I had a blast presenting material from Borderline at the DGF Fellows Showcase at the Signature Theater! Aryanna and I had a wonderful experience developing Borderline in the Fellows Program over the last year under the guidance of Michael Korie, Larry O’Keefe, and Allison Gold. It was a thrill to see the work presented by our other fellows, such a phenomenal showcase of talent.
Thrilled that “Kiss My Aztec” finally opened at La Jolla Playhouse and that the critics and audience seem to be having a blast! Shout out to my peerless collaborators John Leguizamo, Tony Taccone, and David Kamp. We still run until October 13th, so be sure to check it out if you’re going to be in southern California before then!!
Some review highlights:
“A little like “In the Heights” crashing into “The Book of Mormon” somewhere along “Avenue Q.”
“The show has the vibrant musical diversity (and welcome multi-ethnic mix) of that first show; the R-rated impudence and unfettered showiness of the second; and, along with the buoyant spirit, the fuzzy puppets of the third.”
“Don’t Tell Me What I Can’t Do” (one of scads of strong tunes by the gifted young composer Benjamin Velez)
“cheeky, salty, irreverent, playfully wicked (even a little scandalous)”
“The most potent musical numbers bookend the piece and provide the most resonance with today”
“You have to be impressed by the palpable energy and ebullience on display”
“fun folklore fantasy that entertains as it touches upon issues that still resonate today.
“This musical has a feverish energy, and biting commentary”
“funny, high energy, bold and brash, deliberately challenging”
“Music by Benjamin Velez, and lyrics by David Kamp, Velez, and Leguizamo have created genre-hopping song infused with salsa, jazz, hip-hop, and more. It's a fitting mix for a show about forced integration of diametrically opposed forces that the show doesn't fit any one musical style.”
“the best part of the show is the songs. Benjamin Velez's music is a rich mix of styles. The melodies please the ear and energize the action”
Thank you to everyone who made this show possible! Including our fabulous director Jaki Bradley, our incomparable music director David Gardos, our brilliant dramaturg Carrie Chapter, our incredible stage manager Lizzy Lee, and the O’Neill’s Alexander Gemignani and Lexy Leuszler for giving us the opportunity in the first place!
I am SO thrilled to share that “Borderline,” my collaboration with book writer Aryanna Garber, will be at the O’Neill National Musical Theater Conference this summer!! We’ll have presentations June 22nd, 23rd, 26th, and 28th, and you can find more information on their official site. More info to come!!
I couldn’t be more thrilled to have our world premiere cast in place for “Kiss My Aztec”. This crazy talented group of superstars will be doing both the Berkeley and La Jolla Productions and I’m excited we get to birth this baby together! Come see us this summer and fall if you’re on the west coast!
Tickets are available at Berkeley Rep’s site and will hopefully go on sale for La Jolla soon!
Super excited to share that “Kiss My Aztec,” my musical with John Leguizamo, David Kamp, and Tony Taccone, will move to La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego in Fall of 2019 after premiering at Berkeley Rep this coming May! Can’t wait to bring it there and honored for the chance to work with everyone at La Jolla!
I’m thrilled to be joining the Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellows program for the 2018/2019 year along with my Borderline collaborator Aryanna Garber! Led by Fellows Program Chairs Michael Korie, Laurence O'Keefe, Diana Son, and Sheri Wilner, I’m excited to be joining this community of artists to workshop new material for the next year.
Check out the announcement on Broadway World!
I'm so excited that this musical I've been working on for over 4 years with Book writer John Leguizamo and Co-lyricist David Kamp (previously "Pain In The Aztec") is finally making it to the stage! The incredible Tony Taccone is bringing our musical to Berkeley Repertory Theater for his final season and it's going to be lit! Check out the write up in Playbill and stay tuned for more updates.
Our Studio Recording of "Borderline" demos have been featured by the Associated Musicians of Greater New York, Local 802 AFM, along with a shout out to our Music Director Dan Green! Thanks again to the Weston Playhouse for producing this recording along with Grammy winner Kurt Deutsch of Sh-K-Boom Records and our sound engineer Angie Teo.
Check out the article on their website, and listen to the demos HERE where you can hear the incredible work of our performers Margo Seibert, Derrick Baskin, Stephen Bogardus, Leo Ash Evens and Katie Thompson. And of course thanks to our Director Michael Berresse and Steve Stettler of Weston who made it all possible!
Excited to share that our first reading of "Pain In the Aztec", produced by the Public Theater, was a success! With Book by John Leguizamo, Music by myself, Benjamin Velez, and Lyrics by John, myself, and David Kamp, this draft has been in development since 2014 and it was wonderful to hear it out loud for the first time!
Thanks to David Gardos, our incomparable Music Director, and our stellar cast: JOEL PEREZ, CARIDAD DE LA CRUZ, CHAD CARSTARPHEN, JESSE J. PEREZ, ELISEO ROMAN, MARIA ELENA RAMIREZ, SOL MARINA CRESPO, JUSTIN GREGORY LOPEZ, and our fabulous Director Tony Taccone!
Excited for what's next!
It was an honor to get to present "Crazy Wonderful" from Borderline at the March 8th BMI Smoker, performed by the fantastic Stephen Bogardus, with David Gardos on piano.
Congrats to everyone who presented, it was a fantastic concert, and thank you to BMI for giving me a chance to showcase the song! Check out the write up on Broadway World HERE.
I'm incredibly excited to announce that our first ever reading of Starblasters will be Tuesday, March 13th at Dixon Place @ 7pm.
We've got an amazing team together and after 3+ years of writing this piece, it'll be amazing to finally hear it out loud.
Music & Lyrics by Benjamin Velez | Book by Katie Hathaway |
TEAM: Director Danny Goldstein | Music Director David Gardos | Produced by Aaron Sanko & Vicki Abeles
CAST: Alysha Umphress, Jeanna De Waal, Dan Domenech, Jon-Michael Reese, Lauren Villegas
I'm honored to share that Borderline has been selected as the 2018 recipient for the Weston Playhouse New Musical Award! Aryanna and I are incredibly excited to get to showcase music and book from the show at two concerts up in Weston and one in NYC.
We're lucky to have an incredible team helping us bring these concerts to life!
Weston Associate Artistic Director Michael Berresse will direct the project with Music Director Daniel Green. The cast includes Margo Seibert (Boardwalk Empire, Broadway’s ROCKY) as Anna, Derrick Baskin (25th ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE, MEMPHIS), Stephen Bogardus (BRIGHT STAR, WHITE CHRISTMAS), Leo Ash Evens (SCHOOL OF ROCK), and Katie Thompson (City Center’s PUMP BOYS AND DINETTES).
Super excited to be presenting 15 minutes of Starblasters through the Musical Theater Factory's 4x15 Presentation, this coming Monday, January 22nd @ 440 Lafayette Street White Box Theater. Working with a phenomenal group of actors as well as Director Sarah Hartmann and Music Director Fernanda Douglas!
Tickets are on sale on the MTF website!
I was lucky to be a part of the recent NAMT Conference (National Alliance for Musical Theater) as part of a mid-day cabaret where Katie Hathaway and I presented 4 songs from Afterland and Starblasters alongside our infinitely talented cohorts, Ben Moss and Emily Skeggs!
Video coming soon, but enjoy this adorable picture of the four of us next to our billing in the meantime!
Excited that "Erica Save Me" from Starblasters was performed at 54 Below on September 7th as part of the 3rd Annual Harvard/Yale Cantata, with alums from Columbia and Princeton partnering up with Harvard/Yale respectively this year to showcase wonderful songwriting work from alums of all four schools! I'm lucky to have Harvard grads Yasmeen Audi and Ben Moss performing the song and they absolutely knocked it out of the park! Thank you to Fernanda Douglas for music directing and accompanying.
Check out the video below!
I had a blast performing several songs from my musical Starblasters as part of the American Popular Song Society's ongoing series. Thank you to the wonderful Yasmeen Audi for bringing my songs to life and for belting duets with me! And thank you to the other writers there, including Joe Iconis and Drew Gasparini.