– Judy Elkind
Saturday afternoon, composer and lyricist Scott Alan came to San Francisco for a concert at the Rrazz Room in the Hotel Nikko. Alan has accumulated an extensive discography in the Pop/Broadway genre, having released three albums recorded with the who’s who of theater (Shoshana Bean, Jonathan Groff, Sutton Foster, Norm Lewis…), and currently workshopping a new musical, Home, (with book by Christy Hall) headed for Broadway in 2012.
Seated in the audience, I was surprised to see an array of instruments sprawled across the stage. Scott Alan, I knew, was but one man, and though he brings vocalists to the stage it would be unusual to have full orchestrations for an advertised solo show. Yet when Alan took the stage he sat down at the one black piano, set off to the side and clarified, the other instruments belonged to Megan Mullally’s (Will and Grace) show taking place that evening. He was simply instructed not to touch them. Alan then continued that this show may not be great for children, since he tends to curse and enjoys keeping a glass of tequila at his side. Such was the tone for the evening: an informal, uncomplicated song and story time, but delivered with impressive talent and sincerity.
Faced with a small turnout (it was, after all, 3pm during Halloween weekend), some artists may have been jaded and shied away from giving it their all. But Alan embraced the intimate setting and didn’t hold back any of his usual stops to charm the modest group in the room. Alan made the event personal, interacting with the audience with his own joking personality, and taking advantage of the concert platform in full. He even shared some stories and songs he’d never performed for a regular audience before.
As Scott explained “I never use set lists, I don’t believe in them.” He prefers to feed off of the room, the vibes, during the event. This made for some random pauses as he scrolled and scrolled through his pages, looking and murmuring “are these the lyrics?… no. are these the lyrics?… no. are these the lyrics?…” But again, this is all part of his appeal. It’s refreshing to find someone whose talent and success doesn’t eclipse their interactions on a human to human level. It’s these closer moments when audience members can appreciate the music and his actions at the piano, seeing him as a person and relating to the words and flow of his songs.
While Alan did much of the singing himself, there were also three guest performers. Anna Ty Bergman, Molly Bell and Kristoffer Cusick (Wicked), each came out and sang through a selection of songs, accompanied by Scott at the piano. He opened the set up with West, being in California, and played songs from Home, his musical, including Never Neverland, the title track, and a newly added humorous song. And of course, with the songs came stories, delivered with an air of blunt comedy and smart confidence. Watch Me Soar, for instance, is a song Scott wrote at the request of Broadway’s original Annie, but when she didn’t like the direction it took, he simply said too bad and had another talent do the recording instead. Alan also told about a recent meal he had with Stephan Swartz (composer of Godspell, Pippin, Wicked) and how he owes Swartz his career considering Scott uses all the Elphabas (from Wicked) for his songs. Scott also shared more personal stories about the inspiration for his poignant ballads Over The Mountains, and Anything Worth Holding On To.
x It’s no surprise Scott Alan has made a name for himself in musical theater, and it’ll be interesting to see how far Home takes him in the future.
For more information about Scott Alan or Home the musical visit http://scottalan.net/ and http://www.homethemusical.com