Out of Context Sheet Music Is Here!

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I’m very pleased to announce that sheet music for the songs on my album Out of Context: The Songs of Michael Patrick Walker is now available for purchase!  That’s right – it’s true!  There is a brand new Store section of my web site where you can buy music for twelve of the thirteen songs (the thirteenth song, I Believe, is already sold by Hal Leonard)!

Out of Context: The Songs of Michael Patrick WalkerI’ve wanted to offer the music for sale for some time but you’d be surprised how long it takes to format and clean up sheet music – especially when you’re a bit of a procrastinator like me!

On top of that, the music is also for sale via a wonderful web site – NewMusicalTheatre.com – which sells sheet music from practically all of today’s young musical theatre writers!  Check out the mpw section on their site to hear sample clips of the songs, watch videos of Broadway and West End stars performing the songs and to buy the sheet music so you can sing it yourself!

I would love to see and hear all of your performances of any of these songs – it’s always exciting to see what different performers bring to a song – so I encourage you to video yourself singing and post to YouTube and let me know – maybe I’ll share some of my favorites here!  Happy singing and I hope everybody enjoys!

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London is…

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Two weeks ago today, I returned from my trip to London and, in one way or another, I’ve been thinking about it every day since then.  The concert itself – my London debut at the Hippodrome – was wonderful and I can’t say enough good things about Simon Greiff and SimG Productions who put together the entire evening.  Not to mention the five fantastic West End actors who performed with such talent, grace, emotion and humor – or, rather, humour.  I looking forward to working with every one of them again as soon as possible!  Here’s to Kelly-Anne Gower, Stuart Matthew Price, Lauren Samuels, Caroline Sheen and Simon Thomas – if you ever have the chance to see any of them perform in anything, do it!  Here’s a quick sample – Stuart and Simon singing Different Kind of Man:

The reception for the show – featuring my songs as well as songs written by Georgia Stitt and Scott Evan Davis – was better than I could have hoped for.  After all, despite being performed all over the world, Altar Boyz has never played anywhere in the UK – I’m working on it, I swear! And while Out of Context is sold via AmazoniTunes and is available from Dress Circle‘s web site, there is no reason the Brits would know me or any of my music.  And yet, they were nothing but welcoming, interested and supportive of what we were doing – it was a really wonderful feeling and experience!  To paraphrase something Simon Greiff is fond of saying, if the theatre community doesn’t support new writing, then we’re basically done – and yet, that’s too often what happens.  More on that in a minute but, first, the amazing Kelly-Anne Gower who opened the show with All About Me:

Don’t get me wrong, I’m fully aware that my brief and first trip to London puts me solidly in the honeymoon phase – I’m sure there are non-supportive people there too!  But it was nice to experience a theatre community that is so much like New York, but also quite different.  And before anybody thinks I’m bashing New York or the New York theatre scene, far from it – there are some of the most supportive, creative, wonderful people here and I count myself lucky to know a whole bunch of them!  So, maybe what I’ve taken away from my trip is that, if I could combine the best parts of New York and London into one city, I would truly be in theatre geek heaven!

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I’m gonna get to work on that – I’ll let you know how it goes!

Next Time: Some exciting news about sheet music sales and what’s going on this fall!

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Oklahoma…and London?!

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Wait, I have a blog on my web site?  I had NO idea!  But rather than a long rambling post about my lack of blogging stick-to-it-ive-ness, let’s just move past the eight month gap and embrace August 2012!

As I type this, I find myself in Oklahoma City, OK.  This isn’t a surprise – no teleportation was involved in getting me here and two flights on American Airlines from LaGuardia, no matter how on schedule, can’t be called “sudden”.  So, yes, I knew I was coming here, but there is an element of surprise when I wake up each morning and realize what state I am.  Adding to that is the reason I’m here – as I often do, I’m here with the lovely and talented Chita Rivera performing her concert show – for an entire week, no less!

I realize I’m straying dangerously close to stereotypes here, but I just didn’t expect Oklahoma City to be able to support 6 performances in a very large theatre.  Rodgers’ and Hammerstein’s work aside, one does not often equate OKC with musical theatre!  But, the Lyric Theatre here has done an entire season of shows that Chita performed in – ranging from Sweet Charity to Call Me Madam and beyond. All culminating with the woman herself for six shows.  We’ve only done two thus far, but the audiences have been wonderful and, while I’m not sure I could ever enjoy the 108 degree heat they get a great deal of here, I must say that we’re having fun and looking forward to the rest of the shows!Chita Rivera in Oklahoma City

I return home to New York City on Sunday and then, only a few days later, I’m off to London!  And this trip is to make my London concert debut as a composer/lyricist – actually, it’s the first time I’ve been to London for any reason, and I’m really looking forward to it!  A wonderful producer named Simon Greiff – who specializes in supporting writers – contacted me a few months back about doing An Evening with the Composers at the newly re-opened Hippodrome in London’s West End.  On Sunday August 19th, Myself, Georgia Stitt and Scott Evan Davis will each be playing our own songs which will be sung by an amazing group of Brits – Kelly-Anne Gower, Lauren Samuels, Caroline Sheen, Stuart Matthew Price and Simon Thomas!  Not to mention a mini-choir from the Musical Theatre Academy in London!  It’s going to be a great night and a wonderful introduction to London!Live at the Hippodrome

They’ll be performing songs from Out of Context as well as a few old favorites –

On top of all of that, my album is now available at Dress Circle in the UK!  Although, sadly, the physical shop will be closing soon, their web site will live on and continue to be the place to get musical theatre albums in the UK – and I’m so thrilled that, in addition to carrying the Altar Boyz album and vocal selections, they now carry Out of Context!

I’ll be taking my video camera to London and should have some fun footage of my adventures there – and if you’re in London, please come see me at the Hippodrome on August 19th!  Get your tickets here!  And I swear I’m going to redouble my efforts to keep you updated on what’s going on!  Next time, it’s time to talk about a brand new show I wrote with the amazing Rick Elice! Stay tuned!

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2011 Draws To A Close

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I’ve never been a fan of the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. It always seems that the world stops spinning – or at least slows down – for the entire time. While that’s not so bad for a little bit, I’m usually ready for the world to “start spinning” again well before it actually does. Some of that has to do with my own version of “Buddy’s Blues”. I’ve never been great at simply relaxing and doing nothing for long – except, of course, when I can’t relax or do nothing, in which case it’s all I can think about doing!

As luck would have it, I’ve had plenty to occupy me this year – rewrites, meetings, putting songs I’ve written down on paper – not to mention things like errands and bill paying and other all the other glamorous parts of being in show business. But, to keep myself from having too much relaxation, I thought I’d take this time to look back on 2011 here in the old web site blog.New+Years

It has been a busy year for me – the reading of my musical The Distant Bells at the Roundabout in March, continued writing of my new dance number for Radio City throughout the year, all of the work from start to finish on my Out of Context: The Songs of Michael Patrick Walker, and my first meetings up to the completion of the first draft of the new original musical I’m writing with Rick Elice.

When I put it all in one block like that, it sounds like a very busy year – and it was. But I’m struck by the fact that, before I wrote this blog, I was thinking I wished I had done more in 2011. Funny how our perception of things can be different when we’re in the midst of them as opposed to being “outside” them. Which, really, is my thought for the end of 2011 and the start of 2012. It’s hard to appreciate things or to keep them in perspective while you’re in the midst of them. I’m very fortunate in the opportunities I have and, while I – like most of us – want more opportunities and most success, I look back on 2011 with gratitude and excitement for what has been and what is yet to come.

As we all go into 2012, I hope we all experience happiness, joy and fulfillment. And, most of all, I hope that the Mayans were wrong…Happy New Year!

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Out of Context is finally here!

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Well, it’s been two days since the official release of Out of Context: The Songs of Michael Patrick Walker.  I would’ve blogged about this on the actual day, but it’s taken me 48 hours to recover from the amazing release concert at Birdland!  I was definitely stressed out putting the show together – there were a lot of moving parts to manage and I had to handle pretty much all of them!  But, in the end, it was a huge success, it was all worth it and a fantastic crowd was on hand to help celebrate the release.

Michael Patrick Walker at Birdland

Michael Patrick Walker at Birdland

I’ve performed at Birdland a number of times over the last few years – but always as a part of somebody else’s show and almost never with a show that had even one song that I wrote in it.  So to suddenly find myself on stage doing my own show of all my own material – and hosting and playing piano for it – was a big old jump in the deep end of the pool.

Noah Galvin

Noah Galvin

It was made even better by being on stage with a group of amazing musicians and singers – all there to make me look better than I could ever look on my own!  I have to say a huge thank you to the singers who sang their hearts (and lungs!) out for me – Andy Karl, Betsy Wolfe, Jim Stanek, Kenita Miller, Julie Foldesi, Noah Galvin, Peter Friedman, John Tartaglia, Andy Mientus and Lauren Kennedy.

Andy Mientus & John Tartaglia

Andy Mientus & John Tartaglia

And an equally huge thank you to the musicians who played every song with artistry and skill – Claudia ChopekClay RuedeMary Ann McSweeneyBrian Koonin and Michael Croiter.  And an extra special thank you to Michael Croiter and Yellow Sound Label for having faith in me and the album and being so amazing at every step of the process from day one.  I’m honored to have the album released on the Michael’s and Bill Sherman’s label.

Kelli O'Hara records "Moonflower"

Kelli O’Hara records “Moonflower”

While the Birdland show was a huge project for the last month or so, it would not have happened without the album so I also need to thank the wonderful people who sang my songs on the CD itself – Anne L. Nathan, Kate Wetherhead, Andy Karl, Lisa Howard, Telly Leung, Michael Arden, Andy Mientus, Kelli O’Hara, Noah Galvin, Jim Stanek, Rachel York, Peter Friedman, Kerry O’Malley, Natalie Venetia Belcon and Cheyenne Jackson.

Finishing the album and doing the launch concert gives me a wonderful sense of accomplishment, but it’s also just the finish line on one project, so as much as I’d like to relax and kick back, it’s on to the next thing.  Right now, I’m in Costa Mesa, CA for a few days performing with Chita, then it’s back home to NYC for the opening night of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and the premiere of my brand new Rockette number – I’ll be talking about that in an upcoming blog post.

For now, though, jump on over to the Albums page and check out Out of Context – and don’t forget to buy your copy on Amazon or iTunes!

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Out of Context #2

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Well, things are really rolling now!  The physical CDs arrived yesterday and, while I’ve been looking forward to that moment for months, I was surprised how holding one in my hand actually hit me.  I’ve seen and heard everything about the CD a million times, so none of it is “new” to me, but there’s something different about it actually existing in its final form that is very, very cool!

The press stuff is starting to ramp up both for the Birdland concert I’m doing on Monday November 7th at 7pm and for the release of the actual album the next day.  I’ve been doing some interviews which and polishing the orchestrations for the concert and it’s coming down the line like a freight train, so we better be ready!  I’ve mentioned the amazing people singing on the album and doing he concert before, but the here is the track list for the CD:Out of Context: The Songs of Michael Patrick Walker

1. All About Me – Anne L. Nathan
2. Weird Little Man – Kate Wetherhead
3. Never Added Up – Andy Karl
4. Irene – Lisa Howard
5. Different Kind of Man – Telly Leung and Michael Arden
6. More – Andy Mientus
7. Moonflower – Kelli O’Hara
8. Sometimes – Noah Galvin
9. Finding Me – Jim Stanek
10. Pour Poor Me – Rachel York
11. The Wall – Peter Friedman
12. Sometimes – Kerry O’Malley and Natalie Venetia Belcon
13. I Believe – Cheyenne Jackson

BirdlandFor the concert, Andy Karl, Peter Friedman, Andy Mientus, Jim Stanek and Noah Galvin will be there from the album as well as Ann Harada, Kenita Miller, Julie Foldesi, Betsy Wolfe, Lauren Kennedy, John Tartaglia and Tyler Maynard.  I’ll be playing piano with Michael Croiter on drums, Brian Koonin on guitar, Mary Ann McSweeney on bass, Claudia Chopek on violin and Clay Ruede on cello.

You can’t hear the CD quite yet, but if you go to amazon.com you can hear snippets and whet your appetite for the full album.  And come on down to Birdland (315 West 44th Street, NYC) this coming Monday November 7th and be the first to hear it all and get your own copy of Out of Context: The Songs of…well, me!

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Out of Context #1

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It’s been far too long since I’ve updated things here – especially with all of the things I’ve been up to since my last post. Where to start, where to start…? How about here – I’ve spent much of the spring and summer planning for, recording and completing my first album, Out of Context: The Songs of Michael Patrick Walker. It’s a collection of thirteen songs, pulled out of context from the shows they were written for and sung by an incredible group of Broadway singers. Make no mistake, putting together an album like this is a lot of work – both for me and the other people involved – but it’s also a lot of fun to do!

Picking which songs to include, figuring out who best to sing them, arranging and orchestrating the songs, recording the band, the vocals, the overdubs, figuring out the cover art, mixing, re-mixing, etc, etc and on and on! It’s a lot of work but I couldn’t be happier with how it’s all come out and I can’t wait for everybody to hear the finished product. The official release date is Tuesday November 8th, 2011 and the album is being released on the Yellow Sound Label. It will be available on Amazon.com and iTunes as well as out of the trunk of my car…if had a car.

The album itself features a few songs from The Distant Bells, a few songs from my trunk, a song from being theo and maybe even a re-imagined version of an old favorite. I’ll be talking alot about the album in the coming weeks but for now I want to share two things with you all. First, the cover which hasn’t been widely released yet – and here it is:Out of Context

Monday November 7th and 7pm
Broadway at Birdland, 315 West 44th Street
For reservations call 212-581-3080 or visit http://www.birdlandjazz.com/event/71183/
Broadway at Birdland Presented by Jim Caruso
I hope to see everybody there and check back often (must more often than every six months!) for updates on this and several other exciting projects I’ve got in the works!
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29 Hours?! That’s Crazy!

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Yesterday afternoon was the reading of my new musical, The Distant Bells and, first and foremost I have to say that it went very well. But for those of you unfamiliar with these kinds of things, it was a 29-hour reading. That means it was a very basic reading of the show. The actors stand – most often at music stands – with a binder holding their script and score. There are no costumes, props, set or lights. There is no staging aside from standing up and moving to your music stand when you’re in the scene and sitting down in your chair when you aren’t. A stage direction reader helps to fill in anything the audience needs to know and wouldn’t get from just a reading and the music is played by, in this case, a skeleton orchestra of piano and drums.
The 29-hour part comes from the fact that each actor is limited to 29 hours of rehearsal. Now, that might sound like a lot of hours per person, but it most definitely is not. When you consider how much music has to be taught, learned, worked and polished along with character and scene work, those 29 hours fly by like a monkey in Wicked. On top of that, the creative team is usually (as we were) making changes every day to improve and hone the piece. It’s a crazy week and, frankly, it is a minor miracle that any 29-hour reading ever comes together – and yet, most of them do.
Finally, on the last day of the reading, people arrive – producers, actors, agents, friends, etc – to sit in metal chairs flat on the floor under the florescent lights and see the show. It’s not anything close to what the show could/would ultimately be but, in many ways, it is the purest form the show will ever take. It is about the show, the story, the characters, the music, the lyrics, the dialogue and that’s really about it. It is about the actors and their portrayal of the characters to an extent, but, even that is secondary because, in such a short rehearsal period, nobody expects fully realized performances.

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More changes?! The cast of the reading of The Distant Bells

So, in the end, we do these readings to “see if there’s anything there”. To learn from the living portrayal of the characters as embodied by the actors. To learn from the audience response. To learn from just hearing the material come alive. In some cases, the material proves weaker than you thought on the page. In some cases, the talent of the actors elevates the material and makes it seem better than it is. Figuring out which is which is a major challenge to a good creative team.
In the end, it remains to be seen if The Distant Bells will have a future life and, if it does, what form it will take and how it will all unfold. But, I do know that, yesterday, the amazingly talented cast did me very proud! I am so grateful and indebted to Chita Rivera, Ana Gasteyer, Rachel York, Andy Mientus, James Snyder, Chris Sieber and Jason Tam! The entire creative team and staff of course has my heartfelt thanks as well, but I must single out two people that I first worked with on Altar Boyz so many years ago – my music director, Lynne Shankel (who is brilliant and wonderful in so many ways) and my director, Stafford Arima (without whose tireless insight and talent I would never have survived!). Also, a big thank you to Todd Haimes, Jill Rafson, Stephen Kopel and the Roundabout Theatre for allowing us to do this reading under their auspices.
As I relax today I find myself torn between quoting two things from the show. The first one is the last lyric in the show: “Okay, time to see what happens next”. And the second is the first spoken line of the show: “Men are like Picassos – most of them are fucked up”. I wrote them both and, even though the second one doesn’t apply to this moment, I just like it, so I’m gonna keep them both in my head for now!
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GLAAD Spirit Day – 10/20/10

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My intent in having a blog on my website was to talk about my life as a composer/lyricist/writer and update people on my projects – in other words, self-promotion.
But today I’m writing for a much, much more important reason. I’m writing in honor of GLAAD’s Spirit Day – a national day to help bring an end to anti-GLBT bullying.

This topic has gotten a fair amount of attention lately due to a number of tragic suicides of college, high school and junior high school students – all of whom were bullied for being, or “seeming” to be, gay. The stories of these young people have been told – for the most part with the respect they deserve – and the details of the anguish and despair they felt has affected millions of people. It is horribly sad that we can no longer do anything for those who felt they had no other option but to take their own lives. Even sadder that there were people who could’ve done something, but didn’t.
Then, there are the “villains” of the stories – the bullies who pushed them to the brink and beyond. These bullies did a variety of things – ranging from “bad” to “despicable” – and they should be held responsible for their actions. But my thoughts have been running a different direction. Specifically, where did these bullies learn that it was “okay” to do what they did. Oh sure, there are bad apples in every barrel as the more folksy among you might say, but ever bully isn’t a psychopath. In fact, almost none of them are.
The big problem with anti-GLBT bullying in this country today is NOT that rogue bullies are doing something society finds universally unacceptable. The problem is that too many people still regard this kind of bullying as perfectly acceptable. When I say that, I am, of course, talking about teachers, other adults and fellow students who look the other way when one kid calls another “faggot”, but it goes much deeper than that.GLAAD

We, as a country and a society are sending a message to children and to each other. When we deny gay men and women the same rights as straight men and women we are sending a message – the message that being gay means you are “less than” and, therefore, worthy of mistreatment or even contempt. When gay men and women are refused equal treatment in the eyes of the law, what else are we saying other than “not worthy” or, at the very least, “not AS worthy”?
A significant problem has been brought to the forefront in these last tragic weeks, but it isn’t WHAT the bullies did. It is WHY they did it. And the answer is – they were told it was acceptable.
I – along with many, many others – am wearing purple today as suggested by GLAAD to bring attention to this issue. But when everyone goes back to wearing whatever color they want tomorrow, I hope we don’t lose site of the real problem and how we all need to work to fix it.
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