It's been two years since I last spoke with singer/songwriter and now musical theatre composer Drew Brody. During that time, Drew has written the music to three brand new musicals, one of which made it's premiere at the Goodspeed in CT (Cutman) in 2011.
Now Drew is taking the theatre district by storm at 54 Below with an evening of his musical theatre work featuring some of the best in the business: Alan Cumming, Robert Cuccioli, Lance Horne, Ana Nogueira, Emma Hunton, John Arthur Greene, Becca Ayers, Drew Gehling, Megan Lewis, and Amal Bouhabib.
1. It's been 2 years since we last spoke when you were premiering "Songs I Drew," an evening of your music, both folk and music you've written for the stage. Now you are bringing your musical theatre songs to 54 Below on July 22. What made now the right time to have an evening of your musical theatre songs? I did that "Songs I Drew" concert right before my first musical Cutman premiered at the Goodspeed. At the time I was also working on another show Derma, which just recently made it's debut at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston. Both of the shows were collaborations with Cory Grant and Jared Coseglia, who really encouraged me to work in theater. In the last two years since that "Songs I Drew" show I've been working with some new collaborators - I wrote Wilshire with bookwriter Bobby Goldman and Mudge Boy with Brett Smock, adapting it from the Showtime movie. Those two shows had readings in the last year, and I've been excited to share all this new music with friends and fans who may not have been able to see those readings or to travel to see the shows.
2. Why did you want do this show at 54 Below? What does the venue offer that another space might not? In many ways, I decided to do this show because of 54 Below. It's such a great space - I love that it exists, that it caters to theater audiences, that it's so classy yet artist-friendly. I've seen so many inspiring performers and performances there just in the last year alone, it's hard to imagine that it ever didn't exist. It's always a great way to spend an evening--shows there feel intimate yet important. Can you tell I'm a fan?
3. What excites you about this evening? What do you want to get out of this evening for yourself? I'm really excited to hear these songs in a cabaret context, to hear them stand on their own outside of the story. Obviously I'm thrilled that all of these great performers will lend their own interpretations to each song - that's the most moving part. I'll also be singing a few, which I only get to do in a concert setting like this. That's a treat - I used to perform all the time and now it's a rare opportunity, but it's still my favorite thing to do.
4. What do you hope audiences come away with after attending this show? Well I mostly hope they have a good time and enjoy themselves. But I also hope they get a sense of my work, my voice, and I hope they get interested in the musicals that these songs spring from. Because it's all solos and duets it's gonna lean a little to the um, melodramatic side, so just be prepared--if you come to this show, you might feel some feelings.
5. The evening will feature the talents of Lance Horne, Alan Cumming, Robert Cuccioli, Ana Nogueira, Emma Hunton, John Arthur Greene, Becca Ayers, Drew Gehling, Megan Lewis, and Amal Bouhabib. What made you want to have these particular artists be part of this evening? I guess it's a mark of what a great few years the last two years have been - I'm lucky to have worked with most of these artists in one way or another. Robert Cuccioli and Ana Nogueira starred in our Cutman at Goodspeed, John Arthur Greene and Becca Ayers were in our Mudge Boy reading, I've sung with Amal for 16 years, Lance and Alan are dear friends who I've worked with previously. Emma is the only one who will be singing my stuff for the first time - she's an incredible talent who I've been wanting to work with for awhile.
6. What projects from the evening or other projects do you have coming up that you can share with us? I'm currently working on revisions for Wilshire and Mudge Boy. There are some exciting irons in the fire but nothing I can share right now. Standby.
7. How do you feel you and your music have grown over the past 4 years that we've known each other? I've definitely moved away from the singer/songwriter genre and feel more firmly planted in the musical theater world. Wilshire was the first real musical comedy I've worked on, and once you go down that road, you're definitely a musical theater composer. Working on Mudge Boy was also really challenging - it's the only show I've worked on based on an existing property, so having to interpret someone else's extant art made me want to treat it so respectfully, to capture the tone and intention behind the original piece, that I think I approached it more thoughtfully than I've ever approached anything I've done. Those pieces have forced me to really broaden my range.
8. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? I wish I could self-teleport. Is that a thing? I love traveling but I hate the actual act of getting anywhere - planes are the worst and cars.