I have interviewed several people from TADA! Youth Theater here at "Call Me Adam" including its founder Janine Nina Trevens and Princess Phooey's writer/lyricist Lisa Diana Shapiro. When I was asked to interview Princess Phooey's composer, Eric Rockwell, it was a no brainer to say yes! Princess Phooey, a musical fairy tale like no other with a rebellious princess, and a gaggle of kooky chambermaids, and stable boys - and of course a handsome prince, is rounding out TADA!'s 30th Anniversary, playing through August 1. Click here for tickets!
For more on Eric be sure to visit http://www.ericrockwell.com!
1. You have created several musicals for TADA!, including Princess Phooey, which is rounding out TADA!'s 30th Anniversary season. How did you initially get involved with TADA!? My first involvement with TADA! was as their resident music director. I was impressed with the quality of writing in their original musicals, and was inspired to give it a try myself.
2. What has been the best part about creating shows for TADA!? What do you like best about writing music for children's theatre? The best thing has been the opportunity to grow as an artist; to take risks and experiment with the musical form. I've gotten to write shows like GOLLY GEE WHIZ, a satire on the Mickey-Judy "Let's put on a show!" musicals, which has gone on to have productions all around the globe. And I had the chance to write UP TO YOU, a personal story of coming out of the closet in high school in the 1970's. And I loved creating the score for THE TRIALS OF ALICE IN WONDERLAND, which has just been published by Pioneer Drama Service. I just love how diverse the shows are at TADA!, and I'm thankful that Janine Nina Trevens (TADA!'s artistic director) has given me the opportunity to write some of them!
3. What made you want to write the music for Princess Phooey? What do you relate to most about the story? I was attracted to the theme of being true to oneself; of resisting the forces of social conformity. I feel a little like "Princess Phooey" myself, in that I try to stay true to my own values rather than defer to what is considered politically correct.
4. What did you enjoy most about collaborating with Lisa Diana Shapiro? How does your musical vision compliment her artistic visions? I love Lisa's lyrics, which are playful and smart; her style is reminiscent of the great lyricist Yip Harburg. Because the theme of the show concerns conformity, I tried to reflect that in the score by contrasting conventional musical theatre styles with more innovative/modern music.
6. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Princess Phooey? For a lot of the TADA! audience, this will be the first musical they've ever seen, and they just might come away from this show with a life-long love of musical theater!
7. What's the best advice you've received? In creating THE MUSICAL OF MUSICALS (the musical) with Joanne Bogart, I think one of her lyrics says it all: "Follow your dream until you die!"
8. What have you learned about yourself from being a composer/teacher? I've learned that anything worthwhile requires a great deal of hard work, and the results are worth the effort.
9. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? I think having a super power would suck. Everyone would always be counting on you to save them, and saving the world would get really old and boring. So, I'll just be content with what I have.
Eric Rockwell created several musicals for TADA!, including Golly Gee Whiz, Up To You, The History Mystery, Everything About School (Almost) and Princess Phooey. A 2004 Drama Desk nominee for Best Music, Eric composed the score and co-wrote the book to The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!) which, after two years of performances in New York, went on to have success on London's West End. Eric was a member of the BMI-Lehman Engle Musical Theater Workshop, where in addition to creating Musical of Musicals, he developed the score to A Little Princess, which received its world premiere in 2013 at the Sacramento Theater Company. At the Rockwell Music Studio, Eric teaches piano and voice to some of New York's most talented performers.