The Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge is a national competition open to high school students who have a passion for writing songs that could be part of a musical theater production. The winners worked one-on-one with New York City theater artists who traveled to their hometowns for an intensive two-day workshop produced by the American Theatre Wing. Their final song is then produced with professional Broadway artists in NYC.
Keur and Watson’s song Charles’ Song, centers on Charles Williams, a soldier fighting in Australia’s Great Emu War of 1932. Charles has just found out that Mavis–the woman he loves–has been with his commanding officer and “brother in arms” Major GPW Meredith. The song that begins on a reflective note quickly shifts to darker thoughts of revenge.
Music and Lyrics: Makai Keur and Julian Watson
Music Director: Ben Rauhala
Mentor: Shakina Nayfack
Performers: Derek Klena (vocals), Adam J. Levy (vocals), Josh Tolle (vocals), Philip Payton (violin), Jocelin Pan (viola), Mairi Dorman-Phaneuf (cello), Alan Stevens Hewitt (bass), Justin Goldner (banjo), Jared Schonig (drums), Ben Rauhala (piano), Makai Keur (piano)
Producer: American Theatre Wing
Director: Ian Weiss
Editors: Ian Weiss, Kayla Williamson
DP: Matthew Cady, Hayden5
Camera: Jeff Springer, Hayden5
The Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge is hosted by the National Endowment of the Arts in partnership with the American Theatre Wing. It also features collaborations with Disney Theatrical Productions, Concord Theatricals, and the National Music Publishers’ Association.