Friday, July 29, 2016
Spotlight On...Adam Spiegel
Hometown: Plainsboro, NJ
Education: Bachelor of Music in Music Business from New York University
Favorite Credits: Camp Rolling Hills, is being produced this summer at New York Musical Festival, and has been adapted into a series of young adult novels published by Abrams Books. Composer of Cloned!, a New York Times Critic’s Pick and winner of NYMF 2014’s Best of Fest Audience Prize!, and The Whole Megillah! Completed two years as a composer in the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, worked on a musical adaptation of "Back To The Future" with lyricist Dan Wolpow. Also the keyboardist and lead singer of Brain Salt, and plays keyboards and sings for the band Hide & Seek. As an actor, Peter in Vital Theatre Company’s Pinkalicious, The Musical!
Why theater?: When I was 8 years old, I went to a sleep-away camp called Camp Tranquillity for the first time. Every Saturday night, we would put on a show in the Barn Theater. The first week I was there, I auditioned to be in Peter Pan, and got the role of Smee. I don't quite remember why I wanted to audition, but it was possibly because my older brother David had gone to camp the previous summer, and he had played Linus in You're A Good Man Charlie Brown and it sounded like fun. Anyway, I had a great time doing it, and ended up being involved in just about every show the rest of that summer, and the 11 other summers that followed. I've loved performing ever since. When I was in middle school, I started figuring out how to write music, and was often told that my music sounded like it could be in a musical. In high school I kept developing my piano and composition skills, and ended up music directing and arranging music for the annual AP History play senior year, as well as writing a few scenes for it. I was a music business major at NYU, but I continued performing and writing music. Eventually I signed up for a musical theatre writing class, and after a semester of writing a lot of fun songs, I collaborated on a ten minute musical called I'm Falling for my final project. It was about two people skydiving and falling in love in mid-air (the subtitle was Love Is In The Air). After that I knew I wanted to write musicals.
Tell us about Camp Rolling Hills: Camp Rolling Hills tells the story of 12-year-old Robert Benjamin, sent away to camp by his newly-divorced parents. At first, Robert resents being stuck in a strange place with a bunch of enthusiastic weirdos who've nicknamed him "Smelly." Before too long, he starts to love camp and everything that comes with it. He learns to play guitar, finds first love, and finally earns the respect and admiration of his bunkmates. Along with the rest of the 12 year-old campers of San Juan Hill and Anita Hill Cabins, Smelly (eventually) has the greatest summer of his life, breaking the rules, making lifelong friends, and learning important life lessons along the way.
What inspired you to write Camp Rolling Hills?: My brother David and I went to camp together first as campers, and then as staff members from age 16 on. Once we were both on staff, David would direct the shows, and I would music direct and play piano. Between our experience putting on shows together there and our experiences at camp in general and all the fun stories and memories that came with it, we had more than enough material on which to base our own musical.
What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I tend to gravitate towards comedy, especially stuff that is silly—but it has to be cleverly written. Generally, I'm inspired by little things that makes me laugh. If I stumble onto a funny story or see a funny character, or even come across a silly rhyme or pun, I want to follow the thread and see if it leads anywhere. Some of my favorite things that I've written have come out of ideas I've had (either on my own or with a writing partner) that I just can't stop laughing about. My favorites are the ones that I think are too stupid to use at first - those are the ideas that seem to really stick the hardest.
If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I wouldn't say that there's any specific person I'm dying to work with, but I love working with creative, fun, open minded people, from the writing process all the way up through production. I'm really excited about working with our incredible cast this summer which includes six actors (four of them kids!) who have already been on Broadway.
What show have you recommended to your friends?: I haven't gotten to see Hamilton yet, so I can't say that one, but my favorite shows the last five years or so have been The Book of Mormon, One Man Two Guvnors, Matilda, Pippin, and Into The Woods (the Delacorte production).
Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I don't know his name, but the kid who plays Adam on ABC's "The Goldbergs" would play me, and the movie would be called "Cheese, Mostly".
If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Probably the original production of A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum with Zero Mostel.
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Phish!
If you weren’t working in theater, you would be?: Definitely playing music somewhere - touring with one of my bands would be awesome.
What’s up next?: My band Hide and Seek has a residency at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 1 every Saturday night at 10PM on August 13th, 20th and 27th, plus an EP release show at Rockwood Stage 2 on September 24th. I also have a new EP coming out soon from my band Brain Salt!
For more on Adam, visit www.adamspiegelmusic.com. For more on Camp Rolling Hills, visit www.camprollinghills.com