Songwriter Billy Recce Takes Readers Deep Into His Score for A Musical About Star Wars

Cast Recordings & Albums   Songwriter Billy Recce Takes Readers Deep Into His Score for A Musical About Star Wars
 
The Off-Broadway musical's cast album is now available from Broadway Records.
A Musical About Star Wars_HR

In an Off-Broadway theatre very, very close to Broadway, A Musical About Star Wars opened May 4. The musical comedy follows a show-within-a-show as Star Wars superfans Taylor and Scott, played by co-book writers Taylor Crousore and Scott Richard Foster, respectively, join forces to create a new musical about their longtime infatuation in order to play the stages on the Comic Con circuit. They find themselves in need of a female lead, and, after holding a round of auditions, they meet Emily. A recent AMDA grad—played by Emily McNamara—Emily snags the role, but she has an ulterior motive: to shut the show down due to Star Wars’ notorious lack of diversity and problematic female tropes in the original films.

Now, the original cast recording, featuring Scott Richard Foster, Taylor Crousore, Emily McNamara, has been released by Broadway Records, and songwriter Billy Recce breaks down the tracks for Playbill!

READ: What You Need to Know About Off-Broadway’s A Musical About Star Wars

“Overture/All The Exposition That You Need”
Naturally, we are thrust into the world of A Musical About Star Wars via a title crawl that gives us all the exposition that the audience needs. Basically, Scott and Taylor have decided to put on “the greatest Star Wars musical ever” (take that, little-known Charles Strouse Star Wars musical from the ’90s) and have held an open call for the third role (since neither of them want to cover the Leia track). This leaves us with the addition of our third actor, Emily.

The overture, of course, is a send up of the Fox (RIP) fanfare, and because the boys technically “wrote this show” on their Casio keyboard, we wanted the orchestration to sound as midi as possible. (We also initially toyed with the idea of doing it with a recorder, but felt that could’ve been a little too jarring for the first 30 seconds of a show).

“A Musical About Star Wars
What we needed for our opening number was something that was goofy, upbeat, and anthemic. We went through several versions of this number (and the first draft was almost six minutes long, mostly because of a bridge that consisted of all the other nerdy properties that Star Wars was better than…. Firefly, anyone?). What I love about what we ended up with is the blend of a new musical theatre sound with a Star Wars vernacular. The song structure itself is totally in the vein of what these two guys would write for their first musical, because of its musical simplicity, but it is also peppered with plenty of Star Wars references to let the audience know that they’re in the right show.

Also, a hearty round of applause for Taylor’s brilliant Czech delivery in the final verse.

“Welcome/The Padme Pas De Bouree”
This next track introduces you to the rules of the show—including the random cosplaying that happens with the push of a button (blasting the iconic Willhelm scream as a cue for the boys to run off stage and change). We also learn that Emily is here to take down the show through artful protest; not only is she an AMDA graduate, she is an acor-vist! And as she pulls off her Leia buns against my take on the “Imperial March,” she reveals her plot to prove just how problematic the Star Wars films are.

The underscoring beneath the introductory dialogue was actually the theme music for a game show segment that was cut early in the show’s run. We liked it so much we decided to keep it for the album.

The “Padme Pas De Bouree” is the shortest song in the show, but always gets a laugh! People love to be reminded of the awkward age gap between Padme and Anakin in The Phantom Menace.

“A Lucas Orgy”
In an initial draft, a version of this song was the opening number. We changed that pretty quickly, but came back to this concept when we realized we needed a big, ridiculous finale to the opening sequence. Thus, we get the boys dressed as Ewoks, Emily dressed as Leia (in a hand-knitted bikini) and the surprising revelation that you can find a didgeridoo patch on GarageBand (no, unfortunately, that is not a real didgeridoo during the sacrificial offering sequence).

“The Rules Song”
In this number, the boys have to convince Emily why she can’t leave the show. Of course, it all boils down to a loophole in an Equity contract.

From there, the boys teach us about parody law fair use and all the reasons why you’re allowed to listen to this album on Spotify, iTunes, and Tidal (after purchasing it first, I hope!)

“The X-Wing Effect”
This was one of the first songs that I wrote on spec for the show. (The other is a cut song that maybe you’ll get to hear one day as a web extra or at a 54 Below concert.) In it, the boys convince Emily that everything good that has happened since 1977 is because of Star Wars. Yes. Everything.

Initially, the first draft of this song just sort of rattled off random great things (Snap Bracelets! Compilations of bloopers from Local News!), but eventually, we decided that we had to actually give Star Wars–based reasons for the great things that have happened, regardless of how ridiculous they were. That brings me to one of my favorite lyrics in the show:

“It was Pierce Brosnan’s choice to study Chewy’s voice, and thus gave the world Mamma Mia 2.” If that doesn’t get me an angry tweet from Mr. Brosnan one day, I don’t know what will!

Specially added back in for the album is a verse that was cut in previews; that which we like to call “The Bin Laden verse.” It’s utterly ridiculous, but a welcome addition on the album, I think.

“Backstory Song”
This is my personal favorite song in the show. (You can catch a video of the cast singing it with an eight-piece band at my last 54 Below concert here.) One of the most fun parts for me in writing the score was the concept that these boys were so engrained in pop culture and nostalgia that every song they “wrote” for the evening would be written as an homage to a certain genre or song. This song is a send up of tragic story songs of the ’70s, particularly Cat Stevens’ “Cat’s in the Cradle.”

Also, I think Emily McNamarra shouting “circumcision” is my favorite thing ever. I’m so thrilled that it is preserved on this album.

“Anakin”
This song, with additional lyrics by Scott Richard Foster, brings down the house every night. The boys decide to explain the prequels to Emily in a language that she’ll understand—musical theatre—and thus presents this mini-musical that I can only hope would make Lin-Manuel proud.

Some mini-songs that were cut throughout the process was Padme and Sabe singing “The Padme Decoys” (a send up of “The Schuyler Sisters”), and Palpatine singing “The Sith Is Where It Happens.” I mean, c’mon—what more could one want in a Star Wars musical than Palpatine rapping?

“More to the Story”
This song is all about the wonders of the EU—the Expanded Universe—that began with the 1977 Kenner action figures and has resulted in movies, TV shows, books, comics and, of course, the holiday special (yep, it’s canon, and yep, its writer, Bruce Villanch, gets a shoutout here).

This one is, of course, written in the style of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” and there’s so much information in it that even I had to do some extra research (most of which happened during a notably boring core curriculum class in my last semester at Fordham. Thank God for laptops in class!). It’s a beast of a song, and I’m still impressed when the boys get to the double speed ending every night.

“We Got Leia!”
Finally, Scott and Taylor get to the new movies and in realizing that Leia was the only original character to stick around and fight for what’s right, Emily triumphantly joins in the song and decrees that Leia, much like her, was an actor-vist!

This one is a sendup of my favorite feminist theme song—“Maude”—which, of course, the boys know because of Bea Arthur’s role in the Star Wars Holiday Special! Three cheers for the Expanded Universe! I’m so obsessed with Emily’s riff at the end of the song; it is here where she fully earns her gay icon status.

This would also be a good moment to shout out our show’s production designer, Brendan McCann, whose favorite lyric is this song’s “And Frances McDormand don’t need no Botox.” You’re welcome, Brendan!

Because the Star Wars Universe is always changing, we are also always changing the show itself! This song’s lyrics are going to have to change once The Rise of Skywalker is released, depending on what surprises it’s plot has in store. So you’ll just have to come to the show to hear how we get Episode 9 into the number!

“Be The Change That You Wish To See In The Galaxy”
And now, an 11 o’clock number! This one is a sendup of “We Are the World,” and every other anthem for peace from the ’60s–’80s (a lot of which get shoutouts, if you can spot them!) And in “We Are the World” fashion, the final chorus erupts with 40 singers. Yes, this is a cast of three, so it’s mostly just overdubbing, but still.

There are too many great moments from the cast on this track to name, so you’ll just have to listen for yourself (and maybe whisper a “yeah” to yourself after the song ends, just like Emily.)

What you are missing on this track is the audience sing-a -long section, led by a hilarious bouncing ball that has been everything from Poe to a Porg. In an audience’s absence, feel free to sing a long to this at home, on the subway, in the office, or wherever you happen to be listening! And then when people stare at you and ask what’s wrong with you, be sure to tell them you’re listening to A MUSICAL ABOUT STAR WARS: available on all music streaming platforms!

“A Finale About Star Wars”
And now, our triumphant finale! This song is a mega mix (eat your heart out, Dream Coat) of some of the hits from the prior 85 minutes—with a dance break thrown in. Feel free to do the Storm Trooper, the Ton-Ton, and the Pig Nose at home. This number also brings us the awakening of Guil, Scott, and Taylor’s homemade robot that sits motionless on the side of the stage all night long. Naturally, he is a concert bass, and naturally, his voice is based on that of a wonderful usher of the same name at NEWSical. Long may he reign!

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