Live Music

Paint Horse Rides Out With a Bang!

Old Cowhand, his Paint Horse and the cow punchers

Old Cowhand, his Paint Horse and the cow punchers

The Girl I Left Behind Me drew over 430 people to the Pilot Point Opera House over four performances. Audiences were supportive and responsive and the cast got three standing ovations!

With each show, our 24 young actors and two adults continued to improve and enliven their characters, their delivery, and their team work. By the final matinee, the newbies to the stage looked confident and comfortable and the veterans were obviously enjoying themselves!

We devised new ways to entertain the crowd between curtain pulls, during scenery and mic changes. The Paint Horse was a big hit! (Thank you, Alex!) Calamity Jane and the Paint Horse invented even more creative antics for the last, big scenery switch. (See our Facebook page!)

Big Chief Heap o' Trouble and Scouts

Big Chief Heap o’ Trouble and Scouts

Compliments from the audience flowed freely, for the cast and for the original script and music! That always makes the crazy writer/director feel mighty good!

The band ~ guitar, keyboard, and drums ~ enjoyed the very lively addition of George Merritt’s fiddle, banjo, and mandolin. The music was toe-tapping, for sure.

The young actors benefited from some history lessons and a little cultural literacy. We oldies are realizing that the memory of our Western heritage ~ a subject in which everyone was once so well versed ~ is fading. We had to explain “dogies” and “cattle puncher” and “cattle rustler” and “noose,” and we found that the song Old Chisholm Trail was no longer familiar, even to many parents! And this is Texas!

We also had to explain the old phrase, “the cattle are lowing,” which is the first line of the second verse of the very well-known Christmas carol, Away in a Manger. We made a joke of the “lowing,” and thankfully, many in the audience seemed to “get it”!

Enjoy these photos, then click our Facebook icon and go look at all the “during the show” action shots on our public fan page. Leave a comment on the blog! Like a photo on the Facebook! The Paint Horse will get all excited!

As you can see, this rip-snorting, prairie Western musical was a lot of fun for everyone!! It’s hard to let the Paint Horse go!

But before we do, let’s watch Lilly twirl that lasso!

 

 

 

Sarsaparilla Sal, Calamity Jane, and Lasso Lilly

Sarsaparilla Sal, Calamity Jane, and Lasso Lilly

 

No Whoa Joe, Kate, Adeline, and Gil

No Whoa Joe, Kate, Adeline, and Gil

 

The City Slicker and Admiring Prairie Town Girls

The City Slicker and Admiring Prairie Town Girls

 

Philadelphia color

The Girl He Left Behind in Her Philadelphia Parlor

horsy

Crazy Fun with Noah

Build an Ark ending

Starting Over Again

“Hey, Dad. What is rain?”

Starting Over Again is FFP’s fresh and funny perspective on an ancient and mind-boggling story — Noah and the Ark.

Major General Angel inspects new recruits

Major General Angel inspects new recruits

Here are some moments from the recent upper-grade drama class production for our homeschool co-op program. The kids had a great time and did a fantastic job. You can see that the costumes are not exactly “historically correct”! That’s all part of the fun.

A number of the songs in this musical are drum-driven, so we brought in our own “Vic the Stick” Cleaver with his electronic drum set to provide the upbeat rhythms we needed, plus some great sound effects. Added to our regular keyboard and guitar, we were cookin’! Live music is always the best way to go if you can do it! And most groups either have, or can find, willing musicians.

Look for Vic in the blog posts about our recording sessions for Sam Shade. And, if you’re in the Denton, Texas, region, look up Vic Cleaver for drum, piano, and guitar lessons. He’s a great teacher!Noahcast

 

Seasick?! We have enough to clean up already!

Seasick?! We have enough to clean up already!

Does Noah have both oars in the water?

Does Noah have both oars in the water?

Sam Shade Solves the Case!

Listen up, Bugsy Bigtime! Sam Shade does it again! He solves the Case of the True Meaning of Christmas!

Sam and orphans rehearse

It’s a jazzy, action-packed, laugh-loaded musical with a message, and a track record for pleasing both casts and audiences. It’s fun for the whole family. It’s a show that can be made as professional and grand and sophisticated as you have the resources to do so — or it can be scaled down for a class of youngsters.

Armed with his signature lollipops, our tough but charming detective led a cast of 30 for our own homeschool co-op drama classes, both upper and lower grades. Our 3rd through 6th graders played the “urchins,” while all other parts were played by our 7th through 12th graders.

The nice thing about this script is, if you happen to have two classes like that, you can actually work with them separately and then put the whole show together during the last extra rehearsals. It works. We’ve done it more than once.

Bugsy Bigtime and Sylvia Songbird

We did the “middle-level” version of the script (see the Catalog Page)  that features all 7 songs with a simpler story for a smaller Backstage Crew. If you produce either of the 7-song versions, you can easily schedule your cast in three sections during early rehearsals.

The “basic” version features 4 songs and is ideal for a younger cast (as opposed to high school or adult) and/or a smaller cast. The “full-blown” version is 7 songs with a true play within a play, involving more characters in the Backstage Crew (the Broadway Wannabes) and more interaction between the “front stage” and backstage.

Pesky gangsters Joe and Moe

The basic version is ready to go into the Catalog. We are working to schedule another recording session to finish the songs for the other two versions. Keep checking. We should have them ready for business in January.

Of course, we did ours with live music — keyboard, piano, guitar, and drums. Future plans are to have it scored for a full jazz band!

Songs — Singable and Memorable!

“We’re all still singing your songs around the house.” “I can’t get that song out of my head!” “We’d love a CD of the songs in the play.”

That is music to a writer’s ears! When people — adults, kids — can sing a song, remember a song, and be unable to forget a song (!), that’s when you know you’ve written a catchy or pleasant melody, with solid, tight structure, good rhythm and rhyme, and meaningful (or catchy, or clever, or memorable) words.

And if the song is singable, it almost always means it is playable — that any reasonably accomplished guitarist or pianist can sit down and play the song, many times by ear.

At FFP, we love music. Music is fun. We love to play it, and to sing it, and to teach others — especially young people — how to sing good songs. We like to write songs that represent a wide variety of genres. And we don’t “write down” to kids. We don’t do “kid music.” We do music. Young people, from kindergarten to high school and up, have remarkably sophisticated tastes in music and an ability to appreciate well-constructed songs in a variety of popular styles.

The young people we work with also enjoy jumping into “good styles gone by,” such as jazz, Big Band, soul, 50’s/60’s rock, 60’s surf, folk and folk rock, 40’s/50’s Broadway, Western, Appalachian, and so on. That kind of cultural literacy is a good thing! And it’s fun.

Another thing that can be fun is some outlandish juxtaposition — a James Brown-style song in Old Testament Egypt, sung by a silent-movie era character.

Make Your Own Kind of Music!

Live Music Productions by FFPWe’re prejudiced. We like live music.

Not just because we’re musicians, but because there’s nothing like live music and musicians “on the spot” to inspire a performer and enliven an audience.

It makes the director happy because the performance is adjustable in so many ways: the musicians can follow the singers, the music can be dialed back for weaker singers or tender moments, and the musicians can adjust the scene-changing music to whatever reality presents itself, and so on.

Every production we have ever done, wherever we’ve been, has been with our own varying combinations of guitar, keyboard, drums, and bass players. And sometimes trumpet, violin, banjo, or fiddle players. They’ve always managed to be available, either within our own group, or closely associated.

The music in this summer’s A Shakespearean Tale will be live, complete with fiddle.

It’s a great experience for the singers to get to perform with a live band. And it certainly does a lot for the audience!