Behind the Scenes – Creating Nora Swan

Behind the Scenes – Creating Nora Swan

In England, nearing the end of World War II, Richard Swan and his wife Nora were in a terrible car accident that claimed his life and left her blind.  It is now 1951, Nora lives in New York City, and an old friend of Richard’s comes into her life with the shocking news that Richard was an OSS Operative and he was in fact, murdered to keep what he knew a secret … and now, those killers were after Nora!  But Why?!?

Hi, Tracy here — I’m back again :).  This time I bring you “Nora Swan: Murder Most Personal”.

But before I can tell you about the making of this little gem, it’s important to bring you up to speed on something else … you see, Judie has always had this … affliction, if you will.  The kind that prevents anyone from wanting to watch movies and tv programs with her, especially murder mysteries.  She inevitably ALWAYS figures out the plot and the who-dun-it within the first 10 – 20 minutes of the program and before she thinks it through, blurts it out, ruining it for the rest of us!  Do not fret friends, we’ve been working on her for some time and I think it is safe to say that she is now a recovering plot-spoiler!

One day, Gary said to her, “why don’t you write a murder mystery and see who gets your plot before you’re ready.”  He was kidding at the time, but the idea stuck with them both and one day, Judie woke from a heavily dream-filled sleep, “I wrote a murder mystery last night,” she says to him over a cup of tea (coffee for him, creamy through an I.V. lol).  There was a time this would have had him giving her the oddest looks, with much confusion and a stammered, “just last night?”  But not now.  The general plot points were shared and the two of them got right to work on filling in all the details and bringing the characters to life.

One day during this creation process, I walked in the office and wound out standing quietly in the back, watching and trying to contain my laughter.  I find them quite amusing.  She was so focused, “no no no, the blood will spatter that way and it’s all wrong,” to which Gary replies, “but if you shoot from this direction then [so and so] is in the way (yes I just censored myself to save the story for you … will wonders never cease lol).  They went on and on about weapons, blood spatter, angles and the like, “bad time?” I asked, to which she replied, “I can’t talk right now, I’m murdering someone.”  I just started to chuckle, thinking “oh I hope homeland security isn’t eavesdropping, they just wouldn’t understand.”

Turns out, they weren’t just plotting murder … in their story that is … they were doing a full scene diagram with little shapes that denoted different types of furniture, little people and moving and placing them about to make sure they got the staging right … that it all made sense.  I hope they saved those little pieces, could be fun years down the road to stumble across them.

In any event, there’s another little snippet for you from behind the scenes with the Judie and Gary hour.  Perhaps next time I’ll delve into a meeting that has Gary on the trampoline, or laying on the floor under the desk all while Judie is … well … flailing :).

Hope you’re having a wonderful day and look forward to working with ya!

All my best,
Tracy Renee

Behind the Scenes – Fractured Follies

Behind the Scenes – Fractured Follies

By special request from The Rosarito Theatre Guild, we created a Vaudeville style “Follies”, added our own wacky sense of humor,and created wonderful new scenes and scenarios featuring music from musicals written by Sapperstein and Murway and voila!… The “Fractured Follies” was born!

Hi, it’s me again, Tracy Renee, VP/CMO of J&G.

Did you know that back in the 1980’s, Judie and Gary were a musical duo, writing their own music and performing at more venue’s in the tri-state area than you could shake a stick at?  Today, some of those songs work their way into their musicals such as Morning Song in Bloomin, but so much more is brand spankin’ new.  By the way, if you clicked to listen to Morning Song, that’s Judie singing.

Music has been at the heart of their collaborations for … well, a long time, but don’t tell Judie I gave away anything about her age 😉 she swears she’s only 23 hehe.

Anyway, we’ve been working with The Rosarito Theatre Guild out of Rosarito California for several years now, a relationship that began when they discovered that our Press Play system enabled them to put on a musical for the first time ever.

After their huge success with Dancer the Footloose Reindeer, Sylvia called and said “you do know you are writing me a new musical for next Christmas, right?”  and Santa’s Other Reindeer was born.  Far be it for Judie to miss an opportunity to fill a need :).

While Santa was still being written though, Sylvia contacted Judie and started talking about how easy our works were to perform, and how amazing it was that she’s able to pack her theatre full when she performs our works.  She wanted to know what else we had that wasn’t for the Christmas season, something simple to perform with a small cast size but that could include many more people if they chose.

As is wont to happen with a mind like Judie’s, the new show started instantly unfolding in her head, but we’d had a meeting just the day before about “no new musicals till we finish what we’re working on now!”  The next thing I hear is the shout through the studio, “Oh No, I’ve Brainstormed and I can’t make it Stop!”  Gary and I looked at one another, shook our heads with a chuckle and all we could seem to say was, “here we go again.”  And though not yet named, that was the moment that Follies was born.

Keep in mind, it’s summer 2014.  We’re still working on Santa — finishing the music, the Press Play CD, the performance versions of the music, the demo versions of the music and doing script clean-up and here we are with something new that needed to be done and ready to send to Sylvia for the 2015 summer season.  We discussed how to make another musical in time (Judie just can’t help herself lol) … and still finish off Santa’s Other Reindeer for the up coming Holiday season.

And it hit them, “lets make it a follies” they said at about the same moment.  It always fascinates me to see how their minds work so well together.  “A funny skit-based show that could easily be broken down into demo performances so that theatrical groups could perform snippets ‘around town’ to garner more interest, and instead of writing new music that we just don’t have time to do right now, we’ll work music from our existing musicals into it.”  It was brilliant, so much so I had to add, “you know, when a theatre wants to also do one of our other musicals, it ties their season together nicely and they can use Follies as a marketing tool for whats to come, or a recap tool for what just happened.”  We’re always looking ways to help theatre’s fill seats!

Well, I’ve rambled quite a bit on this story, so sorry, thank you for your patience and for reading it through.  I hope you enjoy these behind the scenes moments from here at J&G and that Follies brings you joy and keeps your toes a tappin’!

All my best,
Tracy Renee

Behind the Scenes – Unspeakable!

Behind the Scenes – Unspeakable!

This is the story of a family with a history steeped in the fire of war and the heartache of loss as they discover the importance of learning who they are by coming to know and understand who and where they came from…No matter how UNSPEAKABLE it may be!

UNSPEAKABLE! has a hint of the supernatural and a powerful message artfully crafted to bring tears to your audiences’ eyes while not letting them leave the theater depressed.

Over the years, many of you have said to me, “let me know when you have a powerful, serious drama.”  Well, this is that day my friends.

I’ve read it myself, and listened to the live read-through’s.  After the first read-through, I called it a 7-tissue piece (that’s how many tissues I needed for just the tail-end of it).

And then Judie calls me one afternoon, sobbing her heart out.  I thought something was seriously wrong and was ready to speed over to rush someone to the hospital.

Thankfully that was not the case.  Apparently, she’d just finished some reworks and edits of this piece to polish it and implement feedback from directors who had critiqued it for us … and she just couldn’t contain the emotion of it.

The thing that fascinates me the most with this work though, is not only do you get the intrigue and suspense of mystery; a sense of anger as you watch the jerk of the story trying to tear the family home apart out of greed; the pain of loss due to the unspeakable death of a child; the anxiety of regret and the spookiness of the hint of the supernatural (all the rage these days) — but in the end, somehow, Judie and Gary manage to leave you with a watery smile.

The audience is left with a feeling of hope and a sense that while something truly UNSPEAKABLE has happened, their is hope for the future.  Out of all darkness some good must come.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!  I just wish I could send you the tissues through email as well 😉

All my best,
Tracy Renee