In our "Meet The Writers" series, we're learning more about the participants of the CMTWC Writer's Workshop. The Writer's Workshop meets every two weeks in Toronto where, under the guidance of head teacher Leslie Arden, participants learn and practice the craft of composition and lyric-writing. Check back every Monday to meet a new writer!
What was your introduction to the theatre?
My mom used to sing songs from golden era musicals like Guys and Dolls and Showboat, so that subconsciously infiltrated my early childhood without knowing they were musical theatre hits. I was taking piano lessons in Grade 3 from a teacher who also taught voice, and when my mom took a few voice lessons, I sat in and listened and heard her singing "Can't Help Lovin Dat Man of Mine" from Showboat, and wondered who this character was that my mom was suddenly playing. I dove in and researched and got hooked.
When was the moment you decided to write for the theatre?
I've been writing pop (and other) music for years, and more recently jazz "standards"-style music, which are almost entirely vintage musical theatre pieces. I had also been in musicals through school, then decided to finally link the two passions and begin writing songs for longer storylines, for more dramatic staging, and no looking forward to working more on several projects in progress.
Who is someone's work you admire, and why do you admire it?
Lorenz Hart has a way with lyrics that is really special -- an economy of terminology that summarizes a mood, "Blue Moon", "My Funny Valentine", "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered", "Falling in Love with Love". so many good songs. My favourite Hart tune is "It Never Entered My Mind," because its so simple, and so melancholy but set to this dreamy Rogers tune and matches the lyric perfectly.
How do you like to write? What is your process? Where do you find inspiration?
I begin with a lyrical idea that has a natural cadence or rhythm to the text, and try to fit a melody around that rhythm, which often has a natural harmonic flow.
What do you want to see more of on stage?
I'd like to see more Canadian productions on stage, especially my own, if all goes well. I'd also like to see more of the classic theatre remounted. I love new material also, but I'm a sucker for shows from the 50s and 60s, with some Sondheim thrown in, and wish there were more adventurous interpretations of those shows still popping up.
If you had to pick one musical cast recording to be your "desert island record" which would it be?
Without dwelling on the same mentioned above, I'd say Company. Cabaret would be nice to have on backup, because you can really belt out some tunes while on an island. I know I'm likely alone here, but even Victoria/Victoria would keep me happy for at least a couple weeks of island life.
Complete this sentence: "I write because..."
I love language, and playing with it, and trying to find new ways to tell untold stories through music.
Why did you join the Writers Workshop?
I wanted to learn from experts in musical theatre writing, connect with other writers, and develop as a musical theatre creator.
What is your favourite thing about the Writers Workshop?
The insights into creation from those who have many more years of experience, and successes in the industry. Also, having a safe space to bounce ideas off folks.
What's a tip you have about collaboration?
Discuss ideas before writing -- I'm always surprised at how many ways "in" we can find on any given topic, and perspective can inform the whole process from the first lyric and note to the last. Also, find a good book writer. For those like me who need someone else to help in that part process, a good book writer is hard to find!
Steven Taetz is a lyricist, composer, and vocalist. Having written for other artists and his own projects in pop, EDM, country, jazz, and most every other genre, he has charted for both radio play and sales. He has had the pleasure of performing at a variety of leading venues including Carnegie Hall, Rockwood Music Hall, The Bitter End(NY), Hotel Cafe (LA), Capital Pride (Wash DC), House of Jazz (Montreal), and Toronto’s The Rex, Jazz Bistro (quarterly residency), and noted festivals across North America. In 2013, he co-wrote with Juno-winning artists from each province to create a Canadian songbook, receiving several government awards to record these songs on his first album of original material. Steven is thrilled to join the Canadian Musical Theatre Writers Collective’s Writers Workshop to continue building on his lifelong passion for musical theatre, which guides his musical training, composition, and live performance. Inspired most by the “golden age of musicals,” Steven is currently working on two feature-length musicals that he hopes to workshop in 2017, and will share previews of this new material - set to jazz arrangements - in his upcoming solo live performances. www.steventaetz.com