Taking a Deep Dive Into the 10 Tracks of New Musical Frankie! the Musical

Cast Recordings & Albums   Taking a Deep Dive Into the 10 Tracks of New Musical Frankie! the Musical
 
One of the youngest composers to release a full musical recording on a major record label, 16-year-old Elise Marra breaks down the songs in her sixth original musical.
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At 13, Elise Marra wrote her first musical, Almost Alcatraz—derived from a novel she wrote at 12, which was inspired by her family trip to Alcatraz Island. At 15, Marra directed Alcatraz in a local production in Michigan with a cast of a dozen and a four-piece live band. Now, at 16, the young writer-composer-lyricist releases a cast recording of her sixth full-length musical, Frankie! The Musical, on Broadway Records.

Marra is one of the youngest writers to release an album of a full musical on a major record label. Frankie! follows a teen lesbian who feels trapped in her family role caring for younger siblings and an emotionally absent mom as she struggles with her own coming-of-age relationships. But when she’s struck by a mysterious illness, she learns to live life a new way. The story is inspired by Marra’s high school classmate. “Everyone at school knew the story of her fighting her way back from an illness, but when I worked with her on a theatre project, I was blown away by her positive strength and spirit despite what she had been through,” says Marra. “I was so intrigued that I got up the nerve to text and ask if I could interview her to write a musical inspired by her life.”

A contemporary musical theatre piece, Marra expressed her excitement ”for everyone to listen to this music and hear the work of the incredible people that made this happen, and hopefully allow the music and story of Frankie! to uplift and inspire in these troubling times.”

Here, she breaks down the album (released May 29 on Broadway Records):

“Take a Deep Breath Prologue/ Keep it All Together”
“The prologue and opening number provide the first glimpse into the story that is Frankie’s life. We plunge into the hectic and frantic nature of her day and the role she plays in her family as a pseudo co-parent with her dad, Adrian. While at first it may appear to be the routine of a fairly normal family on the fritz with Frankie at the center holding everything in place, later in the song Frankie reveals how this almost matriarchal role is truly affecting her. When she gets to the lyrics "Is this alright? I haven’t figured that out yet. After all these years, I haven’t figured that out yet" and the music turns to a more minor and ominous tone, Frankie shows her internal conflict as a lonely and overwhelmed teen. By the end of the opening number, you appreciate how this dysfunctional family stays afloat and feel empathy for Frankie.”

“Take a Deep Breath”
“‘Take a Deep Breath’ is your standard ‘I Want' song. On top of her family burdens, Frankie experiences the hurt and disappointment of breaking up with her first true love. She reaches a point where she can either wallow in her feelings of disappointment and betrayal or can try to just hang on and move ahead. Showing the strength of her character, Frankie sings this up-tempo song filled with drive. Frankie realizes she has to take back control of her life, but doesn’t know how yet.”

“Come to This Dance”
“Frankie finds herself down in the dumps and unsure of her next move after breaking up with her first girlfriend, Lacey. With the school dance coming up, her best friend Evan knows exactly what needs to be done. He shows up to her room, unannounced as usual, with the intention of pulling Frankie out of her funk (enhanced by bogus social media posts) and taking her to the dance. The scene with ‘Come to This Dance’ is one of the first moments where there is a release of tension and the audience gets to enjoy a moment of fun and joking between Frankie and Evan.”

“Isn’t Too Much”
“Evan is headstrong on helping Frankie find someone new to crush. ‘Isn’t Too Much’ takes place at the school dance where Frankie discovers Khun Mae, who is being pursued by her ex, Lacey. The song starts slow and romantic as Frankie gazes at Khun Mae from across the room, but quickly picks up into a fun song with everyone dancing around Frankie as she is fixated on Khun Mae. The number ends when Evan shoves Frankie into the fray, causing Lacey to leave Khun Mae and Frankie alone to make a connection.”

“Something We Can Do”
“Frankie and Khun Mae immediately make a strong connection, sharing personal stories. Once Frankie starts to get close, Khun Mae pulls away claiming she’s too damaged for Frankie and would only cause trouble. ‘Something We Can Do’ is a romantic ballad expressing how love isn’t about meeting expectations, but putting in the effort and not running from each other.”

“You’re Home”
“The Album contains 10 of the 17 songs from the full musical, and we skip ahead from a moment of great tension between Frankie and her two sisters. Karina misses getting to spend time with Frankie as a sister rather than a ‘fill-in’ mom, while their youngest adopted sister, Josie, reveals she views Frankie like her mom and is angry their real mom, Cindy, mentally checked-out shortly after her arrival. Josie tries to reminisce about her first happy memories of her mom, but is unable to piece them together. Cindy sings ‘You’re Home’ recalling the day Josie arrived, starting to signify Cindy’s desire to rejoin the family she’s been absent from for several years.”

“If You Had Told Me (I’ll Get Mad)”
“‘If You Had Told Me’ is a forceful opening number for Act 2. At the end of Act 1, Frankie is struck with a mystery medical issue that lands her in the hospital unable to walk. Cindy comes storming on stage to confront her husband for not telling her what’s going on with Frankie. He claims he didn’t tell her because he didn’t want to upset her, while she argues that the only way for her to be a part of the family again is to be told the truth. This song is filled with angst and drive as the two parents go head to head about their relationship with each other.”

“Learning”
“In the actual show, ‘Learning’ is split into three parts with scenes between each part but was combined into one song for the album as it tells an important piece of Frankie’s story. This song is a duet between Frankie and her tough-love nurse Edna as Frankie takes on the journey of learning to walk again. This back and forth between Frankie and Edna demonstrates how they lean on each other as their relationship grows, and the key change at the final chorus when Frankie stands for the first time is a hopeful segue into Frankie’s recovery and getting all parts of her life back.”

“Home Tonight”
“During ‘Home Tonight’ the family is preparing for Frankie’s return from the hospital. This song is similar to the opening number in the way that it is upbeat and frantic, mirroring how the family is feeling. It shows how the family dynamics have transitioned while Frankie was in the hospital, although Frankie may not realize it yet. Writing this song was fun and difficult. Fun because I got to layer all the family’s voices at the end of the song, but difficult because the piano part is non-stop and your hands start cramping by the middle of the song, but it’s totally worth it.”

“Hey Now”
“The closing number. Frankie is moving away from her family and going to New York for college to pursue her dreams, and declares her independence and readiness for the future ahead to finally find what she is destined for as she finishes the rest of her recovery. I wrote this song later than all the rest to replace the original closing number with something more upbeat and hopeful. I wrote this song (or you might say it just wrote itself) in about an hour in a practice room, and added it a day before our industry presentation last year in New York.”


Thanks to Broadway Records, producers Ashley Kate Adams of AKA Studio Productions and Mitchell Walker, Eisenberg/Beans Casting, director Joe Barros, amazing artists Caitlin Kinnunen, Jason Gotay, Jason SweetTooth Williams, Autumn Hurlbert, Allie Trimm, Delphi Borich, and stunning musicians Benjamin Weiss, Jaqueline Acevedo and Lydia Paulos.

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