Nothing’s as Amazing as a Musical

I’ve written nine musicals – book, music, and lyrics – and all but one have been produced. My earlier shows are respectable efforts, but I wouldn’t want anyone of them to be produced today. After all, I wrote my first show the summer before senior year in high school. It wasn’t bad for a seventeen-year-old with no training, writing his first musical, but that’s not really saying much.

But I really like my later shows, particularly three of them (Attempting the Absurd, In the Blood, and Johnny Appleweed), and I’ve often thought what a shame it is that I spend a year or two writing a show, pour my soul into it, and then it runs for four weeks and disappears forever. After all that work. But I knew none of the theatrical publishers would publish my quirky little shows which have never run in New York.

I’ve also been thinking a lot lately about how to augment my income. It’s hard out there for a freelance artsy to pay the rent. I’ve been working on a new musical theatre analysis book (this will be my fifth of that kind), and I’m getting close to finishing, so I’ve begun thinking about getting it published. The publisher who put out my first four books isn’t adding any more theatre titles for the foreseeable future. The publisher who put out my last book was a bit of a nightmare.

And then someone pointed out to me that you can self-publish on Amazon. I looked into it, and found it’s really easy and it’s literally free! I also saw that you can choose from a dozen different sizes, which made me think… I could publish music books!

So I sat down and went through my computer files, to see what there was that I had already written that was worth publishing, and that might make me some money. I ended up deciding to publish the script and music for three of my most recent musicals, two of my non-musical scripts, a collection of my songs from all my shows, and one novelty book that I’ve been wanting to get published for several years.

But this was a bigger job than I thought. All those scripts were already in the computer, so I just had to reformat and clean them up. But only my last score was done on the computer – all my earlier scores are in pencil on music manuscript paper. So for two shows I had to input the entire scores into the computer. It was time-consuming, but I’m so glad I did it.

So here’s what I’ve put up on Amazon lately, in addition to my four analysis books, my book about Hair, and my musical theatre history book. I can’t describe the thrill of seeing my music in a published book!

Attempting the AbsurdMeta before meta was cool. This is one of the first truly postmodern meta-musicals (written 1986-1992, debuted 1992), about a young man named Jason who has figured out that he’s only a character in a musical and doesn’t actually exist; and his special knowledge has persuaded those around him that he’s off his nut. Jason is a fictional character in the real world, but all the people around him are real people in a fictional world. So he sets off on a quest to find The Answers To It All, with his musical comedy sidekick, Chaz. Along the way the two find love (both gay and straight), community theatre friends, a little jail time, and ultimately irrefutable proof that Jason is right after all. Love and a copy of the script to Attempting the Absurd conquer all, and all ends as it should, with a happy, full company reprise. Songs include “I Love You,” “Being in a Musical,” “The City,” “Waltz for Chaz,” “Worse Things,” “The Optimistic Song,” “Old-Fashioned Musicals,” “The Big Finish,” and lots more. Both the script and the vocal selections are available on Amazon now!

In the Blood – My 1995 vampire musical, part romance, part Gothic horror, part comedy. The show explores the unlikely romance between the vampire Zachary Church and Adam Graham, a hematologist with HIV, in the early years of the AIDS pandemic. If vampires are the only ones who can’t be affected by the AIDS virus, do they have some responsibility to pass on their immunity? And for someone with AIDS, what price is too high for acquiring that immunity? When Adam asks Zach to turn him to vampirism so he won’t die, Zach is torn. He has vowed never to make another vampire, never to subject anyone else to the horrific loneliness he has known for so long. Ultimately, Zach has to choose between condemning Adam to the tormented life of a vampire or watching him die, knowing he could’ve saved him. This was definitely the most serious show I’ve ever written, and the most sophisticated score. Both the script and the vocal selections are available on Amazon now!

Johnny Appleweed – My 2006 stoner political satire, the first musical ever to make a serious case for the spiritual, existential, and psychological properties of marijuana. Through the lens of this pot-friendly worldview, the show takes aim at issues like American party politics, the War on Terror, the (undeclared) war on America’s poor, the American culture of violence, gay marriage, the legalization of marijuana, sexual oppression, and increasingly rabid American religious fanaticism, all through the eyes of the laid-back, neo-mythic purveyor of pot, Johnny Appleweed, an itinerant philosopher-stoner, who argues that only through the mind-expanding properties of marijuana can we truly see the Larger Truths, so that we can finally solve our problems and move our civilization forward. A heady mix of Hair, The Daily Show, the films of Kevin Smith, Waiting for Godot, and The Wizard of Oz. Songs include “The Ballad of Johnny Appleweed,” “The Scheme of Things,” “Fucking Up America,” “Cannabis Dei,” “Weird Isn’t Weird,” “Jesus On the Tube,” “I Tapped That Ass,” “What Would Jesus Do?”, “A Great Big Cloud of Smoke,” and more.  Both the script and the vocal selections are available on Amazon now!

Astro Turf – This is a twenty-minute one-act musical I wrote as a special project for a history of astronomy class at Harvard University in 1984. Five major astronomers, Aristotle, Ptolemy, Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, and Johannes Kepler, come together and present in song their views on the nature of motion and the creation of the heavens. Both my professors loved it. Owen Gingrich (professor emeritus of astronomy and the history of science, Harvard University), wrote, “This is really quite super! There is obviously a lot of research and thought here, and a lot of very subtle points! Bravo!” My other prof, D.W. Latham (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics), wrote, “A magnificent survey of the history of astronomy, so detailed, so insightful. They’re all excellent, but the Kepler piece is simply brilliant!” All five songs are in the vocal selections, now available on Amazon!

Songs from the Musicals of Scott Miller – Even though a lot of my early shows aren’t strong enough to be produced again, some of the songs in those shows are pretty good! So here’s a fun collection of songs from all nine of my musicals, Adam’s Apple (1981), Musical (1983), Topsiders (1984), Astro Turf (1984), The Line (1985), Attempting the Absurd (1992), Breaking Out in Harmony (1994), In the Blood (1995), and Johnny Appleweed (2006). Songs include “Give Me My Cap’n Crunch,” “The Children of Izod,” “Pushers and Dealers Are People Too,” “Zit,” “Cupcakes at Seven,” “Get Screwed,” “Aristotle,” “Married or Gay,” “Cannabis Dei,” “Fucking Up America,” “I Tapped That Ass,” “Crime is Beauty,” “The Christmas Tree Fell Over and Our House is Burning Down,” and lots more. This piano-vocal collection is now available on Amazon!

Head Games – This was my first foray into writing a non-musical play, but it turned out pretty well. It’s been produced here in St. Louis, in Los Angeles, in London, and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. In the show, it’s Michael’s thirty-fifth birthday, and his friends are coming over to celebrate, for better or worse, as he grieves over his advancing age in a youth-obsessed culture, and also over his inability to find a smart gay comedy with nudity to fill his small theatre company’s bank account. And his late-arriving surprise birthday present will just make it all worse. Much worse. Head Games takes pot shots at pop culture at the turn of the new century and at itself, and it doubles back on itself structurally, playing the story out of chronology – so that as Act II opens, you realize that much of what you thought happened in Act I isn’t what it appeared…  The script is available now on Amazon!

A Hot Cup of Murder – Back in 2000, Harrah’s Casino asked us to create a murder mystery show to perform in their banquet hall, as an extra incentive to get groups to come to the casino. I created a political family, the Seaborns, holding their first political fundraising dinner, when the candidate drops dead in his dinner about ten minutes into the show. And hilarity ensues. We ended up doing only one performance, for complicated reasons, but the audience loved it, and now I’m finally able to share my script, which is now on Amazon!

It’s so cool that all this stuff has now been published. I don’t know that I’ll make much money on this, but I love that it’s out there. And who knows, maybe it will lead to further productions of one or more of these shows.

Beyond all this, there was still one more project I had been thinking about for several years, a musical theatre novelty book – something none of the established theatre publishers was interested in. Now, as part of my adventure in self-publishing, this project is finally real.

It’s a Musical!: 400 Questions to Ponder, Discuss, and Fight About – This quiz book is filled with 400 questions designed to make the serious musical theatre fan think about musicals, on Broadway and across the country, how they operate, how they interact with each other and with the Real World, how they are related, how they have and haven’t changed over the years, what they have been and what they are becoming in this new Golden Age of the American Musical Theatre. Por ejemplo

What theatre song always puts you in a good mood?

Name a strong black leading character in a musical.

Quote one dialogue line from a musical that totally encapsulates that show.

What’s your favorite Act II opener?

Name a theatre song in which the singer is lying.

What musical would be hardest to explain to someone who knew nothing about it?

What’s your favorite Kander & Ebb vamp?

You can flip through this book, land on any page, read a question, and test yourself on your knowledge, insights, and opinions about musicals. Or you can make it a game with your similarly obsessed friends. Or you can use it to humiliate posers who only pretend to know our beloved art form. Your choice. But wield your power carefully. The primary purpose here is just for serious, hardcore, musical theatre fans to have lots of musical theatre fun with other serious, hardcore, musical theatre fans. Or with themselves. But remember – alone is alone, not alive.

It has also occurred to me that this book would be a useful teaching aid for theatre teachers, to get their students thinking more substantively about our art form. It’s a Musical! is now available on Amazon too!

I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to know my work won’t die, that my songs will have some further life. It’s a real gift Amazon has given me. They’ve taken away the gatekeepers, and they’re allowing me to tap into a fast-growing market of musical theatre freaks, in a way that most regular publishers would consider not worth the risk.

I realized a long time ago that the true joy of making theatre is the act of sharing, connecting to an audience and telling them a great story. Now my sharing can expand beyond the walls of the Marcelle Theater, and beyond the local fans of New Line Theatre. Amazon has super-charged my sharing power and I am very grateful.

So stop my Author Page on Amazon (remember, go to, and New Line gets donations off your purchases!) and take a look at all my books. If you love musicals, there’s lots there you’ll be happy you found…

Long Live the Musical! (And Amazon!)
from The Bad Boy of Musical Theatre


My Kind of Town

Every so often I like to point out how incredibly exciting, varied, and interesting the St. Louis musical theatre scene is.

It’s always been important to me not only to promote New Line and our work, but also the art form itself, and the rest of the St. Louis theatre scene. We keep pages on our website listing all the theatre companies in town, and all the upcoming productions of musicals in town.

Keeping in mind we’re already halfway through the summer, here’s a list of musicals coming up locally.

July 6-14 – H.M.S. Pinafore, Union Avenue Opera
July 9-16 – Jersey Boys, The Muny
July 13-21 – Altar Boyz, Silhouettes Production Company
July 18-25 – Annie, The Muny
July 18-29 – Footloose, Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre
July 20-28 – Dames at Sea, Alfresco Productions
July 20-Aug. 19 – Mamma Mia!, Stages St. Louis
July 24-29 – It Shoulda Been You, SCC Center Stage Theatre
July 26-29 – Sweeney Todd, Ignite Theatre Company
July 27-28 – West Side Story, COCA
July 27-Aug. 2 – Gypsy, The Muny
July 27-Aug. 5 – Legally Blonde, Hawthorne Players
Aug. 2-18 – The Robber Bridegroom, Stray Dog Theatre
Aug. 3-5 – Honk!, Insight Theatre Company
Aug. 3-11 – Into the Woods, Curtain’s Up Theater Company
Aug. 4-12 – Meet Me in St. Louis, The Muny
Aug. 8-19 – The Great American Trailer Park Musical, Act Two Theatre
Aug. 10-26 – The Light in the Piazza, R-S Theatrics
Aug. 17-25 – Lost in the Stars, Union Avenue Opera
Sept 5-30 – Evita, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Sept. 7-Oct. 7 – Oklahoma!, Stages St. Louis
Sept. 12-16 – Bye Bye Birdie, Ignite Theatre Company
Sept. 18-30 – Love Never Dies, Fox Theatre
Sept. 20-30 – Newsies, Looking Glass Playhouse
Sept. 27-Oct. 20 – The Zombies of Penzance, New Line Theatre
Oct. 5-14 – Bells Are Ringing, Alpha Players
Nov. 2-11 – Annie, Act Two Theatre
Nov. 7-25 – Aladdin, Fox Theatre
Nov. 8-Dec. 16 – All is Calm, Mustard Seed Theatre
Dec. 11-16 – Les Misérables, Fox Theatre
Dec. 22-23 – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Fox Theatre
De. 26-Jan. 6 – Anastasia, Fox Theatre
Jan. 25-Feb. 10 – Avenue Q, Playhouse @ Westport Plaza
Jan. 29-Feb. 10 – Fiddler on the Roof, Fox Theatre
Feb. 14-17 – James and the Giant Peach, East Central College
Feb. 28-March 23 – La Cage aux Folles, New Line Theatre
March 1-3 – Rock of Ages, Fox Theatre
March 5-10 – Bat Out of Hell, Fox Theatre
March 12-17 – Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Fox Theatre
March 26-April 7 – Waitress, Fox Theatre
April 4-20 – Dreamgirls, Stray Dog Theatre
April 23-May 5 – Miss Saigon, Fox Theatre
May 14-26 – Come From Away, Fox Theatre
May 30-June 22 – Be More Chill, New Line Theatre

And that’s only the musicals!

Pretty cool list for a mid-sized Midwestern city! I think there’s only one repetition in the whole list. A while back I wrote a blog post about why St. Louis theatre is so amazing. This list is one of the reasons. We have a ton of cool companies doing very cool work. What more could we ask?

And I could not be more exciting about New Line’s upcoming season – the truly crazy world premiere of The Zombies of Penzance; a somewhat more serious take on the big-hearted, classic musical La Cage aux Folles; and the new sci-fi rock musical Be More Chill. You can buy season tickets here. I cannot wait to share all three of these musicals with all of you! I love my job.

The American musical theatre is in a new Golden Age, and so is the St. Louis theatre scene. A new adventure begins…

Long Live the Musical!
from The Bad Boy of Musical Theatre

ROZES Tries To Find Balance On Hazy New Single, ‘Numbed Up’!

Dance-pop darling ROZES has consistently beeen churning out single after single for over a year now. We’ve gotten stellar solo efforts like “Canyons” and “Famous,” as well as high-profile collaborations with Galantis, Cash Cash and Nicky Romero, all leading to the final piece of the puzzle: The Numbed Up EP, a 4-track bundle of all her tunes to date, out today (July 13).

The start-to-finish solid collection includes “Famous,” “Canyons,” the Nicky Romero-assisted “Where Would We Be,” and a brand new track: “Numbed Up,” featuring rapper NexXtthursday, the title track which finds ROZES struggling to find balance between her personal mental health and the lifestyle of being a touring musician.

“Don’t get confused – this song is about MENTAL HEALTH,” ROZES said in a statement. “This is me struggling with the balance of new medicines, a demanding career and balancing work/life/friends. It’s the struggle of trying to be ‘normal’ when you know your feelings aren’t. This is me talking to myself, wishing my mind could just be on my damn side for once 💊♥ listen with care. It’s real life for me.”

Don’t you want to be on my side for tonight/ On my side for tonight?/ Don’t you want to feel more alive for tonight? More alive for tonight?,” she sings across the hazy, trap-infused electro-pop production. “Cause I Know you want to fight it/ Don’t try to fight it/ Don’t you want to be on my side for tonight?

It’s a nice change of pace for ROZES, who tends to stick to her signature dance-pop lane. I’m into it – Listen below!

ROZES’ latest single “Numbed Up” is also available on Apple Music and Spotify now!

from Jon ALi’s Blog

MØ Announces New Album & Reunites With Diplo On Summer-Ready ‘Sun In Our Eyes’!

‘s been teasing the follow-up to her 2014 debut, No Mythologies To Follow, for what feels like actual centuries. Thankfully, she’s kept us happy over the years with a surprise EP and numerous high-profile collaborations with the likes of Diplo, Major Lazer, Snakehips, Charli XCX and ALMA.

Now, the Danish songstress (also known as Karie Marie Ørsted) has finally announced that her sophomore album is done; it’s called Forever Neverland and it’s due out October 19th via Columbia Records. In the press release, describes it as being about “imaginary love and living in a bubble.”

To coincide with he announcement, she’s also shared her brand new single, “Sun In Our Eyes“! The summer-ready track sees her teaming up with Diplo again for a bright, breezy produciton, which sets ‘s distinct powerhouse vocals against earnest, aching lyrics. “And just ride that wave until we higher than life/ With the sun in our eyes, should just ride on a cloud/ Until we fall from the sky/ No more tears for the night, for the ni-i-i-i-i-ight/ For the ni-i-i-i-i-ight…,” she croons across the euphoric chorus.

Diplo and I are long time collaborators now,” said in the press release. “One of the many reasons I love working with him is because I always feel like it’s a free and creative process and I always like the end product. We both loved ‘Sun In Our Eyes‘ from the beginning and what makes it special to me is that it’s a combination of the two ingredients I’m always craving in music: uplifting and melancholy vibes.”

and I have some special chemistry in the studio,” Diplo added. “Whenever we work together we always write three or four songs in a day, and every time we get better. I think ‘Sun In Our Eyes’ is the best song we’ve ever written together.” I think I just may have to agree with the master-crafter himself, “Sun In Our Eyes” is pure pop bliss.

MØ & Diplo’s new single “Sun In Our Eyes” is also available on Apple Music and Spotify!

from Jon ALi’s Blog

Allie X Takes On Hollywood On Swaggering New Single, ‘Not So Bad In L.A”!

It looks like CollXtion III may be closer than we think…

Synth-pop darling Allie X, who released one of 2017’s Best Albums with CollXtion II, has been slowly dropping hints that a new project is on the horizon. “Oh honey, you just wait and see, I’ve got a whole year planned,” she recently told Billboard.

Following the release of “Focus” in June, Allie X continues her consecutive string of stellar pop releases with her new single, “Not So Bad In LA“!

Over sparkling synths and swaggering bass line, she sings about common problems that plague the Hollywood natives whilst losing herself in the starlight rush: “It’s not so bad in L.A/ The parking’s cheap and valet/ Those blue skies day after day/ It’s not so bad in L.A/ Backyard got two lemon trees/ Ten grams at the dispensary…,” she declares across a tripping hip-hop beat. The song shimmers in a very Lana Del Rey-like majestic sheen while still relishing in some modern 2018 flare — and of course, those oh-so-very-necessary distant moans à la Lana.

Allie consistently puts out pop greatness, and her latest is no different. BRING ON THE REST MAMA!

Allie X’s new single “Not So Bad In L.A” is also available on Apple Music and Spotify!

from Jon ALi’s Blog

Song of the Week: Blonde ‘Me, Myself & I’ Featuring Bryn Christopher!

This week’s Song of the Week comes from one of my all-time faves: Blonde!

It’s been over a year since we last heard from the talented British production duo, who have been providing us with some genuinely amazing dance-pop euphoria for years now – from “Higher Ground” to “I Loved You” to “All Cried Out” to “Feel Good (It’s Alright)” with Karen Harding to the Craig David-assisted “Nothing Like This, and last year’s “Just One Night” with Astrid S.

The pair make their grand return with yet another fierce collaboration called “Me, Myself & I,” which features Bryn Christopher. Erupting in a blaze of energy and melody, “Me, Myself & I” is a euphoric piano house banger with an immediately addictive vocal hook that infuses an underground sensibility with ’90s radio-friendly arrangements.

It’s one of those live-your-best-life-for-the-night kind of anthems, and I’m all about it – a true summer song. ALSO! The video: Everything.

Blonde’s new single “Me, Myself & I” is also available on Apple Music and Spotify now!

from Jon ALi’s Blog

Benny Blanco Launches Artist Project With Halsey & Khalid On ‘Eastside’!

It’s time for Benny Blanco to step into the spotlight…

In case you didn’t already know, the talented writer-producer is responsible for some of the most massive singles from the past decade. He’s worked heavily in the pop circuit for years alongside some of the biggest names such as Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Maroon 5, Jessie Ware, Ed Sheeran, Lana Del Rey, The Weeknd and basically anyone else you can think of. No joke.

Within the past year, he’s made a heavy imprint on some of the biggest albums. This year alone, his production and songwriting credits can be found on Cardi B‘s Invasion Of Privacy, Kanye West‘s Ye, Kids See Ghosts and NasNasir, among other records. BUT THIS WEEK, Benny kicks off his very own artist project with the release of, “Eastside,” featuring Halsey and Khalid!

Eastside” – which also features credits from Happy Perez, Cashmere Cat, Ed Sheeran and Andrew Wyatt – is built around the hazy plucks of guitar and a marching dancehall-lite beat as Khalid and Halsey trade verses about how young love morphs into the malaise of adulthood. “She used to meet me on the Eastside/ In the city where the sun don’t set/ And every day you know that we ride/ Through the backstreets of a blue Corvette,” they sing. “Baby, you know I just wanna leave tonight/ We can go anywhere we want/ Drive down to the coast, jump in the seat/ Just take my hand and come with me.”

It’s soft and sweet serenade with a bunch of cooks in the kitchen, but it’s done seamlessly. “I’m not a part of this like old school, like, one person does this. If I have a homie over, and they’re listening to the song and they’re like, ‘Oh, I got a guitar lick for that,’ or ‘Let me throw some drums on that,’ ‘Let me let me do this’… For me, it’s just the way music comes together,” Benny told Zane Lowe. “It doesn’t have to be like a job. It is supposed to be fun. If we wanted jobs, we would’ve taken nine to fives, behind desks.”

Benny Blanco’s new single “Eastside” is also available on Apple Music and Spotify!

from Jon ALi’s Blog