By Kenneth Jones
29 Aug 2012
"Thank you to everyone out there that gave," the collaborators wrote in a mass email. "Because of you, we will be making an original cast recording of the show this fall. It's not too late to give to the campaign. For every dollar we go over our goal, we can make more CDs, upgrade the quality of the work, and cover processing fees and overhead. You can still pre-order your CDs or pick up other fabulous gifts if you back the project. The final day to give to the campaign is tomorrow, Aug. 30 — Jeff Bowen's birthday — so say Happy Birthday to Jeff and pledge today!"
The campaign began on Aug. 3. The album will be produced and distributed by Sh-K-Boom/Ghostlight Records in conjunction with Vineyard Theatre, which produced the quirky musical revue that drew on the lives and personalities of the stars of the cult-hit musical [title of show] — Hunter Bell, Susan Blackwell, Heidi Blickenstaff and Jeff Bowen. The Off-Broadway Vineyard production ran March 7-April 28.
The fundraising campaign offers perks at different levels of giving (for example, a future dinner with the cast).
Playbill.com reached out to Bell on Aug. 29. He added, "The NHT and Vineyard Theatre family is beyond thrilled we met our goal to produce the Now. Here. This. OCR. Working to raise the funds has been so thrilling and creative this past 30 days. We've been like kids on Christmas morning refreshing the link to see the total every day. Who am I kidding...every ten minutes! Our gratitude to friends, fans, family, [tos]sers, NHTers, and everyone who gave to make this happen. Well, there are no words.
"We consider every single backer a collaborator in this project. The fact that we get to preserve the show because of the generosity and passion of so many makes us want to get in that studio with Ghostlight Records, the cast and our amazing musicians and rock even harder! We've got 24 hours to go and are hoping folks keep pre-ordering the CD because we want this to sound amazing and make all our peeps proud."
How does surpassing the fundraising goal help to create a better album? Bell explained, "More funds allow for more rehearsal with the musicians, more studio time, more time with the engineers and mixers, all things that cost. ...Any more monies we have to play with in the budget go directly to those things and will hopefully make an already awesome album even more awesome."
Jennifer Garvey-Blackwell, executive producer of The Vineyard, said in a statement, "Developing and producing new musicals has always been a part of our mission as a non-profit theatre company. Musicals are considerably more expensive than plays to produce and funding the cost of producing an original cast recording in addition to the development and production expenses can be challenging. Our composer Jeff Bowen and Kurt Deutsch of Sh-K-Boom/Ghostlight and I sat down and got excited about the prospect of doing this on Kickstarter to be able to make a recording of this beautiful score a reality. We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the backers in our first weekend on Kickstarter. We are deeply grateful."
Kurt Deutsch of Sh-K-Boom added, "Preservation of musicals through Original Cast Recordings is an essential tool for the artists involved, the original producing theatre and future producers, as well as moving the art form forward for future generations. Without a recording it becomes very difficult to license the show. Unfortunately, the cost of preserving musicals can be extremely expensive and therefore cost-prohibitive. By crowd-funding Now. Here. This., our hope is to activate supporters of the creators and musical theatre in general to help us preserve this recording. The music industry is evolving so rapidly and having tools like Kickstarter is proving invaluable to us."
Now. Here. This. has music and lyrics by Jeff Bowen and a book by Hunter Bell and Susan Blackwell. It was produced Off-Broadway at Vineyard Theatre with direction and choreography by Michael Berresse, musical direction and arrangements by Larry Pressgrove, and starred the three writers alongside collaborator Heidi Blickenstaff.
The musical reunited the six major collaborators of the Tony-nominated Broadway musical, [title of show], which was also produced by Vineyard Theatre in 2006, winning Obie Awards for its creators, prior to transferring to Broadway. Bell was Tony Award-nominated for Book of a Musical.
Here's how Vineyard characterized the hard-to-define Now. Here. This.: "The six original collaborators of [title of show] are back and all delving into life's big questions with inimitable humor and humanity. The show explores birds, bees, reptiles, early man, ancient civilizations, and outer space. Also, loneliness, friendship, hoarding, hiding, laughing, living and dying. And middle school. And dinosaurs."
For more information about the cast album, visit the show's kickstarter page.
Kickstarter is a crowd funding website for creative projects. Founded in 2008, it is the world's largest funding platform for such creative endeavors as indie films, music, comics, journalism, video games and food-related projects.
For more information about Vineyard productions, visit vineyardtheatre.org.