Chasing the Day - The Music of Will Van Dyke

Alright: first things first. This past Sunday, Hillary and I attended the final Broadway performance of Next to Normal. Amidst a flood of memories and tears (...we're actually not exaggerating...), the evening was perfect in every way. Simply perfect. We're pretty sure that most readers have probably picked up on our love of the show by this point, and therefore have some idea of how emotional the night was for us...and hopefully won't be upset when we say that we're going to need a few more days to process everything. Check back soon for a semi-coherent string of both our thoughts from the evening.

And now, for something completely different. (Points to anyone who picks up that reference. You have great comedic taste.) Despite the emotional hangovers that we woke up with on Monday morning, Hillary and I were glad to be able to occupy our minds with happier thoughts by attending Will Van Dyke's CD release concert at le Poisson Rouge, held in honor of his debut album entitled Chasing the Day - The Music of Will Van Dyke. With so many contemporary composers putting out albums these days (seriously - the iTunes gift cards we each received for Christmas could not have arrived at a better time!), our iPods are overflowing with new music, and we want to do a post showcasing each album and its composer(s). Last night's concert at LPR serves as the perfect starting point for our new project.


Mr. Van Dyke is a composer and lyricist who currently plays keyboards in the pit of The Addams Family. Our first exposure to his work occurred last April, when we heard Matt Doyle sing "Marie and Me" at Joe's Pub. Of course, anything that Mr. Doyle sings is made of gold, but we also loved song's delicate arrangement, the way it progressed with a driving purpose, and its candid lyrics about a boy who couldn't let go of the love of his life, and couldn't wait to hear more of Mr. Van Dyke's work. Last night, the composer himself, who played piano throughout, sang the first song of the evening before Alex Brightman performed the track, which he also recorded for the CD. The entire concert was a wonderful mix of songs from Chasing the Day, some performed by the same person as the album track and some performed by others, as well as several new songs we had not heard before. Celisse Henderson's rendition of "If You Only Knew" was an emotional highlight for sure; Mr. Doyle, who was up next with "Settle," even acknowledged how touched he was by the performance before beginning his own number. Katie Gassert rocked one of my favorite tracks from the album, "The Lighter Side," which encapsulates the overwhelming feelings of falling for a lover (or a friend, for that matter) and wanting to experience the world with them. Pauline Pisano, a friend of Mr. Van Dyke's from middle school, showed off her edgy, belt-y voice on "Why You Hold My Hand," arguably out-performing her recording on the album with sheer vocal power. And while we're big fans of Adam Kantor's sound on the CD version of "Gateway," Morgan Karr more than did the song justice with his beautiful, airy voice and super-fierce falsetto. While we had never heard of her prior to listening to "Come Home," Carrie Manolakos, who was most recently seen in Mamma Mia, is most definitely one of our new favorite voices, with a rich, expressive tone and general ability to belt her face off. And Alex Goley and Lindsay Mendez joined Mr. Doyle to perform two songs new to us between them - "I Want You to Know Me," a clever duet between two budding lovers struggling to get to know each other, and "When I Run This Town." Ms. Mendez also sang "Fly Away Gone," performed by Stephanie J. Block on the album.

To end the night, Katie Rose Clarke (Broadway's current Glinda) performed the "artsy" "Truth, Beauty, and Love" before Mr. Karr returned for an encore; the number, called "Starting Over" (thanks, Liz!) was probably my favorite new song of the night. It was an upbeat way to end an evening filled with so many beautiful songs about looking back on a moment frozen in time, and finding yourself in the present moment. There were several other hilarious and uplifting performances, though - Jay A. Johnson's "The Very Worst Year," for one, about learning to survive the hurt of life throughout childhood, adolescence, and into adulthood ("My fear of cows and Judy Blume were kind of weird...I persevered and I lived"), as well as John Eric Parker's "Life Times," about an unexpected, optimistic future ("If you can play, then you can grow/If you can learn, then you will know/That's loving life; now don't let it go.")

As we watched Mr. Van Dyke rock out at the piano and revel in his accomplishments thus far, I could only think of another young, energetic composer who wanted nothing more than to share his music with the world. It's beyond exciting to us to see musical theater writers spreading their wings beyond the stereotypical show by writing musical photographs of so many different characters, as well as giving the actors who perform their work more chances to showcase their talents. So congratulations to you, Mr. Van Dyke - you've gained more than a few fans who have been listening to your debut album obsessively, and can't wait to hear what you write next!

Check out Chasing the Day - The Music of Will Van Dyke on iTunes, and visit his website here! You can also watch videos from the concert here (also thanks to Liz!).

1 comments:

Liz said...

Morgan's song was called "Starting Over".

I've got videos of almost all the songs from the show up here: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=68DEAED2F6B7F86E

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