Writing Wildwood Days
Updated: 4 days ago
A blog by Gary Sironen
Chapter 1 - First Contact It was the middle of the Pandemic: November 2020. Like everyone else, most of my activities were done from home (except for daily walks with my wife to a nearby nature center). I had attended conferences and workshops for playwrights, composers and lyricists in years past, but now, because of the pandemic, I became aware of one that also included directors, choreographers, producers and more, and it was being held online.
One evening of the conference, I received a message from another attendee: Maria was the marketing consultant for singer Bobby Rydell. She was looking for someone to write a promotional piece, maybe a short musical, to help promote Bobby's book, a biography. I responded that I was interested, we talked on the phone, and Maria sent me a CD of Bobby's hits and a copy of his book. She mentioned that she had also approached some other writers.
A few days later, I received the book and CD. I let Maria know I received the items, and we agreed to talk again after the holidays.
Chapter 2 - The Audition In January 2021, I shared my reflections on the book and CD, and some ideas for a full-length musical. We talked about me writing an opening scene to show to Bobby and his wife. My first question was, "Are you still considering other writers, as well?" Maria said, "No, we like your ideas, you're the guy." I pressed further, and she told me they had sent a book and CD to two other prospective writers, neither of whom had replied back to them, but they liked my website and my thoughts on going forward, so I was the only one under consideration.
Lesson learned. The first step to success is simply responding!
Chapter 3 - First Draft By February, I had written and shared the opening scene, which they lover, and I had begun writing additional scenes, some original songs, and selecting a number of Bobby's hits to be included in the production, and I finished a short first draft. The underlying material is a biography written by Bobby Rydell and Allan Slutsky entitled "Bobby Rydell, Teen Idol On the Rocks: A Tale of Second Chances". It is written in the first person, generally in a chronological order of events from Bobby's childhood up to the present, an intriguing story of goals, ambitions, success, heartache, tragedy and triumph. The challenge is to include nearly 250 pages into about 120 minutes, including music.
The second creative challenge was to find songs recorded by Bobby that would be helpful in telling the story. A musical isn't a concert of loosely connected songs, nor a play interrupted by concert numbers; it's a story that uses music, song, choreography and dialogue as tools to keep moving the story forward to a satisfying conclusion. A few songs are actually performed in this musical, but most act as sung-dialogue or connective material to enhance the storyline. Some places in the story demand a song to express emotions or events for which no existing songs fit the bill, and in those spots I wrote songs that are consistent in style with music of the period but deal with specific content needed for the scene.
The purpose of the musical was two-fold: first, to tell an interesting story about a musical icon of the 1960's; and second, to create a high-quality, entertaining work that could have the potential for a life on stage and beyond. The COVID-19 pandemic kept everyone pretty much locked up, so I had plenty of time to write. To help keep me motivated and to also focus on the various business aspects of writing and producing a musical, Maria and I set up weekly phone or Zoom meetings. More about that in the next chapter.
Chapter 4 - Weekly Meetings Maria and I live in different parts of the country, so, thanks to the pandemic and everyone's awareness of Zoom and other online meeting options, we decided to meet weekly virtually (or virtually meet weekly?) to keep each other in the loop on our individual progress. For me, it has been a chance share what I've accomplished each week (I can only tell my spouse so many times), bounce ideas around, and basically feel like I'm not working alone. And Maria is a fount of resources and ideas.
We began to realize that a number of issues involved legal discussions. Maria mentioned that a friend of hers is a real fan of Bobby's music and a lawyer, and he's been interested in ways to help, so we agreed to invite him to join our team. Derry has been a godsend, offering assistance in a number of ways. He and I also found we have a lot in common in our lives outside of business and have become good friends.
Some of the issues we have been dealing with include getting rights to use existing material in a musical play. Of course, I was asked to write the musical based on the book "Bobby Rydell, Teen Idol On the Rocks: A Tale of Second Chances", so it was just a matter of putting this in writing. By the way, it's a terrific book! If you would like to order a copy, you can get it from Amazon.com or order an autographed copy at https://www.bobbyrydell.com/.
There are a number of other rights to secure for a project like this. More on that in the next chapter.