When Nashville songwriter Steve Leslie walked into his regular Starbucks on Tuesday, February 14, the entire store burst into applause.
And no wonder.
UMBRELLA, the new musical by Leslie and his collaborator, Len Cohen, had had a reading at the Looby Theatre the night before, and Leslie & Cohen had packed the house with friends, fans and supporters who had given UMBRELLA the kind of standing ovation that most playwrights just dream of.
To their credit, the cast of Danny Mitchell, Cassie Peterson, Michelle Glenn, Steve Leslie, Lipscomb Theatre major Luciano Vignola, and Steven Dale Jones had delivered a tight and beautifully sung performance of this haunting memory play about love and love lost.
The reading itself was the third event in the Metro Nashville Parks' Theatre Department's New Play Reading Series - but the first event in the series to showcase a new musical by Nashville songwriters. Because of Leslie & Cohen's deep history with the Nashville music community, the reading attracted quite a few denizens of "Music Row" - giving folks from that arena a good taste of how a musical can serve the songwriters' need to share their talents via a medium that has great commercial potential.
Metro Parks Theatre Department Artistic Director Carolyn German was on hand to greet the crowd and to invite them to return to the Looby on Monday, February 27, for another new play reading of THE AIRSHIP AT VAPOR STATION: THE STEAMPUNK MUSICAL, which German has written in collaboration with Rollie Mains, founder of the Nashville Composers Association.
What is Steampunk? I guess we'll find out on February 27.
The collaborative teams of Leslie & Cohen and German & Mains join the ranks of other Nashville songwriters with musicals of their own, from Bruce Arntson and THE DOYLE & DEBBIE SHOW to Sue Fabisch and MOTHERHOOD: THE MUSICAL to Randi Michaels Block and GUESS WHO'S COMING TO SEDER (which opens in Tulsa, OK. in May 2012).
Come to Nashville and Go to the Theatre!
The Nashville Dramaturgy Project