Tony nominated for A Christmas Story, The Musical, Pasek and Paul brought years of composing experience to the students of Act Two @ Levine’s pre-professional students. They began working together at the University of Michigan and have gone on to write Dogfight, Edges, and a musical adaptation of James and the Giant Peach. Most recently, their songs were heard on season two of NBC’s Smash.
Pasek and Paul spoke to the students about their start. “We began our careers thinking we’d be performers,” said Justin Paul. “But as time went on, we decided to write a review our sophomore year of college and that started us on the path of writing.”
Six students performed for the duo including Rachel Schindler, Liam Allen, Gillian Jackson Han, Marc Paven, Amanda Silverstein and Max Fowler.
“Getting to sing one of their own pieces for them was simultaneously exciting and terrifying, said Liam Allen who sang ‘Along the Way’ from Pasek and Paul’s Edges. “Their critique was very specific and informative since they knew the piece better than I ever could.”
Gillian Jackson Han completely changed the delivery of The Secret Garden’s ‘How Could I Ever Know’ after Benj Pasek suggested she make the song into a conversation. She remarked, “It was a shock to everything I’ve learned. I trusted them but it was like jumping off a cliff. ”
They urged performers to take the words on the page to help make important choices as an actor and communicate the story in the best way possible. They want actors to think of themselves as playwrights, knowing everything about their situation.
“The pre-professional program gives students opportunities not typically found in high school theatre programs” said K.W. Kuchar, Act Two @ Levine’s Artistic Director. “Pasek and Paul are another example of the consistent quality training and experiences musical theatre students receive in the program.”
As resident partners at Strathmore, Levine Music expanded their musical theatre offerings in 2010, and with Act Two @ Levine began full scale productions and pre-professional training.
The Act Two @ Levine’s pre-professional season kicks off with the upcoming production of Spring Awakening, playing at Arena Stages Kogod Cradle Theater from January 9-11, 2015.
Pasek and Paul’s website.