Saturday, September 5, 2009

The best (and worst) compliment..

Walking by my son as he was doing homework on my laptop computer, I recognized lyrics I'd written coming out of the tinny little speakers: "From the minute I get up until I go to bed at night/I have to do what they say or it turns into a fight." I stopped in my tracks. He was listening to a recording of the New York staged reading!

Surprised, I asked, "Is that the only thing I have on iTunes?"

"The only good thing," he mumbled, going on with his work. I was shocked! I was pleased! What a compliment from a 12-year-old boy!

Today, while we were cleaning house, he shut off the vacuum cleaner for a moment and told me, "I've got the B-song in my head: 'They make me clean the closet floors and vacuum every stair...'" I couldn't have been more proud... but I felt a little sinking feeling in my stomach. I mean, in the song, Ashley's singing about her really mean stepsisters. And I'm a nice mom. I'm working side by side with him. But he just seemed happy to have a song in his head, effectively whistling while he worked. He riffed on "The Big Bitch" as I turned the rugs, turning the B-word into itch and twitch as he sang. (Censoring my lyrics. Adorably.)

But later this evening, when we got into an argument about homework, he really threw it in my face. On the edge of anger, he said through clenched teeth, "I want to sing your own song at you! Your expectations are too low; your standards are too high! Or... something like that."

Ouch! The first little sting of hormonal venom! (In my defense, if you can call it that, I was actually bribing him to learn all the state capitols.)

On the one hand, I feel hugely inflated and grandly validated that my lyrics managed to get stuck in the head of a pre-teen! (Positive market research!)

Oh the other hand... oh why did it have to be my own kid?!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

SMBPR Scoop #3

The SMBPR Scoop

Greetings FOTMs,

July 2009

My midsummer pause gives me a moment to catch up on musical news...

Queen for a Day 

My brother, aunt, and uncle literally bowed down to me on March 1st, after they finally got to see the musical madness that's been playing in my heads all these years. The "Couch Reading" was held in the fabulous living room of Leah and Gyorgy Vass. A huge thank you to everyone (details here) who put effort into this festive afternoon. Michael and I learned so much from our talented cast and audience.

Are you a fan on facebook? Did you see it? Post a review!

The morning after, we dove right into the painful process of rewriting that readings tend to provoke, like headaches after weddings. We wrote every scene on post-its and taped them on a giant piece of paper, rearranging them as confusions cleared up. Unfortunately, our newest song, Queen for a Day had to go (details here), but the new rewrite (details here) eventually came together a few months later. Now there's even a fresh rewrite of part two (Mirror Imag(in)e) waiting in the wings for music.

We're Official

Shoes, a Mirror, and a Big, Pink Rose now has an official fiscal sponsor. What this means is that any donations to this project may now be made payable to Fractured Atlas to be tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. If you know anyone looking for an arts project to nurture, send them our way. If you'd like to make a donation to this summer's Compose-A-Thon, it will help us complete the music and scoring needed to prepare this story for the stage. Just click on the big shoe below.

And so we plug away... hoping to finish by the time the economy recovers... Be well...
Kristen Caven & Michael O'Dell

"Shoe Biz"

SMBPR is now a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Arts donations are now tax-deductible.
Since giving back is such an important part of life, THE SOULS OF HER FEET will henceforth help shoe the shoeless. Read more.

Compare Notes

Now, "The Truth or Dare Waltz" is becoming a Vienna Waltz... listen. It's barely scored yet, but ...
What do you think? Tell us!

Everywhere but on stage...

Are you a fan yet?

You never know where a new pair of shoes will take you....

© Kristen Caven 2009 Creative Commons License

Monday, June 1, 2009

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Roll Credits!

It was raining... I was drunk on champagne... there was no time or budget for a program... OKAY, no more excuses!

Here are the many people responsible for the success of the Souls of Her Feet “Couch Reading” on March 1st!

Narrator.....Me (Kristen Caven)
Ashley.....Sarah Aili
Donna.....Chelsea Robinson
Debra.....Mary Gibboney
Linda....Caitlin Ayers
Sylvia.....Caroline Altman
Harry.....Michael Strelo-Smith*
Jeff.....Edward Hightower
Coach.....Bill Fahrner
Heckler.....Claudia Bauer
Midnight Mouse.....Michael O’Dell

Piano.....Michael O’Dell

*with a little assistance from Michael O’Dell

Hostess.....Leah Slyder Vass
Host.....Gyorgy Vass
Head Chef.....Ana Negrao
House (Louise Hart)
Food Styling.....Leah Slyder Vass
Set Design.....Leah Slyder Vass
Video......Dave Caven, Gyorgy Vass
Pre-Production Assistant.....Caitlin Ayers
Hotel.....Rich and Vicki Luibrand

Thank you Leah for Caroline and Michael S-S; Michael S-S for Chelsea, thank you Caroline for Bill, and thank you to R.C. Staab for Edward, Sarah, and Mary!

Huge appreciation for the collaboration, encouragement, and support of my wonderful family and friends—it was HUGE to be able to share this with you. Thanks everyone for bringing cupcakes and champagne. And thanks also to the cooperative enthusiasm of this generous and capable cast! (I continue to get compliments on your talent!)

Also thanks everyone for your donations, comments and feedback—your input helped further the development of the story and music! (Especially Ed, our very elastic sounding-board.) You helped us take a very BIG STEP!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Big Step: Fiscal Sponsorship!

It has finally come to my attention that writing a musical costs a load of money. Thank goodness for Fractured Atlas, “a non-profit organization that serves a national community of artists and arts organizations.” They have agreed to sponsor Shoes, a Mirror, and a Big, Pink Rose, meaning YOUR donations to SMBPR are now fully tax-deductible under their non-profit status.

So, if you’re wondering what to do with that pile of cash you’ve got laying around...

Or, if you have any best friends who are arts patrons looking for a good project to nurture along... send ‘em this link:

After we raise $1000 we are eligible to apply for arts grants.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Dare to Compare

Listen to how our "chase scene song" is evolving. Last year, "Dare to Waltz" sounded like this...
Click here for "Dare to Waltz"

Now, "The Truth or Dare Waltz" is becoming a Vienna Waltz... it's barely scored yet, but...
Click here for "The Truth or Dare Waltz"

What do you think? Leave a comment or email us.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


lyrics © Kristen Caven
music © Michael O'Dell

ASHLEY: QUEEN for a Day Queen FOR a Day Queen for A Day Queen for a DAAAY.
[Ashley picks up the books that she brought in and shelves them in silence. She picks out a few new books.]
[mocking a trumpet fanfare]
[silly singsong] Queen for a Daaaay!
[sings] If I were queen for just one day, I’d be… “mother of the nation.”
I can’t imagine what I’d say to give the world a real vacation from the troubles that it’s in

[speaks/types] Like global warming – what a nightmare, nuclear proliferation, illegal arms deals, carjacking, corporate greed, homelessness, helplessness, poverty, the spiraling costs of heathcare…[misspells and corrects typing] whoops, healthcare…

If I were queen for just a day, imagine how the world could change…
There’s so much crap to rearrange

But being queen for one short day wouldn’t give me that much power.
Change takes time, there is no way I could get that much done in only twenty-four hours!
And further…I believe in democracy so I’d change laws with hesitation,
But I’d use my aristocracy to speak my truth and offer inspiration!

What I’d do to get through to the people who are stuck like glue in their shit, and should quit, take some time to look at it—at the clutter in their minds, it’s like butter in their veins clogging up their hearts, tear away the broken chains, get a start on growing pains!

I would instate a ban on hate and try to change our fate and activate the greatness in the soul
of everyone I serve! I would preach them back to nature, so they’d learn to nurture, mend the
sutures of a family torn apart by death... I mean… a world…

[sighs, types a moment, then sings]
If I were queen…
For just a day…

When you try to clean with Drano and mix it with Liquid Plumber, the explosive fumes can kill you like they did my loving mother. And my father died from cancer from his toxic body burden from a life in an environment filled with fossil fumes...

And the money that dad left us goes in circles back to plastic that will be here many eons after we have left the earth.

[A door SLAMS open. DEBRA and DONNA enter stage right carrying cans of soda, bags of chips, and magazines. Donna is blabbing into a cordless phone and hovers near Ashley, pawing carelessly through the stacks of laundry Ashley has just folded. Debra clears a pile of bags off the sofa in one grand swoop and flops down where it was to channel-surf. Donna talks rapidly, non-stop, her ideas clashing with Ashley’s as they sing simultaneously.]

DONNA: [speaking] If I were queen for a day, just think of everything I’d own! “Queen Donna Brown” for just a day—can you see me on the throne? (Oh, totally!)

If I were queen for a day I’d SO wear the most exquisite gowns, and ride in an open convertible (it’s gotta be red), with gloves past my elbow and wave! People would totally curtsey to me and go, “Yer Majisty this” and “Yer majesty that” And I’d be all— and it would be totally rad.

ASHLEY: [sings] If I were queen for just a day imagine how the world could change…there’s so much crap to rearrange!

[types/speaks] If I were queen for a day I’d SO call on the cities and towns to energize every constituent with love and the power to save the people who need a free lunch now and then —

[shouts at Donna] What are you, SIX?

DONNA: [ignoring her] Speaking of which, did you see in the latest issue of Mirabella they had those thigh-high stockings with the ribbing—[stops to breathe more than to listen]—no not those, those were cute too but I don’t like wide stripes, they make my legs look too fat—

[Ashley turns back to her text conversation with Linda]

DONNA: ...but the other ones with the butterflies, yeah, I almost rushed out and bought them but I’ve maxed out my credit card again and plus I probably can’t get them in my size, since my thighs are only sixteen inches [breathes] so I’ll talk to you later, K? —K! — Bye.

ASHLEY: [texts/speaks] If I were Q4aD I’d have my stepsister strangled w/ a thigh-high stocking.


"One Little Step" for Ashley...

...One giant leap for SOULS!

Our "Couch Reading" did just what it needed to do. It gave Michael and I a chance to watch our play from start to finish and see how it was working. The audience loved it—we got enthusiastic reviews, but it was clear the story and music still needed development. In the following week, we ruthlessly (but lovingly) tore the story apart and pieced it back together again. The amount of exposition was embarrasing! We realized we needed to pack more into the opening scene and tighten up the plotting.

At first it was brutal. I could not figure out how to pack all the setup we needed into an efficient new opening number. Michael did his best to hold my hand through it (long-distance), and we got some great insights and advice from Ed, one of our way-too-talented cast members. Eventually the best advice I got was "Stop thinking so much." Oh, right! That very weekend I managed to weave "One Little Step," our new opening song, into an engaging opening sequence that shows how annoying the stepsisters are. Goodbye "Ashley, here's my Nancy Ganz!" Hello, "Oh my god, Ashley, you're so ADD!"

Another sad goodbye for the lyrics for "Ashley's Blues," the first number Michael wrote, but they no longer seemed relevant to a stronger heroine's story. "Girls Like Me" is now the turning point of the story, where Ashley decides to take a chance on Harry... and Jeff. Harry's first "Fairy Godwhatever" song is now called "Teen Pregnancy," in which he decides to research "late-term adoptions," and Jeff's love song is more fully developed.

Now we need to see if we can weave Michael's music back into the story. I can't wait to hear how the "Truth or Dare Waltz" fleshes out. That was one moment in the reading where everyone reported goosebumps.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Milk and Harry

Even though I voted in the home office pool for Sean Penn to win the Oscar for Milk, I didn't know how well he deserved that statue until tonight. What a performance. What a story. Creepy how we seem to be re-living it this year...(creepier that Prop 8 passed while Prop 6 failed).

So it was fun to see the familiar faces on screen. There's DiFi as a baby, Tom Brokaw. There's Tom Amiano in a cameo, hollering for justice. And there's this guy who walks by the window just before the tragic Jack shows up the first time, encouraging Harvey to win. I had to stop and replay the DVD.

Sure enough, it's Brian Yates Sharber, our very first Harry! He sung the original demo of "If the Shoe Fits" and all the "Get mad, girl" lines on "The Big Bitch." (What a day that was, hearing this voice that had been in my head for so long, coming out of such a vital throat!) There he is, making his film debut in my very own living room. His name comes up in the credits as "Gay Man." (Oh, HE's the gay man in Milk! I knew there was one in there somewhere!)

So a shoutout to "Yates," you were and are fabulous. I love how each larger-than-life actor brings something new to Harry, especially as the story develops. In the novelization, for example, Harry now has six toes, an homage to Brian. He got a stage name (Carrie Daweigh) inspired by Keith Levy/Sherry Vine. And Michael Strelo-Smith's donation of a pair of converse sneakers became a magic talisman that showed me how to connect Ashley with her dead father.

But enough trivia. Let's talk about Harvey Milk. All I really registered in 5th or 6th grade was that Anita Bryant was not as good as she seemed in the o.j. commercials. Somehow, from that point on, I managed to grow up in a "hate state" without the slightest belief, ever, that being gay was wrong in any way. And somehow, even more miraculously, this character Harry found a voice and came to life. Hopefully Harry will carry ("Carrie?") on Harvey's work with his own passion for personal expression and self-fulfillment.

Here's to all the past and future Harrys, whoever you may be; May you bring hope and joy to those around you as your own wonderful selves.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

"Souls" supports Soles4Soles

"Ah, shoes! Magnificent shoes! The power, the pleasure of glorious shoes!" Harry & Chorus

There are people in the world who don't have shoes. For all the love and admiration this musical has for shoes, it seems right that it should help some of them out. Henceforth, all fans and audiences of The Souls of Her Feet will be invited to donate a pair of shoes to This organization started by collecting shoes for hurricane and tsunami victims; they have since distributed to desperate (and barefoot) people in over 50 countries on 5 continents.
"We are footwear people to the core. We love all types of footwear, from sleek running shoes to stylish pumps, from rugged work boots to the coolest sandals on the beach. But the reward of buying a new pair of shoes simply cannot compare to the joy of giving a pair of shoes to someone in need. These shoes are treasured beyond description, and it's at that very moment that we understand just how awesome shoes can be.
Can't make it to the show? Don't want to schlep your shoes to the theater? Click here to find a donation station near you.

Don't throw worn-out shoes away, either! Nike recycles old tennis shoes. Click here to find your local drop-off location.

"Whatever you do, you're on a path, be it to town or Timbuktu, so blue, ecru, or any hue, your shoes give you direction, that is very true!" —Harry

Friday, January 30, 2009

SMBPR Scoop #2

The SMBPR Scoop
Greetings FOTMs, January 2009

Happy New Year! Here's an update about your favorite new non-princesses.

Two steps back, three steps foreward

If there's one thing the creative process teaches us, it's that we need to take our time. When we started writing together four years ago this May, we figured we'd be done by that December, and on Broadway the following spring. Hah! So last fall when I wrote you that we would be "forging ahead through the next two acts," well, we didn't' forge very far. There was a rewrite... but it wasn't the right rewrite... so then there was another. And now it's a whole now show!

For Christmas Kristen got a copy of Steven Schwartz's bio -- and is comforted to know that even WICKED, which seemed to burst on the world fully-formed, went through the grinding rewrites and revisions we realize we are facing over the next whatever, until opening night. (Some days, just the idea that we're doing this feels to me like "defying gravity!")
Read what's new in the story.

Together Again

Michael's relocation to New York taught us how to collaborate long-distance, but it's nothing like hanging out around a piano together! He got a gig on a new show here in the Bay Area, which means we have some time to develop all these new songs I wrote! The writing is going really well. We hope to have some new demo tunes by the end of the month.

Save the date: If all goes well, we hope to cobble together a reading on March 1st to put it the new story together for the first time. If you're in the Bay Area, write me today if you are interested in seeing it, and/or can help out, volunteer your your living room (piano required), or have an 'in' with a dark theater.

Cross Your Fingers

Between rewrites, Kristen's been writing grants and applying for festivals. We'll post any good news as it comes in. Meanwhile, Michael is applying for the graduate program in musical theater at Tisch and hopes to start there this fall. Please keep your eyes out for opportunities to develop new musicals, and please send us your good thoughts!
As our economy tanks and everything shifts around, we must remind ourselves to stay focused on our passions. Someday things will straighten out, and then... watch out, world.
Kristen Caven & Michael O'Dell

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© Kristen Caven 2009 Creative Commons License