mixing process. And because it’s our own space, we have the leisure of taking the time we need since we’re not on the clock at another studio.
Regarding the use of instruments, real or sampled, I always ask the question “Can a listener understand the world of the show with just a piano?” Believe me, I would prefer the ease of doing a demo with just piano and vocals. But when the style of the show is also a character, I think that the extra time and effort is definitely worthwhile.
So here we are, demo in hand, about to showcase The Protagonists at NAMT. We are very thankful for this opportunity. I have to admit, my favorite thing is being in the recording studio, and I’m very excited to share our demo with everyone.