I first interviewed three-time ASCAP Award winning composer/lyricist Bobby Cronin in 2009 when he had his CD release concert for "Reach the Sky" at the Laurie Beechman Theatre in NYC. Since that time Bobby has become continued to rack up the awards. He won the 2010 Award for "Outstanding Music & Lyrics" for "Ten Reasons I Won't Go Home With You" at the Midtown International Theatre Festival, "Best Original Web Score, Mockumentary Division," for his web-series, "THANK YOU, NEXT," and his new original musical "Daybreak" won the 2011 NJ Playwrights Contest. Now "Daybreak" will be having two productions this June, one in London and one in New Jersey! Bobby's other new original musical, "Welcome to My Life" (W2ML), his under option for a Broadway premiere!
Bobby is the first American writer to pen an original piece ("The Concrete Jungle") for the esteemed London ArtsEd School, which will also open in June 2012. Bobby's performed concerts around the globe: he headlined the March 2009 Lincoln Center Songbook Series, made his Los Angeles debut in May 2010 at Show at Barre, and made his London debut in February 2011 with a sold out concert at The Players Theatre.
In London, "Daybreak" will play at Tristan Bates Theatre in London's Covent Gardens from June 5-30, directed by Hayley Cusick, produced by the award-winning Notion Theatre Company.
In New Jersey, "Daybreak" will play the William Patterson University campus on from June 7-24, directed by Edward Matthews and musically directed by Warren Helms & Charles Santoro. Click here for tickets!
1. What made you decide to write "Daybreak"? My previous agent, the awesome Chris Nichols, suggested that I add a song cycle or small musical to my project list. So, I racked my brain and looked through my "project ideas" folder (which I have had for about ten years now) and my mind started to create a framework for DAYBREAK starting with the Golden Gate Bridge which is the most notorious suicide structure in the world. I have lost several friends to suicide and am a supporter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention ( http://www.afsp.org/ ) and wanted to explore this idea in a musical. And while this creative process was just starting, my father's health was suffering, eventually leading to him falling into a coma. I would drive to the hospital in Boston twice, sometimes three times a week, and on those long car rides, I started thinking about my relationship with him and how I felt about all of the ups and downs we'd had. This was the true spark for what is now DAYBREAK. While the story is entirely fictional, there are many, many personal moments in the show.
2. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing "Daybreak"? DAYBREAK is emotional roller coaster. I want the audience to go on the ride and leave the theatre believing in the power of truth, the power of change, the power of self-worth, the power or family, the power of dreams, the power of communication, and the power of love and self-love -- all without being preachy or corny. See, everybody makes mistakes and everybody feels lost at one time or another, but you must believe that there is a light at the end of that dark tunnel if you want to truly "live."
3. What was it like to write the music for this show? I loved writing this score! It is passionate, darkly humorous, witty, emotional, haunting, textured, and technically challenging. The harmonies are very tight, so that there is always tension. These characters start the show at the height of despair and end the show seeing the daybreak, feeling the weight lift off their shoulders, so to speak. So I needed to create a score that would give that musical journey for both the actor and audience.
4. What is your favorite part of the creative process in putting a show together? Getting the work off the page: rehearsal. Working with the actors and musical director and director...the whole team that creates a night of theatre. Watching and feeling the excitement in a rehearsal room is one of the greatest feelings in the world. With DAYBREAK, I have been blessed to have worked with some phenomenal actors and creative team members who really helped develop the piece through their own passion for the work. I am very lucky and very grateful for those kind and supportive people: Brett Teresa (who did some amazing additional lyrics and supportively guided me along the way), Johanna Pinzler, Sheri Sanders, Jenny DiNoia, David R. Gordon, Kasey Marino, Tricia Tanguy, E. Clayton Cornelious, LaQuet Sharnell, Ray Lee, Maria Pendolino, Marty Thomas, Brad Bass, Kate Pazakis, Eric Michael Krop, and the amazing William Demaniow, and more!
5. Where is your favorite place to write/practice on your own? I am big on "positive energy" and I have two places that have amazing writing energy:
1) In my music room in my apartment. I live right across the water in NJ and have the entire first floor of a 2-family house. The "sun room" has become the music room. And there is nothing like writing in a sunny room with four windows looking onto trees, grass and the sky.
2) I also have been very fortunate to have a steady outlet to my friend and big supporter Andi Poch's house on the Jersey Shore where I will go for several days at a time to write in her large house, a stone's throw to the most beautiful private beach. I take care of her sweet old beagles while there and write day and night. I love writing there...very quiet and it is just me and her two dogs (though very sadly, the oldest went to doggie heaven just last night...but she lived a long and happy 17 years and was very loved!)
6. What have you learned about yourself from being a composer/lyricist/writer? I have learned so much about myself! One of the biggest things I have learned it to trust my instincts, in every way possible. I have also learned that patience is a virtue, hard work pays off, and that I love my job! Since I was a little kid, I always "heard" music. I would sing ALL THE TIME. Night and day. On the ice while playing hockey (which I started at age 3 and stopped at age 22), while taking an exam in college, while lying in bed trying to fall asleep, walking around campus, walking around NYC: I'd sing these songs, complete with lyrics, that I'd "hear" in my head. Sometimes it's hard to quiet my brain down, but I am grateful to whomever keeps singing these songs to me! This is what I mean about instinct. I have no idea where these songs and scores come from, but I don't question it anymore. I just go with the flow, trying to put into my fingers what I hear in my head at that particular moment, for a particular character. So for me, like Friedrich Nietzsche said, "Without music, life would be an error."
7. "Daybreak" recently won the NJ Playwrights contest. What did it mean to you to achieve this honor? It means a lot to me! This is a tough somewhat unforgiving business (and boy have I experienced that from many). Being a "go getter", I started my career doing as many concerts as possible so that my work could get out there. This has/had its advantages and disadvantages. One disadvantage was that I became known as "that concert guy" who could write good songs. Nobody knew that I was writing scores and that I had several musicals in development. Now that all of those projects are finished (W2ML with book writer Alicia Dempster; 'TIL DEATH DO US PART with book writer Allen Mogol; A CHRISTMAS CAROL with Angelyn Benson, and DAYBREAK with Brett Teresa), it is thrilling to be able to say that my MUSICAL won an award. Not my song. Not my concert. But an original book musical, not based on a movie or novel or play, won a statewide playwrighting contest. My agents are as excited as I am, believe me!
8. "Daybreak" is going to have a production in London and one in NJ this June. What excites you about these two upcoming productions? What is it like to be an international success? As I have been working my tush off the past few years, I am most excited to see the world of DAYBREAK come to life in two fully realized productions, complete with sets and costumes and sound cues and lights and a band and, you know, the real thing!! Every writer's dream, really. And, I am excited to see how the two productions differ, being performed for two very different audiences.
I am very lucky to have met an amazing agent in London, James Beresford, who literally saw me perform an 8-song concert of my work in a pub featuring members of the London cast of HAIR. (again with the concert, but look what this concert did for me...I have Daybreak and a new song cycle called THE CONCRETE JUNGLE which is being written for the ArtsEd School, Lord Webber is the president of the school, opening in the spring). James has been instrumental in getting my work to the West End community, a community that has been extremely welcoming and supportive of my work and that of other US composers.
9. What's the best advice you've ever received? I was at a holiday party a handful of years back,and having arrived late due to work, there were only five people there. We were sitting around drinking, chatting and this man next to me asked what I did for a living. I said "babysit, petsit, and bartend for now. I'm a composer/lyricist starting my career, waiting for someone to take notice..." He said, "oh really? I'm a composer. It's a tough business, believe me." We chatted for a while and then I said, "Oh, I'm Bobby, by the way." to which he replied, "I'm Frank...Frank Wildhorn." Well, I almost spit up my spiked egg nog, but did my best to keep my composure. He told me some really cool stories, some trivia, etc...He was so nice! As we were all leaving he said to me, "You're one of the nice guys, aren't you? Let me give you some advice: don't lose that. Stay a nice guy. And, contrary to what most composers would say to young writers, give your music to anyone who asks for it, because you never know who/what they will become."
Well, a few months later I nervously did my very first NYC concert and my friend Caissie Levy, an ensemble member of WICKED at the time, had heard my song "Dear Daddy" from W2ML (then called BRAT CAMP). She asked if she could sing it at this concert, which she did with her usual brilliance. Somehow the song got up on YouTube just as Caissie became Elphaba in LA. Suddenly I was getting daily emails asking if I sold my sheet music for "Dear Daddy" and "Reach The Sky" and others...I had no idea anyone other than the fifty people at the D-Lounge concert knew my music!
That same week, I happened to be doing a benefit with the amazing Scott Alan who also gave me great advice: "get a website, get more songs on YouTube, and sell your sheet music! I promise you, it will all pay for itself." So, I got a website and indeed started to sell my sheet music. Shortly after, Caissie graced Broadway with her beautiful performance as Shelia in HAIR. Again, "Dear Daddy" on YouTube got tons of hits and I sold lots of sheet music. Suddenly I was making a living as a composer/lyricist! And then Caissie blew it up as Molly in GHOST (side note: I found out the casting directors of GHOST passed around an iPhone with her singing "Dear Daddy" on YouTube saying, "check this out. This is Molly!" -- note: what goes around, comes around. So spread around goodness. There's enough evil in this world.)
I now have tons of UK fans who are singing my music at auditions and showcases! It's a really cool feeling!
I am eternally grateful to Caisse, Frank and Scott...and all of the actors who have sung their hearts out for me.
10. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? I really want to say something intelligent or poignant, and even though I already have my dream man...I could dream all night about Hugh Jackman.