Just We Two – A New Musical
Click on Just We Two to hear the title song from the show. Music by Dennis Chandler, lyrics by Larry Brenner.
The Premiere of “Just We Two – A New Musical” was at the play’s out-of-town two-day tryout at Tallmadge High in Ohio last October. When the play goes on… (And “the play must go on!” it’s that good critics say)… this info will be edited down for his Playbill paragraph. But, in the meanwhile this back story makes for interesting reading, we’re told.
Dennis Chandler’s Dedication
As the composer of this musical, Dennis will dedicate its World Premiere to the wonderfully generous teachers he has had.
This musician has had a crazy quilt of life experiences. But, that’s why he feels blessed to be able to make ALL the music he loves and in the VARIOUS styles that he loves. That’s due, in no small part, to the following folks he met along his way in the world.
First, as a very young performer in the schoolyards of Cleveland… Dennis was taught stage presence, blocking and entertaining-in-general by his first show business coach and mentor ARLENE BLANK RICH. She was the director of “KYW ROADSHOW” back when student-Dennis joined that youthful troupe. Being it was his formative years Dennis Chandler aka “The Ed-U-Tainer” feels he owes it all to her; this enjoyment of “Educating While Entertaining“. Arlene, by the way is also known as Mrs. BERNI RICH. He is the famed local photographer who was first to photograph BARBRA STREISAND during her early days of performing.
Speaking of earlier days … Back in the day when he was laid up; Dennis dreamed of and wrote music for Barbra Streisand! To explain, some of that music that he wrote from the top-of-his-head while his body below was healing (from chemos for leukemia) has been recorded and just added to this website. The page is titled “Original Music & More” and will be a repository of sorts. Look for that “first song for Streisand” under the title of “Let Me Be Your Song“. Oh, from our lips to G_d’s ear. Or at the very least, Barbra Streisand’s ears. It could happen, no?
Now, guess what else? Mrs. Rich, albeit she’s retired, is still expert in GENEALOGY. So maybe someday, we will figure out how all this plays out, so to speak.
By the way, at one of his “First-Wednesday-of-Every-Month Wiggins Gig” on Menorah Campus composer-Dennis did play music from “Just We Two” to rave reviews. Talk ’bout road-testing the music… read: Road Show testing…get it? Wait’ll Miss Arlene comes there next and hears his stage music.
Back to About Being Blessed With Good Teachers
As a very young guitarist… Dennis was invited by bluesmen Bo Diddley, Lonnie Mack, Chuck Berry and B.B. King to sit at their knee and learn the blues the way they were taught… in the Oral Tradition. That’s why he knows so well… how to play the blues.
As a young trained pianist… Dennis was coached by piano legends Roger Williams, Ferrante & Teicher and Andre Previn and on the B3… master organist Bill “Honky Tonk” Doggett. Imagine learning all that music from America’s Golden Age firsthand from such great musicians.
Now as he hopes his musicals will be mounted, composer-Dennis also dedicates them to another special group of talent. These folks coached him, but in a different way. To explain, it was in 1990, at the National Leukemia Telethon, that he first met the following stars of stage, screen, television and the written word … the late, great Steve Allen, his wife Jayne Meadows, along with Florence Henderson, Shirley Jones and her husband Marty Ingels. They were there as show hosts, helping to raise funds for cancer research.
Dennis, who had battled and beat acute myeloid leukemia, was the only featured adult survivor and was being interviewed about his near death experience. They all told him he must do more with what he was given back by God. But, it was after playing piano that Steve Allen told Dennis, “God brought you back for a reason. I would love to hear what you are going to write now!” Thank you, God. Here, You are… and Steve Allen, hear you go.
October 14th & October 15th, 2011 WORLD PREMIERE
“Just We Two – A New Musical” had its World Premier at the new beautiful “Theatre at Tallmadge High” here in Ohio. Both nights of this two day out-of-town try-out in Tallmadge drew standing ovations and soaring hopes to take the show all the way to Broadway. Thank you to director Frank Chaff, the talented cast of grade schoolers, high schoolers, young college and community actors who helped present this musical. Finally, for “Spot On” accompaniment… we again give Kudos to the following professional musicians: drummer John Mosconi, bassist Dan Horswell and guitarist Michael Dragas Jr. Your time, talent and tenaciousness are appreciated, still.
Now what’s needed next? Angels of the New York theatre-type (can you say Tom Hanks, Oprah, Whoopie or Harvey as in Fierstein?) … OR… grants as in the Genius-type grants (can you say MacArthur Grant?)
2012 Update… No News Is Good News?
Meaning… Haven’t heard from director FRANK CHAFF IV; sure he’s moved on. Nor a peep from playwright-turned-producer Larry Brenner. Perhaps, they’ve embarked on their own YELLOW BRICK ROAD. So, we find Dennis waiting in the wings, not. He’s moving on. To what the next big project to write music for? Only the Lord knows. (Read page titled “Prophesy for Dennis”)
Take away lessons from this? Can’t tell yet. Waiting for the movie to come out. Literally, for there was a two-camera setup (but maybe editing takes longer these days). Film doesn’t lie. Put another way, “the proof is in the pudding”. Dennis says he’d like his dose… he can take it. (THAT, we know.) ‘Tis said, “We die daily” (that’s how we grow).
Going back in time… A CRITIC’S PREVIEW: “The music of ‘JUST WE TWO’ is MAGNIFICENT!… Its MUSIC IS GREAT ON ITS OWN, SO IT IS INEVITABLE THAT SOMEONE WILL RISE UP TO THE TOP OF THIS SHOW! BRAVO, composer Chandler and playwright Brenner!” George Foster, NORTH CAROLINA OPERA
Going back in time… HOW GOOD ARE THE SONGS? We were told by the playwright that the critic said if not enough actors were found to do it as a stage play, it should still be done. Perhaps as a musical revue with all 22 songs? This was said after the critic heard only just a few of the songs. The critic and the director both feel this FAMILY piece with its message is sorely needed today.
Going back in time… ABOUT AUDITION REACTIONS: When the show was being finally cast, THE SONGS ELICITED TEARS and THEN SPONTANEOUS APPLAUSE from those auditioning and from THOSE ATTENDING THE AUDITIONS. That boded well for the music. For example, Composer Chandler was delighted when a six year old IMMEDIATELY PICKED UP the melody of one particularly (he thought) difficult song. She got the melody IN SECONDS. Sang it straightaway; full out. It wasn’t even her song. It was always his intention to make this play’s music MEMORABLE. He thought, “Out of the mouths of babes”?
Currently… STILL A GOOD PREMISE: THIS PLAY is based on a situation EVERYONE CAN RELATE TO. A loved one lying in a bed in a hospital room. The play begins with family members coming into the room to visit. They are then seen one by one, pondering and reflecting upon their life together with the patient. Emotions come back in flashbacks, emotions come in the moment. They lament. They cajole. They sing their hearts out with their respective “SHOUDA-WOULDA-COUDAS”. Again, everyone will relate to this play.
FYI & Bears Repeating… Book & Lyrics were written with humor and pathos by former syndicated cartoonist-turned playwright, Larry Brenner. It is semi-autobiographical for both lyricist and composer. First, the lead character as a writer working with words… wants to be taken seriously… delivers his dialogue in short sing-song syllables. Then, he acts out in lyrical laments… singing all his own “SHOULD-WOULDA-COULDAS”.
The music was written by Composer Dennis Chandler who wanted all 22 songs to be MELODIC. Even the few rock ‘n’ roll songs are in an older more traditional “MELODIC BROADWAY STYLE”.
For all time… OUT OF TRAGEDY COMES ART (Again) (?) FIRST, for Dennis came DEBORAH OSMENT’S script titled “RULING PASSION – A MUSICAL COMEDY ABOUT RICHARD III”. The music was first written in his head, while he was bed-bound. Wanting to return to life before cancer (how could one ever do that, one may ask). But, Dennis did go on to do business but not as usual.
The prejudice was so great back then for people with “the C word”. For the financial devastation alone, he had to put “the Day Job” first; “his music” second.
It was a long time before Dennis could pull forward this other pot of music bubbling on the-backburner-of-his-brain, so to speak. But, how to stir it anew? Then Brenner came back into his life after overcoming his own health hurdles (which included testicular cancer). He told Dennis he had finished what they both started so long ago. Dennis said, he thinks he’s just really beginning to understand the DEEP MEANING OF THIS PLAY FOR HIM. Talk about mental blocks.
Well, they made it. Out of tragedy comes art. These two survivors “Know from whence they speak!”
It now appears the “Prophecy for Dennis” that Mrs. Lou Kassouf was “given from above” and “written down” so long ago… has finally begun. (Lou was a neighbor here in North Hill we had known just from Dennis having played piano for her. But, she shared how she had prayed for him. Music has such power. We look forward to what else it can do!)
Liz Chandler, Website Writer