Fynsworth Alley: Terry Trotter

Originally published on Fynsworth Alley.

 

Terry Trotter

Terry Trotter

TERRY TROTTER is one of Fynsworth Alley’s most prolific recording artists, mostly as the arranger and pianist of The Trotter Trio, the jazz combo famous for its Sondheim in Jazz series, which includes Passion, Sweeney Todd, Company, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, A Little Night Music, and Follies. Most recently, the trio ventured off-Broadway for their jazz rendering of The Fantasticks.

DL: Let’s start talking about how you began playing piano.

TT: My mom is a wonderful classical pianist, so when I was about four years old I started messing around with the piano to see if I had some talent. I started studying when I was four. My mom didn’t teach me, but she sat with me every day. I had to practice every day from the time I was four until I left high school. Of course, by the time I was thirteen, I wanted to practice, you couldn’t get me away from the piano. Before that, I had to do a certain amount in the morning and a certain amount in the night – I practiced a lot, every day including Christmas and New Year’s. I had a one-week vacation every year where I couldn’t physically get to a piano, but the rest of the year, I had to practice or suffer the consequences.

DL: How did you move into the jazz world?

TT: When I was about twelve, my mom could see that my interest was not as strong as it had been. I heard some jazz music, and she decided to let me go away from the classical for a while. I got really interested in the jazz music, but in classical music also. I studied jazz for about two years and then went back to classical and studied for another ten years with great teachers including Victor Aller, Joseph Levine, and Leonid Hambro who used to travel with Victor Borge as his second pianist. He was also the orchestra pianist for the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein.
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Fynsworth Alley: Victoria Maxwell

Originally published on Fynsworth Alley.

Victoria Maxwell is one-third of the Momentum Productions, the producers of Bells Are Ringing. What’s more, Victoria is one of the last of an endangered breed — the independent producer on Broadway. In an industry that seems to be dominated by corporate producers like Disney and SFX, Victoria has carved out a successful career putting on shows as diverse as Damn Yankees, Jeffrey, Stomp, Play On!, The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, and last year’s Pulitzer Prize winner, Dinner With Friends.

DL: How did you get involved in producing?

VM: Well, I’m partners with my brother, Mitchell Maxwell. He’s eleven years older than I am, and he was producing plays. He produced his first play in New York when he was 21. Then he directed in England, and soon he was producing more plays. In 1984, he was producing a wonderful play called To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday, which starred Sarah Jessica Parker, Cheryl McFadden, and David Rasche. I was working at the Writers and Artists Agency as sort of an interim receptionist; it was not really a very fun job, but both the writer and the director on that project were represented by the Writers and Artists Agency. So, I had already read the contracts, I had already seen the play. So when they were staffing the show to move it from the Ensemble Studio Theatre to an off-Broadway theatre, I said to my brother, “You have to hire production assistants for the show anyway. I’ve already read the contracts and seen the project, why don’t you try me?” And I did really well – I did everything! I threw the opening night party, I closed the partnership, I spoke to all the investors… I was a one-man-band. I realized that it was really fun and really exciting. There was always a fire to put out, there was always someone to talk to, and then the thing that made it most exciting was at the end of the day, 350 people sat in a theatre and saw your work. The non-stop energy of it, and the immediate audience feedback, people were immediately touched or you made them laugh or you made them cry – it was exciting!
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Fynsworth Alley: Craig Carnelia

Originally published on Fynsworth Alley.

 

Craig Carnelia

Craig Carnelia

Craig Carnelia is a composer/lyricist who has been working on and off-Broadway for over twenty-five years. His work has appeared in such revues as Working and Diamonds, and his shows include Is There Life After High School, Three Postcards, and the forthcoming Sweet Smell of Success, for which he’s writing lyrics to Marvin Hamlisch’s music and John Guare’s book. His songs appear on Lost in Boston IV, Jason Graae’s Evening of Self-Indulgence, and of course, our forthcoming reissue of the original Broadway cast album of Working.

DL: Let’s start by talking about how you got your start as a writer. What made you decide to become a songwriter, and how did you go about doing that?

CC: Four things happened at the same time: I started to perform in musicals in junior high and high school. I started going to the theatre around the same time, when I was about 14. I was in a folk singing group, where I performed mostly known songs, either traditional songs or the kind of things Peter, Paul and Mary and the Kingston Trio were doing in the sixties. There was a member of the group who wrote songs, and seeing that a person could just do that, I decided to try it myself. And I did. I wrote my first songs on the guitar, and soon thereafter I wanted to branch out from writing folk songs to theater songs. I taught myself to play the piano when I was a junior in high school, and I started writing what I call my “schoolwork shows” – the shows that taught me how to do it.
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