A Summer With the StarKids: Team StarKid's Kaley McMahon Blogs About the Beginnings of New Musical Twisted

By Kaley McMahon
04 Jul 2013

Kaley McMahon
Kaley McMahon

YouTube sensation Team StarKid presents Twisted: The Untold Story of a Royal Vizier, an original musical comedy parody from the creative team behind A Very Potter Musical, in Chicago through the month of July. Throughout the run, members from Team StarKid blog exclusively for Playbill.com.

Once a week throughout the month, a different member from Team StarKid will share behind-the-scenes insight and backstage scoop with Playbill.com in the exclusive blog "A Summer With the StarKids." Here is the first blog from Kaley McMahon, the lyricist of Twisted


As I write this, it's two days until opening night of Twisted: The Untold Story of a Royal Vizier.

My duties as the show's lyricist have been fulfilled by this point, but I'm awake at 2 AM because I'm sharing a one-bedroom apartment with the other three members of the music team: composer A.J. Holmes, music director Justin Fischer and orchestrator Andrew Fox. Sleeping arrangements might be a challenge if all four of us went to sleep at the same time. But nervous excitement — and pressing deadlines — have kept us sleeping in shifts.

This overcrowded musical commune is a stark contrast from how most of this show was written. I joke that Twisted is the musical that group chat "Google Hangout" built. Though I've known my partner A.J. Holmes forever, I didn't meet my other collaborators until the first read-through exactly one month ago.

A.J. and I grew up around the corner from each other. He was my sister's best friend, my surrogate brother and a constant presence in my house. He wrote piano arrangements for musicals I wrote in college, and in the last seven years, we haven't had a single conversation that didn't end with our enthusiastic reaffirmation that someday we'd love to work together as a real composer-lyricist team. With Twisted, it seems the stars have finally aligned, and this project feels like the very satisfying end (or rather, beginning) of a story long in the making.

I met Matt Lang, Nick Lang and Eric Kahn Gale via video chat back in January. By that point, I had already read their outline of the show and first partial draft of the script and written lyrics for four songs. While they worked on the book in Chicago, I wrote lyrics in New York, and A.J. composed music in California, then Arizona, then Pennsylvania (A.J. is also a prolific working actor). For two glorious months, A.J. lived a mere ten-minute walk from my apartment, and it was then that we crafted the show's most intricate group numbers together.

We had regular Google Hangout meetings with our librettists to keep us all on track, but even so, I think it's kind of a miracle that all the separate elements managed to come together and overcome our geographical challenges. That's part of what's been so delightful about the last month — from that first read-through in the Langs' living room through the sitzprobe yesterday morning, I've felt the thrilling immediacy of live theatre that no modern technology can replace or simulate.


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