"new year new shows"

PST Musician-in-Residence on Creating Music for "Squirrel"

Bonnie Duncan in "Squirrel Stole My Underpants"

"NEW YEAR, NEW SHOWS!": Series of new work created by local artists continues with great success!

What an EXCITING weekend! After a completely sold out run this past Saturday and Sunday, "Squirrel Stole My Underpants" by Bonnie Duncan is bringing much joy and adventure to audiences young and old.  The final weekend of performances runs Thursday through Sunday, Jan 31-Feb 3.


New Year, NEW MUSIC!
In addition to Bonnie's unique mash up of theatrical tricks, including dance, physical theatre, and puppetry, local musicians created a brilliant score to help take the audience on an underpants search-party adventure.  Puppet Showplace Theatre's own musician-in-residence, Brendan Burns is one of the co-composers and performers.

Brendan Burns is a guitarist & educator rooted in Somerville, MA.  He released his debut album TimeStamp (recorded live at the Somerville Theatre) in 2012 (available via BandCampiTunes & Spotify), and is featured in Alexia Prichard's Documentary about the project; as well as the Boston Globe.  Brendan is a regular contributor with SchoolTreeKristen Ford BandKarin WebbMolly Zenobia & Brendan Burns' Roadhouse.  He is also a founding member of the music & puppetry troupe: Elephant Tango Ensemble (nominated for an IRNE), former director of the house band for Bent Wit Cabaret and currently the musician-in-residence at the Puppet Showplace Theatre

Brendan is today's guest blogger, writing about his experience collaborating on this exciting new project.

Creating Music for Squirrel Stole My Underpants 
by Guest Blogger: Brendan Burns

Bonnie Duncan is amazing.  I've been an admirer of her work and creative brain for years.  
Bonnie Duncan in "Squirrel Stole My Underpants"
She first introduced me to "The Squirrel" at a Puppet Incubator meeting at the Puppet Showplace Theatre.  Her show: Squirrel Stole My Underpants was still in development, but the idea was amazing and the creator was brilliant.  

Bonnie asked for my help to bring musicians into the project, and we soon discovered it was the perfect opportunity for Tony Leva (upright bass) and I to take on as co-composers.  For a little over two months, we met every Wednesday morning at the Puppet Showplace Theatre and tried out ideas.  Sometimes we would work on the entire show, and other times it was just one scene, but all of the time we were laughing & giggling.  Tony would record our rehearsals so we could listen back to our ideas, and most of the time he captured the three of us giggling uncontrollably at the silliness of what we were creating.  Here's an audio clip of an early draft of Sylvie's Lament where we were playing around with the sadness that comes from realizing your favorite underwear has been stolen by a squirrel - you can hear how long were able to keep things serious….
Example music sketches for "Squirrel Stole My Underpants"
Over time, and with lots of practice, we created the music that fit perfectly for this show.  As composers, Tony & I are mostly underscoring Bonnie and providing support where she needs it.  Our job is help illuminate and tie together the fantasy adventure that Bonnie has created. 
Top Left: Brendan Burns, Right: Tony Leva, Bottom Left: Ariel Bernstein
Early in the process, Tony & I realized that we would not be able to perform every show that Bonnie was going to put on, and therefore we strategized a way for her to use recorded versions of us when necessary.  Using the talents of engineer Ariel Bernstein, we crafted and chaptered a recording of the entire score so that Bonnie could use us on CD, triggering us to the next track when she needed it with a hidden remote.  Through studying our rehearsal video, we recorded and delivered a flexible soundtrack that could allow for spontaneity and consistency for whenever and wherever Bonnie was performing.  In the future, we hope to play with Bonnie in every way that we can, but if doesn't work out, we'll be there in spirit - on the recording. 

-Bb

Brendan and Tony will perform live music for the 10:30am performance of "Squirrel Stole My Underpants" on Thursday, January 31st, and 3pm on Sunday, Feb 3rd!