Pizza Boy; a new musical, extra cheese.

 
 
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About the Project

I wrote the book to a new, completely original musical called Pizza Boy: a new musical, extra cheese. I collaborated with the composer Brandon Scott Grayson, who wrote the music and lyrics. It’s a tragicomedy that follows a former serial killer, who has changed his ways and become a pizza delivery boy for a girl. After finishing writing it, we produced the show right here, in Cedar City UT, on February 15, 16, and 17 of 2018. We had a full cast, a full design and creative crew, a live pianist. We were contracted with the Off the Cuff Comedy venue for our space, and rehearsed for 6 weeks. Our future goals are to get it licensed and produced regionally. My particular job was writing the story. I wrote the situations and events, and then laid out the groundwork for songs to be written into the piece. My collaborator then went to work on that. I also assistant directed the show, designed the set, and I managed the fundraising and budgeting. Overall, the work was almost half and half between writing and producing.


Why?

Writing for musical theatre, specifically in original works of musical theatre, is essential for the longevity and development of the art form. Original musicals are works of musical theatre that are not based on any existing materials, ie. books, movies, tv shows. The show was a landmark at least in our school, because it’s the first time students wrote an original musical and produced it. The last musical written on our campus was Lend Me a Tenor: the Musical, which had a successful regional life, played on West End, and now has eyes on Broadway.

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What Did We Learn?

At the end of the day, we didn’t actually learn much about writing a musical. We learned things that don’t work, we understand better now how to do it efficiently, but what we’re looking for here wasn’t to take a class, it was to do our work. And we did our work, very successfully. We learned that you need rehearsal time, lots of it. You also need actors who can come to play and learn and memorize music and lines incredibly quickly. Getting a new song a week before we open quickly. We also need to trust ourselves and take advice with a grain of salt. A small piece of advice almost ruined our show because we cared too much about what other people said. But at the end of the day, we followed our gut, and didn’t regret it.

PIZZA BOY: a new musical, extra cheese!

Abstract: I wrote the book to a new, completely original musical called Pizza Boy: a new musical, extra cheese. I collaborated with the composer Brandon Scott Grayson, who wrote the music and lyrics. It’s a tragicomedy that follows a former serial killer, who has changed his ways and become a pizza delivery boy for a girl. After finishing writing it, we produced the show right here, in Cedar City UT, on February 15, 16, and 17 of 2018. We had a full cast, a full design and creative crew, a live pianist. We were contracted with the Off the Cuff Comedy venue for our space, and rehearsed for 6 weeks. Our future goals are to get it licensed and produced regionally. My particular job was writing the story. I wrote the situations and events, and then layed out the groundwork for songs to be written into the piece. My collaborator then went to work on that. I also assistant directed the show, designed the set, and I managed the fundraising and budgeting. Overall, the work was almost half and half between writing and producing.

Changes: In addition to changing the tense of all the language in the abstract, I changed the promise of a live band to a pianist, because plans for the band fell through right before performances. Other than that, I didn’t change the plan to have the show licensed and produced, because that’s still a future aspiration, while we are hard at work rewriting the show still to this day.

Goals: We completed the premiere production, and as I mentioned, still work to get the show licensed to this day, with rewrites being necessary before the show is ready for a bigger stage.

How: We wrote the show! That’s hard to explain how because we are both so invested in authoring for the artform, but we did. It wasn’t completely smooth, casting the show was dramatic with the theatre departments casting rules, and rewrites to scenes and songs were handed out until a week before the final performance, but that’s inherent to the genre: that happens even on Broadway. But I think we were able to write and produce a great musical, and learned a lot in the process.
On a very technical level, we fundraised the money through GoFundMe, which we spent all of that money on the production. That includes buying set and props, costume pieces, renting the space, and other miscellaneous expenses, such as printing scripts and revisions.

Outcomes: Us working on original musical theatre contributes to the sustainability of the artform as a whole. It still may be a source of residual income from licensing, but in the short term we were able to turn a profit on this production through ticket sales. Having a completed musical to show for myself has given me clout to be able to approach other composers and have sway in beginning a new project.

How: Well, simply writing for the artform is contributing to its sustainability: more shows means more lifeblood for the genre. That’s fairly self explanatory, but also is hard to prove other than the fact that it exists, will bring it more people to watch it, and perhaps pursue the artform. It also shows that we are competent, hard working, professionals going into the real world ready to write more shows.
Since we still haven’t licensed it, we were unable to make any residual income, but income was made because the venue was generous in the percentage cut they took from our ticket sales. And on the last point, I have connected with two composers for musical theatre, one of which is a university professor and the other is a working musician in New York City, subbing for the piano part on many Broadway musicals, as well as a professional director also living and working in New York City. Having the show under my belt has proven to be an asset in garnering their respect in terms of my writing skills, and while it hasn’t landed me a collaboration yet, very well might some day.
There weren’t any unexpected outcomes other than the short term profit we
made in the production of the show. That was only possible because of our very generous donors to the project, as well as the generous venue we partnered with, as I mentioned earlier.

Deliverables: Here is a link to the production as promised: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7RmTLwYuMg&t=4233s
Additionally, here is the link to the libretto. While we have been making revisions, I tried to find the oldest version I still had, matching the recorded show. There might, however, still be differences in this version of the script: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1dPv8vCF92hWg2RWVgthD8rtjREj2l4P1b3OOL4g8Caw/edit?usp=sharing
The sheet music isn’t in that libretto, but this is all of my contributions, as I didn’t work on the music. If you would like the sheet music, I could get it, but I’d have to reach out to my collaborator.
I’m unsure how to prove the process here. We have a script, which you can see is created by me, and I can show the edit log, but that will require you to look at my account and see the edit history. If you’d like to do that, I’d be more than happy to arrange that.
— Project Completion Report
Original Musical, Pizza Boy, Premieres in Cedar City, UT

For Immediate Release
Cedar City, UT

Brand new musical, Pizza Boy: a new musical, extra cheese! Debuted in Cedar City, UT in Spring of 2018. With original music and lyrics by Brandon Scott Grayson, and book by Ben Cano, this is a huge theatrical undertaking. It was performed at Off The Cuff Comedy to resounding success, and leads it’s writers to begin revision. Neil Simon Festival Artistic Director Peter Sham calls it “A fantastic work with a great future!”

After fundraising nearly $1000 dollars, the production took its feet and was critically acclaimed. Of the original works in Cedar City, there has been a nearly nonexistent amount of original musicals, especially at scales smaller than the Utah Shakespeare Festival. It’s made even more exclusive when it’s written by students. Brandon Scott Grayson, now musical staff at SUU has been writing since he was in high school. Ben Cano has been writing and performing in plays for just as long, and they both have high hopes for this musical, and the future of musical theatre as a whole.

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Ben Cano
702 600 5414
benmartincano@gmail.com
Iambencano.com
318 s 300 w Cedar City UT 84720
— Press Release