By Michael Gioia
24 Jan 2013
"We're kind of on fire about it," Mendez explained by phone. "It's cool to work with someone and know you're working on it because it's a passion project, and you love it… When we got to premiere a couple of the songs downtown, we [thought], 'Oh! Other people think it's funny, too,' and that was kind of the first step."
The show is a two-person musical revue conceived by Mendez (Godspell, Dogfight, Everyday Rapture, Grease) and Holland (orchestrations and vocal arrangements for Godspell), with music and lyrics by Holland. The duo debuted two songs from the project Dec. 19 in a concert of new work at the SideWalk Café in the East Village.
You're Gonna Hate This, which will feature an eclectic mix of tunes that examine various aspects of hatred, will also star Mendez and Holland, who will duet on most of the songs in the hour-long evening.
The musical will eventually have about a dozen songs — the titles of which also function as mnemonic devices, with the first letter of each word in the title spelling out the word "HATE" — that tell a variety of stories and touch upon a diverse mix of musical genres. "You won't see the same character twice," said Mendez, "but the songs will all line up and connect, and the journey will start somewhere and definitely end somewhere else. But nobody's linked, necessarily. The stories are all pretty singular… Each song is kind of its own genre and moment."
"I like to have what seems like unreasonable parameters to work around because if the sky is the limit, there's nothing to rein you in," added Holland about the challenge of the mnemonic song titles. "I didn't know if it would work. Initially, when I came up with the idea of all of the titles spelling out 'HATE,' I thought, 'Well, this is either going to be inspiring or it's going to be completely crippling!'"
Song titles include "Hector And The European," a story about the attention-hungry waiter Hector; "How Are The Eggs," a look at the life of a married couple; "Here's Alison The Elephant," a solo for Mendez; "Hard Act To Enjoy," a club song for Holland; "He's Angry This Evening," a rock tune about a mother and son; and more.
"Every idea is pretty much derived from the insane head of Michael Holland," said Mendez. "'How Are The Eggs' is a married couple. We thought, 'How much hate is there in a married couple?' So 'How Are The Eggs' kind of examines the daily life of people who are together and love each other and hate each other and the monotony of their mornings together. It starts out in kind of a jazzy style, and then it totally changes style and has a breakdown that I think is really shocking and really fun, where they yell at each other quite a bit. It starts as passive aggressive, and then there's yelling, and then we go back to passive aggressive. I love a good passive-aggressive scene!"
Listen to "How Are The Eggs":
|"How Are The Eggs"|
Mendez added that "Hector And The European" is "us delivering a story about this guy Hector. It's a little Latin in flavor."
Listen to "Hector And The European":
|"Hector And The European"|
"We're still in the development phase," she continued, "but we are eying a production of it this spring. We're finishing writing, but we're also already rehearsing as well." Mendez and Holland plan for an intimate "theatrical evening," with Holland on piano for most of the revue.
On collaborating together, Holland said, "I can't imagine what it would be like for anybody but us. It's pretty fast and furious. I think it sounds like an auction when we get together because we both talk really fast…and a lot." Holland explained that, although he writes the music and lyrics, "we're both really involved in it. We're very much in cahoots on the whole process."
"We want to have a production of it," said Mendez, "but, I think, in another version [regionally or elsewhere], it could be more than two people doing it. It could be a lot of people doing it… But the songs are really funny and really smart. Who knows? We're not putting any limits on anything with it. We're just seeing where it takes us.
"So far the response we've been getting is really exciting, so we're kind of game for anything. It's something [we've] done because we wanted to make something together. That's what it's about."