On Sunday, I had the joy of watching my latest musical, Sticks & Stones, performed at a summer camp in central Connecticut. It's the story of a group of middle school students coming to terms with the parts of their bodies and the parts of their lives that they like least.
As a novelist and columnist, I almost never have the opportunity to watch readers consume my work. People tend to not enjoy having someone stare at them as they read.
At least my wife doesn't like it. She doesn't like it at all. Presumably other people would feel the same.
But with plays and musicals, I have the opportunity to sit amongst my consumers, listening for the laughs and watching the tears, and I was lucky enough to see and hear both on Sunday.
I say that it was my latest musical, but in truth, none of this would be possible without my writing partner, Andy Mayo. Andy writes all of the music for our shows and is the driving force behind getting them written and performed onstage. He pokes and prods and cajoles me to finish the project. He sets deadlines that I ignore and establishes goals that I am useless in achieving.
Andy basically drags me through the process, kicking and screaming, and I'm only truly happy when I see the work onstage in the hands of actors.
Nothing that we've ever written would've seen the light of day without Andy/
Our first collaboration, The Clowns, is a rock opera that has been produced at The Playhouse on Park in 2013 and has been considered by festivals and other theaters since then. We are hoping to see it on a larger stage someday. It deserves more attention.
Our second was Caught in the Middle, a show written for tweens that was performed at this same summer camp last year and has recently been picked up by a local children's theater for a traveling tour throughout Connecticut.
Hopefully something similar or even better will happen with Sticks & Stones.
This journey into writing for the theater - which began in 2007 - has been a great lesson for me on the importance of a good partner in creative endeavors such as these. Though I could never imagine writing a book or a column or even a blog post with a partner (but not without my agent or editor), I could never writing a musical without someone like Andy supplying the music and lyrics, and most importantly, the drive and the passion.
Choose your partners wisely (though in truth, Andy chose me). They can take you far.