Monday, December 17, 2012

The Maestrositites — in "Topeka Tomorrow!!"

[post 315]

I've been enjoying the oddball music and physical comedy of the Maestrositites for a couple of years now, but didn't want to write about them until I first did my Spike Jones post.  I didn't realize it would take me two years to get around to it!

The Maestrositites shows I'd seen were all wild and wooly musical presentations, very much in the great tradition of maestro Jones, so I was intrigued to hear that their newest project was a pilot for a television comedy or webisode, with stories based on the characters developed for their concerts. You know, like The Monkees, only the Maestrositites were a band first. Oh yeah, and funnier.

I was lucky enough to see the pilot with a live audience, and the laughter was pretty much non-stop. See for yourself!

I asked company member David Gochfeld if they would like to add anything about their work, and he and his cohorts were kind enough to put together the following overview:

We've been working together in this group for over 5 years, in a lot of different formats (among other things, we've been on the radio, on TV in China, played corporate events, been strolling entertainers, guests at innumerable variety shows, and hosts of our own.)  During that time our characters have grown deeply dimensional, with very rich backstories and common history.  There are a million story ideas below the surface, which we intend to continue to explore.

This piece was conceived as a pilot for a TV (or Web) series.  This is an idea we've been discussing for several years, and finally decided that we needed to make this so we could show other people what we had in mind.  We funded it through Kickstarter, and it was great to finally get the funding and be able to start writing the stuff we've always known was in there. We have ideas for a bunch more episodes, and are looking forward to having opportunities to further develop this world.

We also want to acknowledge our director, Morgan Nichols, who has understood our aesthetic and our comedy from day one, and who has an amazing talent for helping clowns bring what's really funny about them to the screen.  He knew exactly how to come into our process and help us focus and make what we had in our heads, and also how to keep us on track even when our clowns were going off in different directions.

In terms of our creative process, Andy Sapora notes: "We often end up writing funny stuff when we are sitting around learning the music and we start to fool around. It's very common for our music rehearsals to turn into the five of us sitting around making ourselves laugh. And then we say, "let's write that down" and "we'll do that someday— when we have a budget".  Another great thing is that we know all of our characters so well, that we're all capable of writing in the voice of each other's characters.  For instance, when we have an idea of something funny, it's fairly easy for us to agree on which character should do the set-up and which  character would say which part of the joke."

Finally, we have a couple of other projects in the works.  One is further development of the show we have developed with the orchestral conductor Dorothy Savitch and the Brooklyn Conservatory Community Orchestra.  In it, the Maestrosities become involved in narrating Peter and the Wolf, with hilarious results... and then perform a comic movement piece to The William Tell Overture.  We have a trailer from one of the productions of this piece at this youTube link.

We're also starting to work on a full-length stage show, which will allow us to explore more of our backstory and many more of the comic ideas we've generated along the way, along with more of the music we've been working on.

Click here for the Maestrositites web site.

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