In our "Meet The Writers" series, we're learning more about the participants of the CMTWC Writers Workshop. The Toronto Writers Workshop meets every two weeks where, under the guidance of Leslie Arden, writers learn and practice the craft of composition and lyric-writing.
What was your introduction to the theatre?
When I was in ninth grade, I turned on the television and happened upon a PBS special on the original Broadway cast performance of Into the Woods. I was glued to the couch! I loved that it was sung in English, as opposed to most of the opera I was studying at the time in my music history courses at the RCM.
When was the moment you decided to write for the theatre?
That moment was decided for me shortly after my second child was born. As strange as it sounds, I started waking up at 2 or 3 in the morning with an original show tune in my head. I hadn't written music at all before then. I attribute it to the hormonal and chemical changes in my brain post-childbirth. Every thought and emotion is the result of brain chemicals, and giving birth definitely ramped up my creativity!
Whose work do you admire and why?
Alan Menken. I love that his tunes are so hummable and memorable, and that his chord progressions have that signature Menken lushness and sentimentality.
How do you like to write? What is your process? Where do you find inspiration?
If it's music first, I like to write in my head. My melodies and harmonies are typically about 70% complete prior to me confirming notes at the piano. If working with collaborators, I like to talk with them in the room with me about the setting before we write. Years ago I almost became a professional historian and academic, so time and place and the character's emotional and psychological perspectives at that point in the book/play are crucial to me in terms of deciding the musical setting. Inspiration can take the form of sometimes waking up with a tune in my head, strike randomly while I'm doing mundane everyday tasks, or while noodling around on the piano.
What do you want to see more of on stage?
More works by Canadian composers, lyricists and bookwriters.
If you had to pick one musical cast recording to be your "desert island record" which would it be?
Beauty and the Beast (original animated film recording).
Complete this sentence: "I write because...”
What's a tip you have about collaboration?
People first. Get to know the person you are collaborating with so you can both speak the language of music with more ease.
Why did you join the Writers Workshop?
I wanted to learn my craft and hone my skills under the tutelage of Leslie Arden, brilliant national treasure and Canada's most prolific musical theatre writer.
What is your favourite thing about the Writers Workshop?
Getting to know the other writers, and hearing the many different approaches we take to writing a song. I have learned so much from my mates!
Originally from the Prairies, Alice grew up in Toronto and obtained her ARCT (Piano Teacher) from the Royal Conservatory of Music. After teaching elementary school for several years, Alice now manages a multiple award-winning dental practice. Her biggest musical influences include Aaron Copland, The Great American Songbook, Motown, Carole King, Donny Hathaway, John Williams, Diane Warren, Babyface, Gregory Porter, and the inimitable Alan Menken and Disney Renaissance.