It's hard to believe that less than a year ago, "The Ultimate Musical" began its journey to the stage...and what a journey it's been.
It all started when Mike von der Nahmer received his final project from UCLA. In order to complete the Film Score Program there, Mike needed to put together a 10 to 15 minute film complete with an original score.
After writing a short script and putting out a call to actors for auditions, Mike contacted a former classmate, Virginia Lynn Emrick, to co-write the opening and closing songs. The two songs turned into four and a few weeks later, the two writers along with the show's choreographer, Monika Pydynkowska, were ready for auditions.
The auditions were held in Santa Monica, Calif. on June 5, 2004. The turnout was fantastic with quite a few terrific actors vying for their chance to perform in the show. As with all shows, the number of parts was limited and in this case, only five actors and a handful of dancers were needed.
Once the cast was in place, the rehearsals began, and UCLA informed Mike that his filming date was scheduled for mid-June. However, Mike was selected as a scholarship recipient for the 2004 O'Neill Puppetry Conference in Connecticut at the end of the month, causing a scheduling conflict.
Since UCLA would not allow Mike to reschedule the filming due to the conflict, he was on his own to complete the project, without funding or equipment. Not one to give up, Mike called a meeting with Monika and Virginia to discuss other options.
"I want to think big, no more small stuff. I want an evening of entertainment that will move people...make them think," Mike told his team.
It was then that they decided to expand the project into a full evening event. That meant revising the script, finding more actors, and writing additional songs, bringing the song count to 15.
Mike shared this new vision to the current cast. Some were in and others decided the commitment was too much for them. Choices were made and finally a new cast was in place.
After some research, Virginia secured a theatre and the show became official. Mike, Monika, and Virginia would unveil "The Ultimate Musical" to its first audience at a reading on October 11, 2004 at FirstStage LA in Hollywood, Calif.
During the next few months while rehearsals were in full force in the United States, the script was translated into German and a performance was arranged in Mike's hometown of Munich, Germany. Elenita von der Nahmer was named the German production coordinator and became responsible for all aspects of the German premiere, which would be held on November 27, 2004 at Evangelic Church in Unterf?hring, Germany.
The Hollywood performance opened to an invitation-only audience of special industry guests and friends. The theatre, which seats 50, was filled. The show was a success and afterward, guests were encouraged to offer feedback to help make the show stronger.
With the feedback in mind, Mike and Virginia set about updating the script for the German performance. Script and songs were modified and five more songs were added.
November 27 came and the theatre was packed. This time the show was open to the public. Included in the over 200 guests were journalists from the local papers: the S?ddeutsche Zeitung and the M?nchener Merkur. The response was incredible.
"Mike von der Nahmer and lyricist, Virginia Emrick, tell a story about popular cliches and judgmental opinions, which are understandable by themselves, but if not, then confirmed in songs. The music sung by young pros tells a stand-out story, which will take anyone on a journey," said the S?ddeutsche Zeitung.
Soon after the November performance, offers to hold the show in other cities throughout Southern Germany poured in. The show is currently in rehearsals for upcomign performances at Soul City in Munich with German director and producer Klaus Neuman. From there it will continue its journey throughout Bavaria. It is also under consideration for a run at additional theatres in Germany and in the U.S.
Check back for updates, and thanks for stopping by.