Our Fearless Leader Talks About Musicals at Keen! / by Keen Admin

We just began rehearsals for our FOURTH musical at Keen!

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When I began at Keen 6 years ago, the first thing I did was to produce our first ever musical – Stephen Sondheim’s Marry Me A Little. Keen’s work always tugged at the heart strings – and what more natural way to speak to “emotional connection” in our mission than with a musical?

Often when one thinks of a musical, the first thing that comes to mind is a big ol’ splashy Broadway style musical with chorus of dancers and big sets. We specialize in intimate stories that are told simply, perhaps the opposite of what you may think when you hear the word “musical.”

So what is a “Keen musical”?

  • A Keen musical is modest. Ordinary Days will be our largest cast with four performers. Both Marry Me A Little and John & Jen had two performers each, giving you the opportunity to truly get to know the actors and characters.

  • A Keen musical is generally about something relatively minor and its big emotional impact. Tick, Tick…BOOM! is about the week leading up to a composer’s birthday and the workshop of one of his musicals. While the ending packs a huge emotional punch – as Jonathan sits alone at a piano, recommitting to his art – nothing overly dramatic or groundbreaking occurs. No helicopters, no record deals, no cats ascending to the heavens.

  • A Keen musical is intimate. Both Marry Me and John and Jen were performed in our 99 seat theatre at Theatre Row, without amplification and up close. Where else can you see Kate Baldwin sing her heart our just a few feet in front of you without anything getting between you and her voice?

  • A Keen musical is often reimagined. Marry Me a Little was a completely different show than the original. With the assistance of Craig Lucas (who originally conceived and developed the musical) and Mr. Sondheim, we substituted new songs and re-shaped the narrative, adding a whole new arc for the characters. Ordinary Days will feature some changes to the material written by Adam Gwon, as well as new orchestrations by Tony Award Winning orchestrator Bruce Coughlin.

Of course, a Keen musical is not unlike a Keen play: a story that we hope our audiences identify with and relate to. I am confident anyone who has experienced New York City will be able to relate to Ordinary Days!