CHRISTIAN DUHAMEL LIVE IN CONCERT
The Neon Movies & The Human Race Theatre Company
I had a meeting down at the DMM clubhouse (office) yesterday. The conversation kept coming back to how frustrating it is to hear people say things like “there’s nothing to do in Dayton,” and “nothing happens here, I can’t wait to move to_______________.” PEOPLE! – THE MOST AMAZING THINGS HAPPEN RIGHT HERE! IN DAYTON! You’ve just got to pay attention!
Of course, if you are reading this article on DaytonMostMetro.com, I’m probably just preaching to choir. So, please, share it.
Our downtown gems of theater, THE NEON (movies) and THE HUMAN RACE THEATRE CO. (live) are teaming up to present a concert. ? A concert at a movie theater? You gotta hand it to both organizations, both are willing to take chances on something new, both embrace innovation. Tuesday night they will try something new, together….present a concert of music by an up & coming new musical theatre composer!
The setting is a terrific idea! I’m actually a little bit miffed that I didn’t think of it first for the organization I work with. The Neon has a terrific set-up for an event that will feature live song and stories. Grab a beer, glass of wine or even a cup of coffee to go along with those junior mints and settle in for an evening of new musical theatre songs by Christian Duhamel.
Duhamel is in town working on Shakespeare’s TWELFTH NIGHT at “the Race.” He portrays Feste, the clown (and musician) in the unique production which has been reset in Jazz-Age America. Besides acting, Christian is also a composer. He has composed for theater, including several original musicals and a songbook. Tuesday evening’s concert will feature Christian, and a few guests, singing songs (& telling stories) from his repertoire.
CHRISTIAN DUHAMEL was named one of Seattle BroadwayWorld.com’s Top 10 People to Watch in 2011. He is a Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Award-winning composer, lyricist, playwright, director and musical director and was the inaugural recipient of the Young Creator’s Award from Music Theatre Ventures. His musicals and songs have been performed on stages and at cabarets across the nation. In 2009 he published his first songbook, “Here With Me: A Collection of Songs by Christian Duhamel.” Mr. Duhamel earned his BFA in Acting-Musical Theatre from Ohio’s Wright State University. www.christianduhamel.org.
onStageDayton had a few questions for Christian about his career, his music & returning to Dayton:
onStageDayton: For our readers who don’t know you, how did you first end up in Dayton? Where are you based currently? How has it felt to return to Dayton as an actor & musician in The Human Race Theatre Company’s production of Shakespeare’s TWELFTH NIGHT?
Christian Duhamel: I first came to Dayton as a transfer into the acting-musical theatre program at Wright State. I grew up in a suburb of Seattle, Washington, and after graduating from WSU and working around the country for a bit, I moved back to Seattle and have lived there the last 4 and a half years, working as an actor, writer, composer, musical director, director, coach and educator.
Returning to the Race has been a huge honor and joy. From previous involvement in Race productions and also from being an audience member, I know the Race puts on high-quality productions. When I received the offer to play this amazing role (Feste) at this amazing theatre and additionally, to compose music for two of Shakespeare’s lyrics, I knew could not pass up the opportunity.
OSD: Besides being an actor and musician, it seems that you are also a musical theatre composer. At what point did you decide to put pen to paper to write a musical? What was that first musical and have you written any since?
CD: In high school I was highly involved in choir and drama, and here I got my first taste of creating new works: writing plays, arranging vocal jazz charts and writing choral and jazz music. When I began college, writing was placed on a back burner as I focused on my acting training. After I transferred to Wright State, I rediscovered my passion for writing, and wrote my first musical, REINVENTING ROMANCE, which was produced at Wright State, went to the regional level of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, and I went on to the national level with awards for playwriting, music, lyrics and direction. Since then I’ve written several new musical theatre pieces: THE WAR CYCLE, which looks at American involvement in the many wars of the 20th Century; ICARUS ASCENDING uses the mythological characters Icarus and Daedalus to examine the relationship between fathers and sons; RED, a contemporary retelling of Little Red Riding Hood; and A BEAUTIFUL END, which is the story of two real women who worked the western burlesque circuit in the late 1800’s. I have also self-published my own songbook called HERE WITH ME: A Collection of Songs by Christian Duhamel.
OSD: Do you collaborate with other writers in your musical theatre writing?
CD: I write cabaret material on my own and with another Wright State graduate, Kristina Wilson. I am currently working with several new collaborators on the development of several new musicals. Hopefully you’ll hear more about those pieces soon!
OSD: It seems that there is a bit of a resurgence of of musical theatre writing happening in America…a whole new generation of new musical theatre writers are creating very personal, emotional works (instead of the song & dance spectacles of the past). What do you think is the impetus of this new movement? What do you think the next few years holds for new musicals in the American theatre landscape?
CD: I think musical theatre, like all art forms, is following a natural ebb and flow: Mozart wanted to write operas about real, contemporary situations, and in Chekhov’s The Seagull, Trigorin craves “new forms.”
If I had to take a stab, I’d attribute the current shift to a generation of minds who experienced 9-11, can learn from a seasoned Sondheim, and who are growing up dealing with the “relationship disconnection” caused by that wonderful invention: the internet.
In the next few years, as we see 65 million dollar spectacles taking stage, I imagine more writers will strive to bring the focus of the musical back to the emotional spectacle of a character’s internal life, and then we’ll shift the other way again.
OSD: What should audience members expect when they come to The Neon on Tuesday night? What should they NOT expect as well?
CD: Tuesday night will be a relaxed evening filled with music I’ve written, including a couple of songs with collaborator Kristina Wilson. The Neon has the perfect atmosphere (and open bar) for an evening of something a little different. I’ll be telling stories about the origins of the music and the impact particular pieces or being a writer has had on myself and my family.
I’ll be joined by guest artists Aaron Vega (WSU grad, actor and director of Twelfth Night), and Alexandra Sunderhaus and Darian Taschner (the female leads from WSU’s Jekyll and Hyde). There won’t be any production numbers, just me behind a piano with some outstanding voices singing new music for the people who join us.
Tickets & Performance Information:
One Night Only. Tuesday, February 8th, 9:30 pm
THE NEON, 130 E. Fifth Street, Dayton, OH
Tickets ($5) are available presale at The Neon.
Concessions will be available at the event, including beer, wine & coffee beverages.
-SA/Press ReleaseWe encourage local theatre companies to submit calendar items HERE, and official press releases to onStageDayton@gmail.com. VIDEOS: Invisible Woman by Christian Duhamel Performed by Ashley Fitzsimmons
Produced by CONTEMPORARY CLASSICS
Presented by ACT’s Central Heating Lab
Couldn’t You Stay By Michael Mahler
Performed by Christian Duhamel & Jenny Shotwell
Produced by Contemporary Classics