Talent abounds! It never ceases to amaze me how many gifted creators there are out in the world: musicians, writers, actors, actresses, directors. I just spent a very enjoyable evening among a small tribe of them at a community center in a town not far from my home in Montclair. The occasion was a staged reading of a two-hour musical about the early life of Eleanor Roosevelt.
The piece was polished, charming, witty, and often moving. After the reading, the three creators behind the book, lyrics, and music talked about the musical’s history, which has been a long and checkered one. In one form or another, they’ve been working on the piece for over 30 years.
It started out as a one-hour offering written for kids and traveled the educational circuit. Feedback was encouraging and the creative trio behind it decided to expand it into a full-length musical for an adult audience. A version with a large cast has been performed around the country, but the creators decided the musical would be more attractive to producers if the number of characters was reduced, so they cut some scenes and refashioned the story. The reading I heard was based on this new, streamlined version.
What dedication and stamina these three gentlemen have! It takes real courage and guts to re-vision a work of art over three decades. Think about it — 30 years! That’s a long time to keep a project alive and to keep pushing to move it forward. You have to really believe in the value of your work to keep it alive that long — to pick it up and put it down, then pick it up again. Impressive, isn’t it?
How many of us have projects we’ve been working on for longer than we care to think about? I know I do – my Sojourner Truth play, for one. Wonder if I have the courage and chutzpah to take a fresh look at it — and tackle it again. How about you? Is there some piece in a drawer that keeps calling you to come back to it?