Kid Pan Alley’s Paul Reisler has just returned from a month-long fellowship at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in Amherst, where he was writing a new musical based on the popular Clementine series of children’s books. He completed a working draft of the script and about a half dozen songs for the project while at VCCA.
VCCA is one of the nation’s largest year-round arts colonies. Its fellowships aim to intensify creativity by freeing artists from the disruptions of everyday life. Honors accorded VCCA Fellows have included MacArthur genius grants, National Book Awards, Pulitzer Prizes, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Academy in Rome, and the Guggenheim Foundations.
“The VCCA is where I get all my large-scale work done,” says Reisler. “I’ve been going there since the mid-90’s and wrote the music for all of our Ki Theatre plays, my Aesop’s Fables for Orchestra and Narrator, Bouncin’ — the musical, and a big pile of songs and instrumental music. It’s amazing what you can accomplish in a setting where you are surrounded by the creative energy of other artists and there are no distractions. It’s been a great gift.”
The Talented Clementine is a brand-new, fully staged musical that Reisler is adapting from Sara Pennypacker’s award-winning children’s book by the same name. The story follows the misadventures of Clementine, a loveable third grader, as she struggles to discover her talent in time for the school talent show. As the night of Talent-Palooza draws closer, Clementine grows desperate for an act — any act — she can perform. And it all came about because of VCCA, as that’s where Reisler and Pennypacker first met.
The musical will have a 2-week run in June 2019 with the Encore Theatre in Arlington and then Encore will bring it out to the Theatre House at Castleton for two more performances in Rappahannock.
The musical will feature Kid Pan Alley songs that Reisler will write with children this fall as well as the six songs already in the musical from the vast Kid Pan Alley catalog. Two of those songs were written here by Reisler and the late Flint Hill resident Will Hopkins, along with children at Rappahannock Elementary — Crazy Idea and A.D.D. Just Doesn’t Add Up.
And if you are not a kid anymore and would like to write songs, Kid Pan Alley is sponsoring a workshop and concert September 28-30 at the Theatre House at Castleton, featuring Reisler along with Ysaye M. Barnwell, formerly of Sweet Honey in the Rock, and actress/director Dietlinde Maazel.
It’s a great opportunity to learn from three of the most experienced teachers of their craft in the country. So, come write a song (even if it’s your first), sing in a gospel choir, and learn to be a better performer. Thanks to a grant from RAAC’s Claudia Mitchell Fund, there is a substantial discount for Rappahannock residents.