Pray the Gay Away – serious musical comedy

Public Announcement – Tuesday, April 2, 2019

“Pray the Gay Away” – a serious musical comedy written by Conrad Askland, will premiere November 8-24, 2019 at the Historic Lincoln Theater in Mount Vernon, WA (USA). The show will be produced by TAG (Theater Arts Guild of Skagit County, WA) and directed by Lindsey Bowen and Gabriel Guevara.

Auditions will be June 25-27, 2019 in Mount Vernon, WA. Show information and audition signups are available at https://ptgashow.com. Follow the PTGA 2019 show on Facebook at: https://www.Facebook.com/ptgainfo .

 

Conrad Askland (writer) on “Pray the Gay Away – a serious musical comedy

“Pray the Gay Away” is my fourth full length original musical. My previous musicals were Witches (2012), PAN (2013) and Romeo and Juliet (2015). This project is much more complex than my previous projects. The interplay of the book, music and lyrics is very delicate because of the subject matter. “Pray the Gay Away” is about gay conversion therapy. This story takes place in Minnetonka, Minnesota 1982. It is a story about a church, an emerging LGBQT support group and a family caught in the middle of differing views on gay conversion therapy, sexual identity, politics and theology.

A show is never complete until a public paying audience is in front of it. On the November 8, 2019 premiere is when we will know how the general public views this work. I would anticipate, and it should be obvious with a show dealing with politics, religion and sexual identity, that audience views on this musical may differ wildly.

I can tell you that in our many group readings so far, the material of PTGA is landing as I intended it to land. Readers have been surprised to find out that many of the stereotypes they were expecting in the script, were not there at all. I believe the vision for this story is unique. I also believe that it is told in a way that is very entertaining and moving. The show uses humor to address a painfully serious subject that we are currently dealing with in the United States in different ways. Not just gay conversion therapy, but also the topic of gay conversion therapy in its application to adolescents.

I have been working on the book, music and lyrics of “Pray the Gay Away” for many years. My fear had always been that I was too late to bring this to the stage. Too late to be socially relevant. Too late to make a difference. The sad truth, here in 2019, is that if anything, I am too early in bringing this to the stage. The battle still wages on as strong as it ever has.

It is time to take this topic and bring it to the stage in a new light. The subject of gay conversion therapy needs to be talked about more. It should not, and cannot, be swept under the rug anymore.

This is not a show I want to do. This is a show I have to do. To quote the great 16th century theologian Martin Luther:

“I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen.”
(Martin Luther)

– Conrad Askland (April 2, 2019)

Skagit Impressions Six – Skagit Violin Dance

I composed this piece as part of a music production course for my Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with Berklee College of Music. While taking classes I was on tour as music director with the Cirque du Soleil show Varekai and was fortunate enough to have our violin player from the show, David Piché, record the violin tracks while in Vilnius, Lithuania.

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Tarragona – Solo Piano Improvisation

“Tarragona” is a piano improvisation by Conrad Askland. Recorded July 31, 2017 in Tarragona, Spain.

In this video you can see the far stone wall behind the piano. That stone wall is part of a guard tower that is dated to be at least 800 years old. Used at one point as a guard tower and later as part of a winery.

I thought about the long history of this special place in Spain and let my fingers color the imagination of what I saw in my mind’s eye.

St Clair – New Age Piano Improvisation

“St Clair” is a piano piece for my friend Judy St Clair. Judy and her husband were mentors of mine when I was younger and they guided me through many adventures. Some were sweet and some were painful, but still they were all adventures.

While playing this piece, I was remembering the light and playful camaraderie we had during those times. Style might be called a new age piano improvisation.

Recorded July 31, 2017 in Tarragona, Spain. Part of my “Tarragona Piano Improvisation Sessions” – Audio engineer: Jesus Rovira

Alberti’s Dream – Neo Classical Piano Improvisation

“Alberti’s Dream” is a piano improvisation by Conrad Askland. Recorded July 31, 2017 in Tarragona, Spain.

For this piece, I started with a simple Alberti Bass in Bb and then just followed where it led me.

Session 3-8 of my “Tarragona Piano Sessions” improvisations.

Alberti bass is a particular kind of accompaniment figure in music, often used in the Classical era, and sometimes the Romantic era. It was named after Domenico Alberti (1710–1740), who used it extensively, although he was not the first to use it.

Skagit Impressions Three – Adaptive Layer Battle Theme One

Skagit Impressions Three from the Gary Brown and Conrad Askland project. Farmland photos of Skagit County, WA by Gary Brown with music by Conrad Askland.

This third impression includes my composition “Adaptive Layer Battle Theme One.” This is a five layer composition for use in video game adaptive scoring. Each of the five layers are complete unto themselves, but also layer to create different levels of tension. In a gaming environment these different layers would be triggered in and out by player actions and states of being.

For the Skagit Impressions Three video, each layer builds sequentially. Starting with layer one – then layer one plus layer two – then layer one two and three and so on until all five layers are playing together.

In the video below, I show how this same music might be used in a gaming environment. The layers are used for the different states and actions of a character in the video game Uncharted 3.

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Skagit Impressions Two – Music As Water

Skagit Impressions Two – Music as Water. Photography by Gary Brown. Vocal by Leisha Skinner. Music and Melody by Conrad Askland (ASCAP).

This is the second in the series for the “Gary Brown and Conrad Askland Project” where I take the photography of Gary Brown and create music to accompany his photos. We do this to express our impression of the natural beautiful landscapes and farmlands of Skagit County, WA. This is also the are famous in the spring with tourists for the Skagit County Tulip Festival. There are many photographers that take photos during the tulip season, but Gary Brown takes photos of these landscapes all year long so you get to see different hues and variations of the landscapes.

ON THE MUSIC

The music I wrote for this, which I call “Music as Water” was part of a weekly assignment for a class on Songwriting for TV and Film that I took with Berklee College of Music. The assignment was to write for the least number of instruments possible, with the option of adding a vocal. I chose a piano and vocal arrangement. There is an original piano track and then I added some light fills in the top octave in between the vocal lines.

The music stays in Cm (natural minor) and floats in a 12/8 time signature. When we recording the vocal, we experimented with several different vowel sounds. At the final mix I found myself enjoying the natural “Ah” sound, so that is what you hear in the final mix.

Here is the music as it could work as sync placement in a television series:

 

Where None Would Go – Gettysburg Memorial Song

“Where None Would Go” (Gettysburg Memorial Song) is a piece I wrote to commemorate the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863. This song released July 4, 2016. Words and Music by Conrad Askland. Vocalist: Leisha Skinner. To a variation of the melody “Shenandoah”.

I was inspired to write this song after spending many hours of discussion on the Civil War with my friend, Joe Bowen. He is a scholar of American History where he studied the Civil War at Harvard College. He will setup battle tactics and battle strategies on tables using napkins, playing cards, cups – whatever is around – to really immerse me in details of the Civil War. The conversations usually start with prose, then get into historical details and facts of the battles and politics of the time, then end with philosophical musings, anecdotes and quotes from soldier’s letters.

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Skagit Impressions – Photography and Music

Photography of Skagit County, WA farmlands by Gary L. Brown with piano music and nature sound field recordings by Conrad Askland.

Gary Brown is known locally as one of the premier photographers of surrounding landscapes in the Skagit County farmlands of Washington State in the US Pacific Northwest. He also does excellent live theater photography and has been photographer for many theatrical shows that I have been involved in locally. A few months ago he took me out on a photo shoot with him to hunt for different sunlight, shadows and cloud formations after a local rain shower. It was incredible to get a sense of how he views our local land through his lens.

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Q&A: Romeo and Juliet rendition questions

These are questions I received about my musical “Romeo and Juliet”. My musical version of RJ premiered in January 2015 at the Historic Lincoln Theatre in Mount Vernon, WA. Directed by Joe Bowen and presented by META Performing Arts. The challenge set for this production was to score the entire musical using only Shakespeare’s original text. No watering down the words. No slang and updated lyrics. And no hipster modern setting. We set the set and costumes to the original Shakespeare time period of the late 16th century. It was a very challenging project and extremely fulfilling. Here’s a link to check out original musicals by Conrad Askland.

How have you adapted the themes of the play to adapt and suit the modern day audience and politics?

Yes and no. In my rendition,  I use Shakespeare’s original words. For the premiere run I requested period costumes and sets (1590’s). Of course, a future company could choose to change that approach, but to me those considerations are superficial. To my personal taste, those changes detract instead of adding to the production. Musically, I scored the show in a combination of North American Broadway style and light opera. So it was the music itself that was tailored to a musical theatre crowd while the text and presentation was true to the period in which it was written.

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Los Dorkos – Americano Pharaoh (The Donald Trump Song)

Los Dorkos perform Americano Pharaoh (The Donald Trump Song). I wrote the song and produced it for them and it was so much fun to work on. I’m interested to see reaction to the song. It’s a novelty song and like with musical theater, you never quite know how it’s going to land until you put it in front of an audience. Humor is a fine line between what is funny to one and not another. So here it is, just released today – let’s find out what happens…

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The Project Management Song

The Project Management song by Conrad Askland.

I wrote this as part of a Project Management class I took with Berklee School of Music. I am currently working on some massive long term projects and took this class to refine my skills in project management. It was well worth it and I highly recommend the class. I’m pretty sure this is probably the first dance song ever written about Project Management.