Sunday night, Bill Coyne and Authenteur, Inc. presented MUSEMATCH XIV at The Green Room 42. That’s fourteen in Roman numerals (I had to look it up). Fourteen times, Mr. Coyne and his production company have produced this creative marvel, this workshop invention subtitled A MUSICAL THEATER BLIND DATE. And there’s no reason why there shouldn’t be a fifteenth part, or, frankly, as many as Coyne and company can bring themselves to make as long as they want from nothing. It is undeniably one of the most creative, original and entertaining inventions to come out of the cabaret and concert community to date. And it’s always for a good cause. To date, every episode of MUSEMATCH has benefited an organization in need of financial support.
The concept is simple: a musical theater composer/lyricist is matched with a musical theater performer, the strangers spend some time getting to know each other through a series of chats, and the songwriter creates a song based entirely on what they learned from their date to have. When the artists complete their mission, Mr. Coyne and the MUSEMATCH team go full-on with Judy and Mickey and put on a show. Friends and family are coming, of course, but after fourteen parts the organization has built up some fans of the series who come just to see and hear what the latest MUSEMATCH creations are.
At Sunday night’s concert, around thirteen new songs were presented with minimal speaking time by presenter Coyne, who has an amiable demeanor and has enough experience of the show to know his job isn’t to talk – it’s to set the night up , talk about the charity, introduce the band and let the singers do their thing. And that’s exactly what Coyne did, while musical director Natan Dame led the way musically – the individual songwriters don’t play for the actors, although they sit up front. For exactly sixty minutes, thirteen talented actors took center stage and told their own stories in songs written especially for them, which is a wonderful thing to say, an honor indeed. The compositions offered an interesting insight into the person behind the voice, sometimes silly, sometimes sad, maybe wacky, quirky or oddly interesting. While some of the songs achieved greater goals artistically and aesthetically, it was undeniable that any of the actors whose lives inspired the new artworks have a right to stand up to a microphone and sing. Whether or not the songs created for MUSEMATCH have a life after performance is unimportant; It is important that all artists have a safe place to spread out, spread their wings and grow. They all did something, made something and presented that something to an audience. That’s not nothing. What happens at MUSEMATCH has its value.
Topics the songwriters worked with included caring for dogs, shower safety, a new niece, a father, a dentist, mountaineering and Target…the store, not the kind used with any weapon kind. Of particular note for this author were Vaibu Mohan’s “Ice Cream, Soft Clothes, Sex & Connection” performed by Mia Gentile (a perfect opening number for the evening), a tour de force entitled “Toothpaste” by John Coyne ( Relation to Bill) sung by Futaba Shioda, and a VP Boyle-led number called “Feedback” by Ben Boecker that any actor will understand… and maybe some civilians too. There was some particularly tasty vocals from Anu Mysore on Andrew J. Hanley’s “You Need/Tum Mangte Ho” and Jayke Workman blew everyone away with Shoshana Shattenkirk & Rob Berliner’s “Chameleon Energy”. Future MUSEMATCH audience members should be fairly warned that some of the actors require lyric sheets. It’s quite possible that this will happen with every part of the series – after all, these are completely new songs and one suspects that not all performers have their finished compositions for the same time. Even those of us who frown (Yes, really frown) at cabaret shows where actors read their lines can afford to be a little generous at a MUSEMATCH show – no one but the performers themselves knows what the process was like, and a little kindness goes a long way in the name of good effect will.
During his closing remarks, MUSEMATCH Artistic Director Coyne declared that “artists need support” and he couldn’t be more correct; That’s why the offering from Coyne and his company is so important – but also the funds raised for organizations like ARTS IGNITE (the beneficiaries of last night’s concert) cannot be overstated. The work MUSEMATCH does on behalf of charity is extremely generous and speaks volumes for the community of artists that populate New York City. Considering the roster of artists who are MUSEMATCH alumni and the number of shows produced, it’s hard not to be both impressed and grateful. And the process is fun and fascinating and often produces some good songs and stories. Thank goodness the program has found its new home in The Green Room 42 – it will be both fun and exciting to see what the next installment of goodies brings. Long may the series continue.
The MUSEMATCH band consists of Nathan Dame on piano, Elmo Zapp on bass, AJ Jagannath on guitar, Caroline Moore on drums
Check out the Green Room 42 website for great shows HERE.
MUSEMATCH has a Facebook page HERE.
Photos by Stephen Mosher