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?
I was introduced to theatre at age 13 when I was cast as Gabriella in the Oshawa Little Theatre’s production of High School Musical. This was the first time I had acted or sung in front of an audience, and I combined these interests with my classical piano background to begin writing songs.
When was the moment you decided to write for the theatre?
While studying in New York City this past summer, I saw the musical Waitress on Broadway. The music was composed by Sara Bareilles, one of my musical idols, and this inspired me to try writing for the theatre.
Whose work do you admire and why?
Other than Sara Bareilles, I love the work of Elton John & Tim Rice on AIDA and ABBA’s Benny and Bjorn on Mamma Mia!. My single favourite score is from Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 for its eccentricity, personality and groove – by Dave Malloy.
How do you like to write? What is your process? Where do you find inspiration?
I always write at the piano, often composing the song before I write the lyrics. I usually work alone until I have finished a complete draft or get stuck. At that point I invite a collaborator to contribute.
It sounds strange, but I am inspired by social psychology! Behaviours, interactions and emotions are the basis for many of my songs.
What do you want to see more of on stage?
Blending of the band, cast, and audience! When the cast plays instruments and the band and audience are integrated into the story, the theatre experience becomes more immersive and one hundred times more spectacular.
If you had to pick one musical cast recording to be your "desert island record" which would it be?
The original cast recording of Mamma Mia!. I never tire of the Overture and Entr'acte numbers.
Complete this sentence: "I write because...”
I can’t stop! The urge to write music constantly interrupts me when I am doing other things. I feel totally comfortable and in my element when I am behind an instrument creating a new piece.
What's a tip you have about collaboration?
Be as comfortable as possible - take off your shoes, be very patient with the process, and keep a recorder rolling at all times.
Why did you join the Writers Workshop?
I wanted to learn what distinguishes theatre music from rock music, structurally and otherwise, so that I will be better prepared to write effectively for the theatre.
What is your favourite thing about the Writers Workshop?
I enjoy the discussions we have following presentations of our writing assignments. I have become a more insightful writer and a more well-rounded musician simply by being critiqued by other creative people and hearing their work.
Alex Whorms is a piano pop songwriter and recording artist based in Toronto. Accompanied by her 6-piece band, Alex released her debut EP, "Our Lives" in 2017 and has toured in New York City and across Ontario. The band has received a FACTOR Artist Development Grant for 2018 and is currently recording their second release.www.alexwhorms.com