This month we caught up with Michael Kooman and Chris Dimond about their 2014 Festival show The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes. The show recently had its world premiere at Village Theatre, and released a cast album, which is now available for purchase. In addition to …Howard Barnes, the pair also penned the 2011 Festival show Dani Girl.
What was the post Festival response to The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes when you presented the show in 2014?
Oh, you know, people were rioting in the streets, starting political revolutions and such. It was like The Rite of Spring, if The Rite of Spring were an abbreviated, 45-minute musical. 🙂
Seriously though, we had a lot of fantastic responses to the Festival presentation. We learned a ton about the show by presenting it in that manner, and the experience generated a number of opportunities for both the show itself, and for our broader careers. In fact, one of the reasons we ended up getting hired to write the songs for VAMPIRINA is because two Disney executives saw that presentation.
…Howard Barnes had its world premiere at Village Theatre last year—how did the production go, and what was the most exciting part of getting to put the show on its feet?
The Village production was the culmination of the eight-year journey we’ve gone on with this show, and it was absolutely thrilling. It’s a show for a big cast and Village gave us all the resources we needed to make this show come to life. Plus, we had an absolutely fantastic team to collaborate with. It was a complete joy to be in the room from beginning to end.
It’s always thrilling to watch a show come to life on stage, but for us the most exciting part is how much the show itself grows through the process. We learned a ton during the production process, and the show improved immensely as a result.
One of our favorite parts of the process are the challenging rewrites that have to happen as a show moves from the page to the stage. For instance, in tech we discovered that we had a 30-second scene change that needed to be covered right after the second song. We had a day to write something that felt necessary and fun and that didn’t just mark time. It ended up being one of our favorite moments of the show, and it all came out as a result of the process of being in production and learning what the show needs in order to be fully realized on stage. (It’s the last half of track two on the album, if you’d care to listen further…)
You have a cast album that dropped this Fall! Why did you make the decision to produce the album, and what did the production process look like?
At a certain point during rehearsals, we were like “Uhm…we need to preserve this. It’s too much fun.” So we did just that: the day after closing we went in the studio, while the energy was still fresh, and birthed this cast album. We were blown away by the talent and artistry of the actors and musicians from Seattle, and we’re happy to have captured for posterity them on this recording.
Why should everyone get their cast album now?
Because Lord knows we’re paying our rent with the .0067 cents per play we get on Spotify.
But really, particularly for NAMT members and writers, this is the kind of show with an enormous number of theatre “easter eggs” in it. (True theatre nerds may want to look out for our favorite, a reference to a certain line from The Sound of Music about what Maria “caahn’t face”).
It’s a show that both celebrates and makes fun of theatre, in addition to being the journey of a man coming to terms with his vulnerability and finding the music and joy in his life. I think we can all use a little more of that these days…
How can members interested in …Howard Barnes’ next steps get involved with the show now?
Anyone interested in the show can reach out to us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.