Considering that the Off-Broadway show Old Hats consisted mainly of silent comedy from master clowns Bill Irwin and David Shiner, it may seem odd that the show is getting a cast album of sorts.
But anyone who saw the show remembers the darkly comic songs, by award-winning composer and performer Shaina Taub, that punctuated and augmented the comedy routines.
Songs From Old Hats will be released as a three-song digital EP April 29 by Ghost Light Records. It can be ordered here.
Production notes said the three-track set features ”the sardonically perky ‘Lighten Up,’ the slyly upbeat ‘You Never Get Old To Me’ and the charming love song ‘Might As Well.’” The songs are produced by Dean Sharenow and arranged by Shaina Taub and Mike Brun, with horn arrangements by Mike Brun.
Old Hats played at the Off-Broadway Signature Theatre in 2013 and 2016.
“These songs were totally inspired by the clowns,” said Taub. “They work with the tension between dark and light, joy and suffering. They find their comedy in the duality of the human experience we all share. So, I chose darker lyrical topics—death, sadness, global warming, wasted time – and juxtaposed them with sunny, catchy, feel-good music. I also wanted to marry an old-school throwback musical sensibility with a very contemporary voice, in the same way the clowns breathe fresh new life into classic forms.”
Taub recently signed a publishing deal with Ghostlight/Sh-k-Boom Records and Razor & Tie, the first artist in their new joint venture to represent songwriters that fuse theater and pop music. She earned a Lucille Lortel Award nomination for her portrayal of Princess Mary in the hit electropop opera, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812.
As a songwriter, Shaina won the 2014 Jonathan Larson Grant, and was Ars Nova’s 2012 Composer-in-Residence. Her original soul-folk opera, The Daughters, has been developed by the Yale Institute of Music Theatre, CAP21 Theater Company, and was featured in NYU’s mainstage season. She is also currently writing a new musical about Alice Paul and the American women’s suffrage movement.