Scroll down and you’ll see a list of all my writing reference books that I use for preparing new musical theater works. I’ve read each of these books cover to cover and some I have read many, many times over and over. I do have some favorites in this list but I’m not listing them in any particular order because what you get from each book may be wildly different than what I learned from each book. We all have “holes” in our knowledge which is different for everyone. For me, these books helped fill in the holes of my knowledge with a deeper understanding of structure, character arcs and story development.
A couple of these books I’ve had for many years but most of these I read in 2018-2019 in preparation for my fourth original musical. This latest musical was widely considered by audience members to be my strongest musical theater work yet. I put the credit to many factors, but mostly it came down to really, really hard work and understanding the content in these books at a gut level.
So I earned a couple degrees: Bachelor of Professional Studies from Berklee College of Music and a Master in Arts Leadership and Cultural Management (MALCM) from Colorado State University. I actually just finished these in the last couple years so I’m what they refer to as a “mature learner”. Was it worth it? In short, yes. Does anyone really care? Not really.
Both my degrees were earned online. One of the reasons I didn’t finish my degrees many years ago is that in my line of work you often get a call for a tour with a short window of prep time. If I was back in a brick and mortar school and I got the call for a gig then I would have had to turn the gig down (or drop out of school to do the tour). I didn’t want just any degree. I wanted a degree I felt proud of (or at least wasn’t embarrassed by). There is one well-known online university that I didn’t want to sign up with because every time I imagined writing down the name of the university, well, it was not a feeling of pride. No, I won’t mention that school name because I’m “nice”.
On Thursday January 30, 2020, the Historic Lincoln Theatre will show Pray the Gay Away® the musical on the big screen. This event is free and open to the public. Join us as we celebrate the cast and crew that brought this new theatrical work to the stage at the very same Lincoln Theatre. Doors open at 6:30pm and showing starts at 7pm. Open festival seating, first-come first-served and it’s free!
We will have some limited edition merchandise for sale to benefit our local chapter of Skagit PFLAG and the writer, Conrad Askland, will be on hand to meet audience members.
Pray the Gay Away® the musical sold out at the Lincoln back in November 2019, so this is your chance to see it if you couldn’t get tickets back then. We felt so bad turning so many people away when it sold out, so please join us! PTGA brought the painful world of gay conversion therapy to the stage that was a hit with audiences.
It all started in Skagit County at the Lincoln Theatre. Join us for a celebration of the cast and crew that brought this show to the stage.
All shows SOLD OUT! Pray the Gay Away® the musical Nov. 8-24, 2019 at Lincoln Theatre in Mount Vernon, WA. I am thrilled at the overwhelming support and ticket demand for my fourth original full-length musical.
Thank you so much to our Pacific Northwest audiences for supporting this show and its mission. Its become bigger than we ever could have imagined. We are in a whirlwind with all the comments and social media buzz coming in. It’s overwhelmingly beautiful.
We do know one thing: audiences are hungry for the experience and message of this show. It is obvious that somehow this show needs to reach more people. We have confidence the people of the Pacific Northwest will find a way to make that happen. The Great People of the Pacific Northwest. You are the best!
The first review is in from La Conner Weekly News on the premiere run of Pray the Gay Away® the musical at the Historic Lincoln Theatre in Mount Vernon, WA from Nov. 8-24, 2019. Thank you to Ken Stern for taking the time to watch our show and write the review.
‘Pray the Gay Away” a must see
“By definition world premieres are ambitious. This one is audacious.”
“This is a colorful, high energy production that had a supportive full house audience applauding throughout.”
“This play is a powerhouse of history and current events”
Show photos from opening night of Pray the Gay Away® the musical on Friday, November 8th, 2019 at the Historic Lincoln Theatre in Mount Vernon, WA. Presented by Theater Arts Guild. Book, Music and Lyrics by Conrad Askland. Photos by Gary Brown.
Cascadia Weekly: The play takes place in the 1980s. Same-sex marriage is now legal, and people have more rights than they used to regarding who they love. That said, what do you think the similarities are between now and then when it comes to accepting people for who they are?
Conrad Askland: The reason I am doing this production is that what you are saying should be true. We should be on the “other side” of this issue. The truth is, gay conversion therapy is still being widely practiced in the United States, and the Supreme Court is currently deciding whether the Civil Rights Act applies to the LGBTQ+ community. I personally do not see this as just an issue of gay rights, I see it as an issue of basic human rights, which the LGBTQ+ community should be fully a part of. This divide, this dehumanization, is part of the citizens of the United States defining what our culture is and what we want to stand for.
What would you most like people to know about this show and why they should experience it?
(Conrad) I think people have preconceived notions about what the content of the show is and its viewpoint…and I think most everyone is wrong. I’ve workshopped the material with a wide variety of focus groups to test the material. I always ask two questions: “Is there any place where you feel this show attacks the church?” and “Is there any place where you think this show attacks God?” Every single person in our workshops, over one hundred in all, have said no to both questions. If they had said yes, then I would have made changes. The show is not meant to preach, but to put opposing viewpoints and experiences on stage and let audiences make up their own minds. So in that way it doesn’t have a particular stance — but with the combination of music it will be very emotional for people and give them something to talk about within the community. Especially within churches. Of course, audiences are the final ones to have opinions and we will find those out on opening night.
Afterwards, I sat down with the mastermind, creative and musical director Conrad Askland, to talk this timely play, from inception to world premiere production. This is Askland’s fourth full-length musical and, he said, “by far my best work.” Askland took a two-year hiatus from his career as musical director for Cirque du Soleil and Rock of Ages to write and develop “Pray the Gay Away.” “It is not the show I want to do but the show I have to do,” he says rather openly and humbly. “The is a story that has to be told. We are seeing a roll back in the rights of the LGBTQ community. It’s not just gay rights, it’s about human rights.”
Thank you to Entertainment News Northwest (ENNW) magazine for doing a cover story on my fourth original full-length musical Pray the Gay Away®. Read the ENNW November 2019 cover story article on their website at https://www.ennw.info/
And a big thank you to Marla Bronstein who took the time to attend our rehearsals and interview cast members in preparation for this story. The world premiere of Pray the Gay Away® the musical will run Nov 8-24, 2019 at the Historic Lincoln Theatre in Mount Vernon, WA. More show info on the official PTGA play site at https://ptgashow.com/
Entertainment News Northwest November 2019 cover story
Pray the Gay Away® at the historic Lincoln Theatre
By Marla Bronstein
Pray the Gay Away (PTGA) is an original musical that is best described as a serious musical comedy. Its world premiere, 3-week run open s November 8, 2019 at the historic Lincoln Theatre in Mount Vernon, WA.