In 7th grade, I formed a rock band with three childhood best friends (Ryan Anderson, Shawn Connelly, and Chris Wuelling). Through countless band names, basement practice sessions, smoky old bar gigs, and even winning a Battle of the Bands that landed us a song on the radio, Halfway There served as my tour guide through teenage life. It also led me to explore teaching, composing, and performing music throughout high school and college. Later on, after performing in multiple theatrical productions, it became clear to me that a “bucket list” goal of mine was to one day com pose a musical. I didn’t realize it at the time, but Halfway There was not only the perfect name for the band, but it characterized where I stood in achieving my own musical dreams.
In college, I met one of my life long best friends, Brady Holden, who is now enjoying an incredibly successful career in the film industry. Seriously, look him up (bradyholden.com). In 2007, he told me a story from a couple years earlier about how his sister was a caretaker for a victim of a drunk-driving accident (not his fault), and she ended up falling in love with him. I immediately told him that Kelly and Patrick’s unprecedented love story would make the perfect premise for my original musical. I later had the fortune of meeting them and I put together my own embellishment of their story in 2008.
I took a break for several years, while I began my teaching career, and then finished writing all of the songs in 2012. In 2015, I scratched several of the songs and refined the plot, adding and subtracting several characters along the way. Finally, in 2016, with my wife pregnant and my school being one year away from its 50th musical, which offered a perfect opportunity for a premiere, I was determined to finish the show. I was pickier than ever this time and ended up cutting 6 of the 16 songs. I rewrote them from scratch and spent countless summer nights staying up till 2, 3, or 4am to finish my first rough draft of the show by the time the school year rolled around in the fall of 2016. The show has taken many steps in the last year, making its way through three extensive draft revisions (and countless mini-rewrites), complete with substantial song, character, scene, and premise cuts, edits, and additions.
I am proud to say that after the concept came to life in 2008, the first round of music was written in 2012, and the first draft of the entire show was completed in 2016 , The Book of Empty Pages will premiere on the Southwest High School stage in Green Bay, WI, on Black Friday 2017. For those then have been a part of the process, thank you for sticking with this project. And for those that will be performing the production, my sincerest gratitude for tackling the premiere.
Dreams don’t always come true, but the art of dreaming is far more valuable than truth. Dream big, friends…it’s worth it.