Thursday, September 27, 2012

The show is at 7:00, not 8:00!

Steppin' Out will be performed on October 27 at 7:00, not 8:00 as was previously posted.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Steppin' Out a little more in NYC

I just got word that the producer of the Steppin' Out: Joe Jackson's Night and Day NYC cabaret on October 27th wants to expand the show's duration. This is going to allow us to add in a few songs I really hated to cut, including "Cancer," "Chinatown," and "Glamour and Pain."

Also, we're taking advantage of the workshop environment to try some new material never before included in the show. I've always thought that Joe's 2007 album Rain was thematically very close to being Night and Day III. With that in mind, we're going to add "King Pleasure Time" to Steppin' Out, for this iteration at least. Time permitting, we may consider adding another song or two, such as Invisible Man or Rush Across the Road. I'd love to hear JJ fans' thoughts.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

"Steppin' Out" in New York City!


John Daniel Forslund Productions will be hosting a Cabaret showcase of Steppin' Out: Joe Jackson's Night and Day at the Underground in New York City on October 27, 2012 at 7:00 PM.

The show will feature NYC-based musical theatre performers as well as the core trio from the two previous iterations of the show: musical director/pianist Andrew Hamm, bassist Philip Hamm, and drummer Adam Young. A showcase rather than a full production, it will feature 45 minutes of Steppin' Out's best material, including Jackson favorites "Steppin' Out," "Breaking Us in Two," and "Real Men," as well as new classics "Love Got Lost" and "Stranger than You."
 
The Underground is located at 955 West End Ave., just off of Broadway on the Upper West Side. Seating in this intimate space is limited, so reserve your tickets now by emailing reservations.steppinout@gmail.com. If there is enough demand, a second show may be added. I'm thrilled to be able to mount an iteration of the piece that Joe's many fans in the New York City area will be able to see. Let's pack the house and start getting some buzz for a full New York City production of the show!

The Steppin' Out cabaret is a must-see for devotees of musical theatre and Joe Jackson fans alike. Come see the acclaimed show that critics have hailed: "a hot evening of cool songs performed by a kickin’ band" ... "the concept is inspired and the performances are fabulous"  ... "pushing the creative envelope" ... "a great way to spend a summer's night."

EDIT: The show is at 7:00, not 8:00 as previously posted.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Musical theatre versus theatrical music

There are a few people in RVA whose presence in the audience of a show I'm doing excites me just a bit more. Dave and Liz White, Stacie Rearden Hall, Maura Burroughs, and several other sometime collaborators always guarantee an erudite discussion of the craft of theatre after the show, and the only thing I love as much as creating art is discussing the creation of art. In the same vein, when David Timberline sees a show I've directed I get a little extra-excited to see what he's going to say. His criticism is always intelligent, always fair, and always invites discussion.

Dave saw Joe Jackson's Night and Day last night. No fair sitting in the front row, by the way (though that wasn't nearly as distracting as Tim Kaine striking up a conversation with me ten seconds before my entrance last Sunday. Turns out Tim and Anne are huge Joe Jackson fans. Who knew?). Dave's take on the show was published on his blog this afternoon. As is so often the case with his writing, it got my mind whirling with deep thoughts and counter-arguments. And that's what this blog is for, friends.

"Concert musical" is the term I've been using to describe JJND for the past few months, and I've never been entirely happy with it. Dave's reaction to the show's lack of narrative brought my dissatisfaction home, and hard. Celia Wren eloquently described the piece in the Times-Dispatch a couple weeks ago thus: "Built around an onstage band, Hamm's production wasn't a play per se. Rather, he drew out, expanded and interlinked narrative elements in Jackson's albums, turning the songs into musical scenes and sketches featuring recurring characters. A principal storyline, concerning a New York-based songwriter striving to capture the city's energy in a catchy tune, added unity."

Finally this week, words that resonate came to mind: Joe Jackson's Night and Day isn't musical theatre. It's theatrical music.

The reason this terminology is so important is evident in Dave's completely reasonable response to the show's lack of through-lines. In coming from a theatrical standpoint, he walked into the theatre with storytelling, character-fulfilling expectations that the material not only doesn't meet, but doesn't even care about. The comparison with Tommy is telling and, in my humble opinion, quite mistaken; Tommy is in absolutely no way a "concert musical;" it's an entirely traditional book musical that just happens to have rock music at its core. It's full of dialogue songs, storyline, and characters with beginnings, middles, and ends. Joe Jackson's Night and Day makes no attempt at any of these things.

Expecting JJND to have the same aesthetic resonance as a play is like reading a collection of Chekhov short stories and expecting them to result in a novel, or like seeing David Mamet's New York Stories and expecting them to result in Glengarry Glen Ross. The best theatrical analogue to JJND that I can think of is Neil Simon's The Good Doctor, a collection of short plays based on Chekhov stories and linked together by a Writer character who has several monologues and acts as a narrator. But even that isn't quite right, because the scenes in The Good Doctor are all little plays in and of themselves, with traditional storytelling narrative. A better example would be Randall Kenan's short story collection Let the Dead Bury Their Dead, which I'm fairly certain no one I know has ever read, making it a moot instance. But trust me, it's good.

Songs are like short fiction or poetry in that they don't have any requirement to tell story, only to create imagery. I hate hate hate jukebox musicals, and the thing that distinguishes JJND from jukebox musicals is that it very specifically refuses to shoehorn story and character development into the material in order to spoon-feed connective tissue to the audience. JJND is still in development, and has changed a lot in the past 12 years, but it will never ever ever have an over-arching story, nor will the characters go from point A to point Z. Instead, we see sketches of lives, point D through J, L through M, R through V.

We are creating something unique with Joe Jackson's Night and Day, and it is as much a challenge to the audience as it has been to the artists. We welcome the challenge, even if it means that the show occasionally hits audience members bonk on the brain a bit. I'm glad that the show's critics have had questions and disagreements with our choices, because they will help us grow the show for October's New York showcase, as well as future iterations. And I love talking about the craft of theatre!

For now, we have two shows left and limited seats. I invite you to let the show wash over you like songs, not like scenes. Come out to Joe Jackson's Night and Day and see what all the fuss is about.

Dave Timberline: JJND is "pushing the creative envelope".

From Dave T's Richmond VA Theater Blog:

A Night of Night and Day


It’s not unusual for me to leave a production I’ve enjoyed with a bit of a crush. That’s part of the joy of plays, movies, TV, even dance in my opinion: someone you see grabs your eye and something they do captures your heart. Even though I’m a straight guy, my crushes aren’t always young women: I left “All Fall Down” on Monday with a little crush on Matt Shofner, both times at “Spring Awakening” I was enamored with the couple of Wendla and Melchior as played by Ali Thibodeau and Oliver Houser.

I took in Joe Jackson’s Night and Day at Richmond Triangle Players last night and came away with a new infatuation with Rebecca Muhleman, one of five very talented singers that populate Andrew Hamm’s world premiere brainchild. Whether standing stridently at center stage or bopping around seemingly overcome with love of the music, Ms. Muhleman is an electric presence in this so-called concert musical. Her shock of white blond hair, dramatic eyes, and imposing physicality are complemented by an expressive voice that adds all sorts of nuance to familiar JJ songs like “Dear Mom” and especially “Breaking Us in Two.” Her energy bubbled up and overflowed at different times, making her the engine that powered the action through much of the show.

That’s not to say she was the only shining star on the Triangle Players stage. All of the other singers – Augustin Correro, Keydron Dunn, Anne Carr Regan, Liz Blake White and Mr. Hamm himself – all had moments of star power in this production. I was most entertained by Dunn, particularly in his second act rant, “Cancer.” I was enthralled by White in the pensive “Why,” while also loving her great duets with Correro in “Real Men” and “Glamour and Pain.” Regan steps to the fore in “Love Got Lost,” a strong song that she infuses with passion.

It’s hard to know what exactly to call JJND – I guess concert musical makes sense, though the thread of something like a story here is not even as strong as other pretty loose concert musicals like “The Who’s Tommy” or Green Day’s “American Idiot.” I like the general premise – the “songwriter” played by Hamm seems to be imagining the characters in his songs, mostly people from the streets of New York, each with their specific quirks and vocations – White is a prostitute, Dunn a homeless guy, Correro an art student perhaps with maybe a night-time propensity for cross-dressing. As he writes their songs, he apparently wills them into being and we see their stories play out before us. Particularly with some of Jackson’s more compelling songs – faves like “Chinatown” or “Another World” – it’s easy to imagine the swirl of street life, the bustle of New York and the inherent drama of life there.

A few things hamper the show as conceptualized, in my opinion. One is that most of the characters aren’t give through-lines – Regan plays a NYC tourist but then reappears as a character otherwise undefined. You can kind of develop a full-fledged character for Correro but it’s not inherent in the material and it’s a bit of a drag to have to second-guess what the intention is. The other thing is that there isn’t really enough connective tissue to make the stories all work together. For instance, the songwriter and his relationship with his girlfriend (Muhleman) is encapsulated solely within “Breaking Us in Two,” a great song but not as complete as say Billy Joel’s “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” in terms of background, conflict and conclusion. I loved the scene but it didn’t make for a complete theatrical trajectory. The finale is ultimately a self-centered one: the songwriter finally gets his one problematic song to work – “Steppin Out” – which makes for a rousing conclusion but again, not quite a dramatically satisfying one in terms of incorporating any of the other stories.

Finally, there seems to be a certain urge toward completism that doesn’t necessarily serve the show. “T.V. Age” is a fine song and I loved the closed circuit broadcast accompaniment (could that coquettish little scamp be Annella Kaine???) but I didn’t see how it fit in this show with these characters. I understand the show spans two of Joe Jackson’s album but it’s somewhat arbitrary from a dramatic standpoint that all of the songs had to be included.

Still, if your expectations are set appropriately – a hot evening of cool songs performed by a kickin’ band – the performance is not lacking for anything. The addition of strings in the form of violin (played by Seamus Guy) and cello (Michael Knowles) is inspired and really raises the musicality to another level. I agree completely with John Porter that the percussion is often overwhelming and could stand to be scaled back, even though I loved the licks Adam Young was pulling on the drums and Jake Allard’s percussion – whether on congas or plastic drum – was energizing.

Probably most of all, Hamm’s perseverance in getting this world premiere up and running, then going the distance in delivering a thoroughly entertaining evening of music, deserves to be roundly applauded. The concept is inspired and the performances he and codirector Stacie Rearden Hall get out of their cast are fabulous. Richmond is lucky to have talented people like Hamm pushing the creative envelope, not to mention giving an old guy like me the chance to relive the joy of discovery of Joe Jackson’s stirring and sophisticated song-craft. Bravo, Andrew!

Friday, August 10, 2012

John Porter: " 'Joe Jackson's Night and Day' Rocks Richmond Triangle Players"

From John Porter's Blog:

Joe Jackson's Night and Day Rocks Richmond Triangle Players

“One of the things I love best about Country Music,” a young Ray Charles answered a reporter, “is the stories the music tells.” Joe Jackson’s Night and Day, a world premiere now running at Richmond Triangle Players has nothing to do with country music, but it tells some of the most compelling stories and the appreciative audience on opening night hung on nearly every musical phrase and savored the experience for every second of the production.

Joe Jackson’s Night and Day is the brainchild of Andrew Hamm, a dedicated musician as well as actor, writer, and director. Hamm has done much more than string together some of Jackson’s music; he has crafted them in such a way as to tell the story of New York through the eyes of several different people. These are songs of innocence and songs of experience to steal titles from William Blake. And like the visionary that Blake was, Jackson has a way of looking at the darker side of his world and transcending it to the heavens.

Hamm not only crafted the show but serves as the musical director, a character within the play, and co-director with Stacie Rearden Hall. That’s one dedicated obsessive fan. Apparently the show has been percolating in his fertile imagination for a number of years and he finally has it ready to share with the world.

I think the play is a solid work-in-progress that is almost ready to be released with perhaps a few adjustments. Let’s consider the pros of the production first.

The music is wonderful; building on two of Jackson’s best albums – Night and Day and Night and Day II. The first album lived in my cassette deck for a long time, until the tape stretched too thin and snapped. This of course was in the days before compact discs. It has since been replaced. Hamm has chosen several songs that set the mood beautifully and his cast performs admirably.

Which brings us to the second pro; the cast and band. The singers include the aforementioned Hamm as well as Augustin J. Correro, Kedron Dunn, Rebecca Anne Muhleman, Anne Carr Regan, and Liz Blake White. Each has more than one moment to shine and they make the most of it. Real standouts for me include “Stranger Than You” featuring Hamm, Correro, and Muhleman; “Chinatown” featuring Dunn, the duet of Correro and White on “Real Men”; “Cancer” again featuring Dunn, and the poignant duet between Hamm and Muhleman on “Breaking Us In Two” could make a statue tear up. I do wish that Regan had been able to solo more, although her take on “Another World” was jubilant and over the top fun. Even a member of the audience got pulled into that number.

The band featured a number of very good musicians including Jake Allard on percussion – mainly congas. He was joined by Adam Young on drums with Philip Hamm on bass to complete the rhythm section. They were joined by Michael Knowles on cello and Seamus Guy on violin. I was surprised by the string section as they added so much especially considering that live strings are often replaced by synthesized ones. The one issue I had with the band was the increased volume in an intimate space. The drums especially were overpowering and often took focus away from the singers.

I was also a little fuzzy on Hamm’s initial concept. At the beginning we see Hamm, as Jackson – or at least someone very much like Jackson – working out the song “Stepping Out.” Once he is seated at his keyboard, the other musicians enter and are mostly in the back, except for the strings. As Hamm rarely makes any eye contact with the musicians except to count time or to end a song, I’m not sure if the musicians are meant to be in the mind of Jackson as he’s imagining the music or something else. We see the creation of the music, but not what created the image.

The set is a representation of a New York street complete with homeless people and piles of stuff. The set is designed by T. Ross Aitken and it makes the most of the small surroundings. Kay Renee designed the costumes which are especially good on Regan’s “Another World” and anything featuring Dunn. The lights by David White were mostly good, although I could do without the strobe effects. I also like Deanna Danger’s choreography on “Dear Mom.” I’m not sure if Hamm or co-director Hall did the other choreography, but that is one area that needs to be beefed up a little more. The stage pictures are nice, but sometimes the movement leaves a little to be desired.

Joe Jackson’s Night and Day will have a limited run as it gears up for a Producer’s Showcase in New York and the work is a great way to spend a summer’s night.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

JJND in NYC

Still warm from the glow of last night's triumphant opening, it is my enormous pleasure to announce that Joe Jackson's Night and Day is getting a shot in the city that inspired its creation.

On October 27, 2012, a 45-minute cabaret showcase of material from Joe Jackson's Night and Day will be produced by JD Productions as part of their N.E.W. Musicals series. Five singers will be cast in New York City, and I will travel up there for the first weekend in October to teach and rehearse music. The cast will rehearse with pre-recorded tracks for the next couple weeks, culminating in a performance of the show on Saturday the 27th, backed by the trio of musicians who have been there from the beginning: me on piano, Philip Hamm on bass, and Adam Young on drums.

The goal is to use this opportunity to invite industry professionals to get a look at the piece and hopefully see its potential as a piece of large-scale commercial theatre. So if you have any NYC theatre production connections, by all means tell them about the show.

I'm especially excited that JJ fans from the northeast who may not have been able to travel all the way to Central Virginia to see JJND will have this opportunity to see a version of what we've been doing. If we sell enough tickets, they may even add another show.

Meanwhile, back in RVA, the show has opened to an electric reception. Only seven opportunities left to see it, and plenty of tickets left. People who saw the show Wednesday are already buying tickets to see it again. Click over to Richmond Triangle Players' website and reserve your seats now! Spread the word and bring a friend. The only thing missing from the show is you in the audience.

Remember, August 11 is a special show with a bonus third set of music to celebrate Joe Jackson's birthday. This is a FREE mini-concert after JJND is over, so stick around after the show or come join us at around 10:15 if you're doing something else Saturday night!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Opening this week!

After years of development, months of rehearsal, and ten days of exhausting, exacting blocking and tech, Joe Jackson's Night and Day is finally set to receive its professional world premiere at Richmond Triangle Players this week. The show has come together into something that looks better, sounds better, and feels better than I imagined it would. The cast, band, and crew have all done amazing work in pulling together a cohesive piece of concert theatre. But the person I want to single out is Stacie Rearden Hall.

Stacie is an artist with whom I have always found collaboration to be effortless when it needed to be easy, challenging when I needed to be pushed. She has a natural gift for big-picture thematic and visual thinking; we look forward to seeing the same TV shows, movies, and plays so we can talk about them for hours, if not days, afterward. We often agree on aesthetics, and just as often don't, and damned if every time she disagrees with me she doesn't half change my mind.

When the time came to find an associate director, someone to take over the visuals of the show once I was stuck behind a keyboard stage right, Stacie was the only person I thought of. She entered into this project with a lot of questions about what it was going to be, and very few answers were forthcoming in the early days as we worked exclusively on music. When the time finally came for her to step up and guide the visual apsect of the show, she was not long in taking charge. While driving home with her after the first blocking session last Monday evening, I noticed a smile on her face, a tone of her voice, and a glow in her energy that I remembered very clearly from my own life, after rehearsals for the first works I directed. There is no feeling of exalted humility like directing excellent artists, seeing them apply their craft and individuality to your vision because they believe in it and you believe in their ability to realize it. No other aspect of theatre production has made me say "This is the ONLY thing I EVER want to do again" like directing has, and I've seen that look on Stacie's face and heard it in her voice over the past two weeks.

Much like the music rehearsal process, where each new amazing touch the strings brought to the table meant I needed to play less and less on the piano, Stacie's increasingly fearless and clearheaded input has allowed me to step back more and more each day. In the final analysis, her status as "associate director" has proven to be a misnomer. She's a full partner in the process of visioning this show. When you read the program, you'll see the following credit: "Directed by Andrew Hamm and Stacie Rearden Hall." I hope that, in a theatre community whose diversity doesn't extend to hiring emerging and/or female directors nearly enough, Stacie's name begins to appear as a directing credit.

Finally, I want to give an affectionate shout-out here to the cast and crew of the unsung heroes of this process: the 2004 cast and crew of the Joe Jackson's Night and Day workshop, performed at the RF&P Forum at the Science Museum of Virginia: associate director Matthew Ellis, bandmates Becca Bernard (cello), Joe Evans (percussion), Philip Hamm (bass), Anna Sosa (violin), and Adam Young (drums), singers Brad Brubaker, Tonia Camanella Ellis, Eric Fletcher, Lorri Lindberg, Karen Moody, Catherine Nelson, Julia Rigby, TV face Sally Dae Courtois, stage manager Jo Bachman, lighting designer Andy Waters, sound designer Tim Crews, lapdance choreographer Tonia, facilities mnanager Barry Hayes, and my thesis committee of Lorri, Melanie Richards, and the inestimable Dr. Noreen Barnes. All the above had a huge hand in the development of this process and narrative.

We open Wednesday. Leave your socks at home or they'll just get rocked off.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Richmond Times-Dispatch feature on "Joe Jackson's Night and Day"

Celia Wren, one of my favorite theatre writers in the world, has written a wonderful piece about Joe Jackson's Night and Day that was featured in Sunday's Richmond Times-Dispatch. I love that Celia does a far better job describing the show's aesthetic than my rambling attempts ever do. Check it out!

World premiere concert-musical for Richmond Triangle Players


Never underestimate the power of a hand-me-down: That's a lesson you could draw from the latest exploit by local thespian Andrew Hamm.

In 1995, when Hamm was an undergraduate at Virginia Commonwealth University, he received a used turntable and a slew of old albums from his brother, Philip. As a more or less direct result of that acquisition, Andrew Hamm conceived, and is now directing and performing in, a world premiere concert-musical: "Joe Jackson's Night and Day," running at Richmond Triangle Players Wednesday through Aug. 18.

Those cast-off records included "Night and Day" and several other albums by Joe Jackson, the rock/pop musician known for hit songs "Is She Really Going Out with Him?" and "Steppin' Out."

"I instantly fell in love with his music," Hamm remembers, remarking on Jackson's flair for conjuring up people and anecdotes in song. "He had a great ability to tell character stories that were snarky and affectionate at the same time."

In subsequent years, Hamm made an effort to catch Jackson on tour and was impressed by the theatricality
of the rocker's concerts. A show might feature instrumentalists in costume, and Jackson might make an entrance with a conspicuous prop, such as a suitcase.

An enthusiast of theater and music, Hamm was naturally inclined to appreciate such rock-drama hybrids.

He grew up in New Jersey and Virginia and earned a bachelor's degree in theater performance from VCU in 1996. A multi-instrumentalist, he spent time after college in New York, where he wrote music for an album he titled "Strange Education."

In 2000, Jackson released "Night and Day II," a follow-up to 1982's "Night and Day." After catching the "Night and Day II" tour in New York, Hamm found himself brainstorming staging techniques that might further underscore the drama in Jackson's music.

When Hamm returned to VCU for a master's degree in theater pedagogy — he received his degree in 2005 — he thought about creating a concert-musical version of the two "Night and Day" albums as his dissertation project. He contacted Jackson's manager, Michael Maska, who supported the idea, even helping Hamm secure permissions.

Built around an onstage band, Hamm's production wasn't a play per se. Rather, he drew out, expanded and interlinked narrative elements in Jackson's albums, turning the songs into musical scenes and sketches featuring recurring characters.

A principal storyline, concerning a New York-based songwriter striving to capture the city's energy in a catchy tune, added unity.

A workshop version of the show, with a volunteer cast, received two performances at the Science Museum of Virginia.

Hamm went on to other theater work: He has acted and directed on local stages and he served for a time as Richmond Shakespeare's associate artistic director. But he couldn't put the Jackson project behind him and eventually started exploring a professional production.

Maska again gave his endorsement. "It's a win situation for everyone," the manager said, pointing out that Hamm's show could introduce Jackson's music to new audiences.

Besides, he said, "Joe is very supportive of the arts overall. He likes musicals. He likes theater." (Indeed, Maska added, Jackson is working on a musical about the life of "Dracula" author Bram Stoker).

When Hamm approached Richmond Triangle Players with the "Night and Day" idea, the company's artistic director, John Knapp, was interested.

"It felt like a good fit, in size and in scope," Knapp said in an email, pointing out that RTP has experience nurturing new work, having hosted a workshop production of Julie Fulcher-Davis' musical "Company of Angels" in 2010.

Hamm, who performed in the play-with-music "This Beautiful City" at RTP last year, believed "Joe Jackson's Night and Day" has found the right home: RTP's mission focuses on works relevant to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities, and in the new concert-musical, "as with a lot of Joe's work, there (are) a lot of gender issues and identity issues."

Hamm will be playing keyboards in the six-piece band that's central to "Joe Jackson's Night and Day."

And on the bass will be his brother, Philip, who accidentally sowed the seeds for the concert-musical all those years ago.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

You really can't miss this show!

Things have gone incredibly well today during tech rehearsal. I can't wait for opening night of the show. I can't really but it any other way than don't miss this show. No really, it's a must see.


As I promised earlier, here is some more sneek-peek footage from today's rehearsal.












Things are really coming together!

So far things have really been really kicking off here as tech rehearsal gets underway. Lighting is evolving beautifully, sound is great, and stage blocking is on its way. Things are really coming together!

Here is a seek peek of how the day has been going so far. If you like what you see, be sure to check back in a little later today for more rehearsal progress.












Tech today!

 This is it. Today is tech rehearsal, the day we incorporate costumes, lighting, audio/video, and all the other technical aspects of the show. This is the day is all comes together.

Our dear friend Ashlee Parnell is going to be joining us for the day, and she's going to be liveblogging the rehearsal. So tune in here and on the Facebook event page for photos and video all day!

We open on Wednesday, friends! And there is a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT coming soon concerning the Joe Jackson's Night and Day project's future...

Friday, July 27, 2012

John Porter interview on JJND!

Check out John Porter's blog, wherein he interviews associate director Stacie Rearden Hall and myself about the show. Opening in less than two weeks!!!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

More fabulous backers revealed!

The honor roll of Joe Jackson's Night and Day Kickstarter backers continues! There are still 20 days left to add your name to the list, friends!

John Nyman
Will Vehrs
Robert M. Gantt
Andrea Kalfoglou
Velocity Comics in Richmond, VA
Donna Thrift
David Timberline
Chris Hester
Chris Donahue
Tracy Kellum Simpson
Randolph L. Newton
Andreas Wostrack
Bart Grantham
Dave Hummell
Paul Baker
Jennifer Drake
Stacey Mills
Stephanie Kelley
Susan Haubenstock
Lori Humm
Charles Carr
Gary Trahan
Sera Tabb
Rawn Gandy

Keep it coming, supporters! August 8 is only six weeks away!
 

Kickstarter success!

Last night, Joe Jackson's Night and Day's Kickstarter campaign met its minimum goal of $3000.

With 20 days to go until our deadline.

Wow.

An incredible and humbling array of family members, friends, colleagues, total strangers, and old flames (yes, plural) combined to make this happen in just over one week. Each and every one has received a tweet of thanks from @andrewjhamm, and the full list will appear here when the campaign is done. All I can say is thank you, and that I recognize the love and faith implicit in such generosity. We're making you all a hell of a show.

The Kickstarter goal has been met, but our fundraising goals have not been. Not yet. The Kickstarter campaign is only half of the minimum budget needed to produce the show, and we have had several local fundraising setbacks in the past month.We still need about $1500 to meet our budget and pay for all these musicians, designers, and technical requirements. In truth, I'd like to make substantially more, as the musicians and singers are making rather a pittance considering they started working on the show in March.

Kickstarter will continue to receive donations through July 13th, and if you're a fan from a distance that's a great way to help us out! Bear in mind, of course, that Kickstarter and Amazon take a small cut of your donation. If you want every penny to go straight to the show, you can write a check to Richmond Triangle Players with "Joe Jackson" in the memo line and mail it to:

Richmond Triangle Players
PO Box 6905
Richmond, VA 23230

Better still, email me at andrewjhamm@verizon.net to talk about how I can bring an hour of live music into your living room for an in-house fundraiser for you and your most musically-inclined friends.

Again, thanks for all the support.

Today, we are performing a trio of songs from Joe Jackson's Night and Day at Richmond CultureWorks' Cultsha Xpo. We'll be hitting the Rotunda stage at 11:30 with three songs from Night and Day: "Another World," "Breaking Us in Two," and of course "Steppin' Out." We hope to see you Central Virginians there, but if you miss it tune back in later today for the exclusive video!

Oh, and here's a bonus, designed with the invaluable assistance of Sarah Jamillah Johnson:


Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Kickstarter campaign is a smash!

Three days into our Kickstarter campaign to raise $3000, we've already had 18 backers commit $915 to the project. It's possible that I shot too low, but we needed to be safe. Kickstarter only awards you funds if you meet your target number; any less and you get zero. However, if the pledges exceed $3000, we will receive the overage! Bear in mind that the Kickstarter campaign is only part of our fundraising effort (which has had a number of local setbacks recently, with event backers pulling out in recent weeks). If we overshoot our goal by enough, it will remove a LOT of stress and allow us to really focus on the show.

Most intriguing to me is that $1000 reward, the living room concert. I could play a lot of Joe Jackson songs for you and your friends in your home. What a great idea for a group of people to pool their money and win that reward...

I've been tweeting thanks to supporters as soon as they pledge @AndrewJHamm, which has been fun. So keep on backing JJND, and by all means pass it on! If you have friends who are supporters of the arts, let them know about the project too! We need to raise enough money to pay everyone, and then we need to pack the house for eight shows in August! Richmond is a lovely city to visit in the summer. Make your vacation travel plans for Central Virginia now is all I'm saying...

JJND backers as of this morning:

Ashlee Parnell
Andrew Dolson
Elizabeth Lennox
Dan Stackouse
Joe Evans
Jacquie O'Connor
Nancy Hall
Julie Holm
Stephen Ryan
Philip Crosby
Rebecca Jones
Jo Bachmann
Brittany Scott Keegan
Stan Baranowski
Nancy Frowert
Thomas Eichler
Philip Hamm
Donald Semmens

Friday, June 15, 2012

JOE JACKSON'S NIGHT AND DAY is on Kickstarter!

We're coming into serious production and fundraising time, and the Joe Jackson's Night and Day Kickstarter campaign has begun!

This is a great way for JJ fans from all over the world to get involved with the project and collect some unique collector's items associated with the show. We have until July 13 to raise $3000 in commitments (though I'd like to raise a lot more). If we fall short of the $3000 goal, we get nothing, so spread the word!

The Kickstarter video also features audio and still photos from the March preview concert!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Pictures from the March 12 preview concert

Check out this album of pictures from the March 12 Joe Jackson's Night and Day preview concert at Richmond Triangle Players Theater.

Here are a couple previews:










Friday, May 25, 2012

"Steppin' Out" live in Brooklyn!

video

Here's a little teaser video, recorded this afternoon at my brother's apartment in Brooklyn.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Weekend in the City

It's been a big week! I met with a set designer for a meeting whose purpose I thought was to convince him to do the show, but it turned out he wanted to talk concept and layout; he was already on board. The percussionists came over to jam out on Monday and the singers congregated for the first big vocal rehearsal Tuesday nights. I didn't record any video because it was a lot of learning hard pieces, and a lot of stopping and starting. "Target," for example, doesn't translate so well when you're only repeating the same bridge and percussion solo over and over for 20 minutes. One great moment from Tuesday: the climax of "A Slow Song" is going to knock your freaking socks off. Damn, these singers are good.

I'm heading up to New York City this morning for a research and homework trip. I'll be up there through Monday morning. Goals:
  1. Record some raw audio in interesting places for use in pre-show and intermission
  2. Take some pictures to use in pre-show and intermission slideshows
  3. Put a KickStarter video together with the help of my brother Patrick
  4. Record some music with said brother (not JJND-related)
  5. Do another thing
  6. Meet some interesting people in some interesting places
So I ask you, dear readers familiar with New York: where should I go to meet some interesting people? I mean "Stranger than You" interesting.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rehearsal footage 5/10/12: "Real Men"

We're into the weekly rehearsal schedule for the show now. Thursday nights the band meets, irregular nights I meet with the singers. Stay tuned for more updates. For now, here's our first run-through of "Real Men," featuring me (Andrew) on piano and vocals, Jake Allard on Percussion, and Adam Young on drums.
video



Friday, February 24, 2012

The joy of working with superlative musicians

I had a moment of joyful clarity last Tuesday evening. Sitting behind my keyboard in the music room at Rearden Hall (the home of Lucas Hall and Stacie Rearden Hall, my friends and landlords), I looked at the singers with whom I was working and said, "It's just amazing to work with superlative musicians."

Most of my band-leading experience has been with enthusiastic amateurs. I say this with nothing but affection; my work has called me into a lot of church praise bands, youth bands, and actor/musician groups, and I love the role of coaching up less-experienced musicians to create something bigger than what they thought themselves capable. The rare occasions when I have been gifted to collaborate with highly skilled, dedicated musicians have always filled me with wonder. It's just so much easier.

The rehearsals for the March 11 Joe Jackson's Night and Day Preview Concert are working like a concentrated microcosm of the eventual JJND rehearsal process. Good artists are busy artists, so it's a juggling act to make a rehearsal schedule work, but I'm willing to make my personal schedule somewhat chaotic in order to ensure the best musicians for a project. This week alone, I worked with singers Stacie and Liz Blake White on Tuesday evening and percussionist Jake Allard on Thursday. Tonight, Joe Hamm is driving up from Norfolk after work while bassist Philip Hamm meets us in Richmond, coming down from the DC area.

(I should digress here for a moment to talk about all these Hamms. I come from a very large, very artistic family. I have five brothers and two sisters, and all of us play at least one instrument. Most play several, like me. Phil is my older brother, and he's the one responsible for introducing me to Joe's music in the first place; in 1995 he gave me his old turntable and dozens of LPs, a collection that included Look Sharp!, Body and Soul, Big World, I'm the Man, Blaze of Glory, and most importantly Night and Day. Joe is my nephew; he and I took up the drums around the same time in the late '90s, and he outstripped me almost immediately. He plays for a fabulous rock band called Chasing Arrows. Phil and Joe are family, which makes working with them easy, but they're in the band primarily because they're excellent musicians.)

Adding Phil and Joe to a band already including Liz, Stacie, and Jake, musicians with whom I've worked dozens of times in collaboration for Richmond Shakespeare, Redeemer Lutheran Church, and other projects, brings me enormous satisfaction and peace of mind in the midst of what could otherwise be a problematic process. As it stands, the full band of six won't play all together in the same room until the afternoon of the March 11 show. It doesn't worry me a bit. Every time we start a new rehearsal session, the musicians just slide back into the easy communication we've shared so many times in the past.

I love working with musicians and theatre artists with less experience. The teaching element of direction and musical direction is a vital thread in my mission as an artist. But when the musicians don't need to be taught and barely even need to be told what to do, things blur from work to craft to art to sheer alchemy. It's simply amazing to work with artists who intuit naturally, and with musicians who listen with their hearts as much as their ears. You folks who can make the March 11th concert are in for a huge treat.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"Joe Jackson's Night and Day" preview concert and fundraiser March 11

Sadly, Mr. Jackson himself will not be
appearing at the event.
Step out for a one-time-only concert: a live music event featuring the music of Grammy winning, Oscar-nominated songwriter JOE JACKSON!

Featuring songs spanning Jackson's entire acclaimed career, including hits like "Is She Really Going Out With Him," "It's Different for Girls," "Happy Ending," and "Fools in Love" and the main event: exclusive preview performances of music from RTP's August world-premiere production of JOE JACKSON'S NIGHT AND DAY.

Pianist Andrew Hamm leads an all-star band including Joe Hamm of Chasing Arrows on drums, Philip Hamm on bass, Jake Allard on percussion, and featuring special guest singers Liz Blake White and Stacie Rearden Hall. This is a unique fundraising event for the August show, so bring friends and support local theatre and new works!

Tickets are $15, $10 for RAPT members, students, and seniors. Additional donations will be enthusiastically accepted. A link to the Facebook invitation can be found here.


The Richmond Triangle Players Theatre is at 1300 Altamont Avenue, Richmond, VA 23230.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

New York City comes to Richmond, Virginia in a world-premiere concert musical

Night and Day
This summer, Richmond Virginia will see the world premiere production of the concert musical Joe Jackson's Night and Day, with music and lyrics drawn from Jackson's two New York City-themed albums, the classic Night and Day (1982) and its acclaimed follow-up, Night and Day II (2000).

Richmond Triangle Players' beautiful new theater will serve as host for the show, a mix of theatrical and concert elements developed by director/musician Andrew Hamm (your humble author for this blog). A live onstage band will back five of Richmond's best singers for some of the greatest songs of Joe Jackson's storied career, including "Another World," "Real Men," "Stranger than You," "Glamour and Pain," the hit single "Breaking Us in Two," and the classic "Steppin' Out." The show is scheduled for eight performance from August 8-18, 2012.

The seed for JJND  came when I saw Joe live on the Night and Day II tour in 2000. I had the opportunity to see the band twice, early on in Boston and then for the final performance of the tour in, appropriately, New York City. Aside from the fact that these were the best-performed concerts I had ever seen, something about the way they were staged catalyzed a lot of my ideas about the role of theatricality in live music. Joe has always used a few theatrical elements in his shows, and the 2000 tour was the most dramatic of his career: musicians made dramatic entrances and exits to emphasize musical elements, empty road cases served as scenic elements, one musician made a costume change during the intermission to play a drag king, and the show was even structured into a rough two-act format.

I spent the entire drive home brainstorming about the various characters and situations in the music from the two albums. More than the first album, Night and Day II is loaded with very specific characters and situations. Could multiple songs be sung by the same "character," creating a story arc? Could some of the songs be structured into duets, trios, and ensemble pieces? What would the younger sister from "Dear Mom" be like singing part of "Real Men," and what's the connection between the latter song and the transvestite prostitute from "Glamour and Pain"? How is the paranoia of "Target" like that of "Just Because," and could "Cancer" and "Chinatown" come from the same mouth?

There was another, more personal element to the story. While Joe was living downtown in 1998-99 writing songs about his turn-of-the-millenium Manhattan experience, I was living way uptown at 204th Street writing the music that would later become Strange Education, my own New York experience album. As a result, when I looked at Joe's music, I saw a reflection of my own triumphs and troubles in trying to create an iconic musical representation of the city. Joe, of course, actually hit gold with his; "Steppin' Out" is about as perfect a Manhattan song as you will ever hear, and over his career he has performed it as a ballad, a piano solo, lounge music, and in its original uptempo form. Like New York City itself, the iconic song has a multitude of faces, every one equally true and equally incomplete.

So Joe Jackson's Night and Day was structured as a songwriter's struggle to create the perfect New York City song, and of the people, places, stories, and questions that inspire him on his search. From the abrasiveness of "Hell of a Town" to the touristy excitement of "Another World," from the lost love of "Breaking Us in To" to the abandonment of "Love Got Lost," from the despair of "A Slow Song" to the bittersweet triumph of "Happyland," JJND is about both music and music's very creation, as seen through the lens of an artist striving to express his world with an honest voice. It's about the impossibly broad spectrum of peoples who call themselves New Yorkers, residents of a town "where there's always someone stranger than you." But mostly it's about the best damn bunch of songs I've ever heard played by the best band I've ever shared a stage with.

I'm incredibly grateful to Richmond Triangle Players, especially artistic director John Knapp and managing director Phil Crosby, for having faith in the vision of the show and making their space available. Stacie Rearden Hall, a dear friend and longtime collaborator, will be serving as associate director, providing a much-needed outside eye and fresh ideas. I produced a well-received workshop of the show in 2004, and drummer Adam Young and bassist Philip Hamm are returning to the show this year, joined by percussionist Jake Allard. Auditions are being held on Monday and Tuesday, February 27 and 28. See below for details if you're interested.

I want to acknowledge the enormous boost the show has received from Mr. Jackson's camp, as well. Mike Maska, Joe's manager at Big Hassle Management, has been an enthusiastic supporter of the project since 2003, and has helped move permissions and rights along with, well, very little hassle. Sean Melia and Tresa Hardin at Sony/ATV Publishing have also made things very easy. I'm enormously grateful.

One final note: This production is being funded from private donations and living room concerts. Please contact me if you're interested in helping to make Joe Jackson's Night and Day possible through a donation or by bringing live music into your home. All donations are tax-deductible.

This blog will be updated periodically with news updates, bios, links, live rehearsal footage, and other goodies. If you have any questions or comments, please email us at jjnightandday@gmail.com and we'll answer them for you.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Auditions announced!

AUDITION NOTICE
RICHMOND TRIANGLE PLAYERS’
“JOE JACKSON’S NIGHT AND DAY”

Richmond Triangle Players and director Andrew Hamm are looking for five singer/actors and three musicians for the world-premiere production of “Joe Jackson’s Night and Day.” Performance dates are August 8-18, 2012 at Richmond Triangle Players Theatre.

“Joe Jackson’s Night and Day” is a concert musical incorporating songs from Jackson’s Grammy-nominated classic 1983 album “Night and Day” and its acclaimed 2000 follow-up, “Night and Day II.”

The songs are framed by a New York City pianist struggling to create an iconic song about the experience of living in the city, exploring the people and stories he has seen in a series of solos and vignettes.

Too theatrical to be a concert, too musical to be a play, “Joe Jackson’s Night and Day” is a new and unique performance piece, exploding with Latin rhythms and timeless songs like “Another World,” “Breaking Us in Two,” “Stranger than You,” “Love Got Lost,” and the smash hit “Steppin’ Out.”

WHEN: Singer/Actor auditions will be held on Monday February 27 and Tuesday February 28 beginning at 6:30 PM at Richmond Triangle Players Theatre, 1300 Altamont Avenue, Richmond.

CONTACT: For more information and to schedule an audition, call associate director Stacie Rearden Hall at 804-614-8514 or email staciereardenhall@gmail.com.

Singers may either bring 32 bars of their own music or prepare a verse and a chorus from any of the following songs from the “Night and Day” albums: “Stranger than You,” “Real Men,” “A Slow Song,” “Breaking Us in Two,” “Cancer,” “Glamour and Pain,” or “Love Got Lost.”

Choose a song you want to sing, rather than aiming for a specific role. We are looking for a pop/rock/gospel/Latin sensibility more than musical theatre. An accompanist will be provided.

Rehearsals will begin in March, and will be spread out over the intervening months, primarily in groups on weekends and one-on-one on weeknights.

Performers will be expected to do a lot of learning and practice on their own in order to make the best possible use of minimal rehearsal time. All positions paid. No roles will be pre-cast. All ethnicities are strongly encouraged to audition.

Singers and musicians are strongly encouraged to utilize YouTube or Spotify to get a sense of the sound of the show.

SINGER/ACTOR BREAKDOWN
• Male, 20s-60s. A homeless, paranoid street-prophet, ever-present and unchanging. Featured in “Chinatown,” “TV Age,” and “Cancer.”
• Male, 20s-30s. Several roles, primarily a gay Village-dweller and a transvestite prostitute. Featured in “Stranger than You,” “Real Men,” and “Glamour and Pain.”
• Female, 40s-60s. Two roles: a Midwesterner visiting NYC for the first time and a bitter, hard-as-nails businesswoman. Featured in “Another World” and “Love Got Lost.”
• Female, 20s-30s. Several roles including an older sister in search of her runaway younger sister and The Girlfriend Who Got Away. Featured in “Stranger than You,” “Dear Mom,” and “Breaking Us in Two.”
• Female, 20s. Several roles including a young stripper and a recent immigrant. Some soaring, operatic-ish soprano needed. Featured in “Why?,” “Real Men, and “Love Got Lost.”
• A sixth, one-song non-singing role may also be cast. Female, 20s-40s, oozing flagrant sexuality.

MUSICIANS
The band is on the stage during the show, and there is a performative element to their appearance. This is not a pit band; it is more like a band for a concert. Like the singers, musicians will be required to memorize complex music and perform it without music stands.
• Violin. Must also play light hand percussion (shakers, claves)
• Cello. Must also play light hand percussion (shakers, claves)

Musicians should contact director Andrew Hamm at 804-855-4998 or at andrewjhamm@verizon.net to set up an audition.