Seventh grader Sam Tucker-Smith is involved in chorus and band. He is writing his own musical, and the Echo sat down to talk to him about it.
Echo: Can you tell us a little about the musical?
Tucker-Smith: The musical is set in New York City in 1972 and there’s lots of characters, lots of plot. But if I had to narrow it down to what, at its heart, it’s about, I’d say its a story of lying, choices, life and death, but with more puns.
Echo: What length are you aiming for?
Tucker-Smith: Sort of an average musical length. It’s two acts, probably two and a half hours, with maybe thirty to thirty-five songs.
Echo: How much progress have you made on it so far?
Tucker-Smith: I’ve been working on it for about, I’d say, a year and a half now. I’ve written about thirty songs, but of course, probably two-thirds of those have been cut so far. It takes a lot to get what you’re aiming to get. You usually write a lot more than actually gets in the final cut.
Echo: What inspired you to start the musical into the first place?
Tucker-Smith: In 2014 I saw Matilda on Broadway, and I just thought “boy, I want to do that!”. And that inspired me to start performing on stage and, maybe even more importantly, to start writing music.
Echo: What do you hope to achieve with this musical?
Tucker-Smith: That’s a hard question. When I’m writing this, I don’t really know about that. I’m writing it, and I’m enjoying writing it, and occasionally there’s been a thing where me and my friends have said “let’s record a song from it.” But I haven’t really thought about what I’ll do when it’s done.
Echo: What has the biggest challenge been?
Tucker-Smith: With writing songs, you can sit at a piano for ten hours and not come up with anything. Some days that will happen. Some days you have a great melody in your head, and you’ve finished a song in five hours. You never know when inspiration is going to hit. And the hardest thing is trying to do things to help inspiration hit.
Echo: What are some of the things you do to help inspire you?
Tucker-Smith: Of course I love listening to other musicals and saying, “Oh, I see what they did there. That’s a clever way of rhyming.” Also I just like fiddling around on the piano for hours on end and just playing random stuff and something might just come to me randomly.
Echo: Are you getting any guidance from anyone?
Tucker-Smith: I have a fabulous person, James Bergin, who started out teaching me voila, he started on that maybe five years ago. But then maybe close to a year ago, I was maybe playing something I’d written on the piano and he’s just like “What’s that?” and I’m like “something I wrote.” And then we started doing music theory and music composition and all that. With two lessons a week now, it’s just fabulous, he’s helped me so much.
Echo: What have you learned from this experience?
Tucker-Smith: That’s a tricky one. I’d say, don’t ever get too proud with what you’ve written so far. Because, for all you know, you might suddenly have to scrap it and replace it with something new. Nothing really stays in a work like this. The musical is constantly evolving, changing the plot, the ending even has probably undergone huge dramatic changes probably 17 to 20 times.
Echo: Do you have any future plans to write another musical?
Tucker-Smith: Not really, seeing as I have so much more to go on this musical, I’m sort of thinking I’m going to cross that bridge when I come to it.
Echo: Any advice to others interesting in writing their own musical?
Tucker-Smith: I would say, you want to be able to know that your work will change. You need to know that what you start out with and what you finish with is a completely different thing.