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‘POPart’ may play in NYC

Johnstown native seeks donations to show musical

August 8, 2010
By KAYLEIGH KARUTIS, The Leader-Herald

For aspiring composers, having their own musical performed in the theatre district of New York City is a dream many have but few realize.

Johnstown native Aaron McAllister, though, may realize that dream at only 28 years old.

McAllister, who composed the music for the original musical "POPart: The Musical," could see his creation brought to life in September and October just a few blocks from Broadway in New York City.

McAllister created the musical with creative partner Daryl Lisa Fazio, a Georgia resident he met several years ago at Coastal Carolina University. They entered their creation in the 2010 New York Music Theater Festival's Next Link Project contest. Out of the 600 submissions, theirs was chosen as one of 12 to be subsidized by NYMF.

NYMF provided them with a space in New York City to show their musical in six performances. The festival will do all the advertising and public relations for the show, including putting up signs and billboards in Times Square, McAllister said.

The most exciting part, though, is that many Next Link shows go on to much greater success, including receiving Tony Awards or being shown on Broadway, McAllister said.

"Seeing what you've written come to life, hearing people sing your songs ... there's nothing like it," McAllister said. "You have to have someone pinch you. It's just so incredible."

Fazio agreed. She said "POPart" began as an idea she explored but never finished. Upon meeting McAllister, though, the two set out to complete it and did so in just a few short months. Their creative partnership is one she cherishes, she said. The two have created several other musicals together, she said, including "lift," which also was a finalist in the NYMF competition.

"We're both type A personalities so we really push each other," she said. "Aaron was totally on board. Luckily, he's in line with my type of humor."

Fazio said she too is amazed their musical has achieved so much success in such a short amount of time.

"It's hard to put into words," she said. "This is an incredible opportunity and people are responding. That's what it's all about."

The musical is based on Fazio's experience as a teacher in an art department at a college for several years.

The piece is described as "zany" and "irreverent" and centers on the life of Kitty Katz, a klutzy 18-year-old girl who escapes her so-called boring life and enrolls in an inner-city art school in order to "find herself," McAllister said.

"The message is the same throughout: let go, dig in and create. Kitty, uptight and in check, wonders if she'll fit or fall," read the musical description at its website, www.popartthemusical.com.

"It's basically a coming of age story," McAllister said.

McAllister, who teaches at Coastal Carolina University, said his love for music began as a child, when he began taking piano lessons. His interest grew as he aged, and he learned several more instruments and began singing. He became part of the Johnstown High School madrigal choir, when it was still in existence, as just a freshman, said then-music instructor William Crankshaw.

Crankshaw said when McAllister was at JHS, he was more of a colleague than just a student.

"He knew about every type of music - pop, opera, instrumental, and of course musical theater," he said. "He was very unique. We always talked about different shows, opera, even classical music. He's fluent in all of it."

Crankshaw said he was especially impressed by how polished McAllister's auditions were for various schools.

"He was kind of a one man band. He could sing, but he could also accompany himself on the piano," he said.

McAllister's father, Michael McAllister, is planning a bus trip to bring interested local residents to see the show. He said $70 will cover the bus trip, which will take place Oct. 2, and the show. About 20 people have already reserved seats on the 55-seat bus, he said.

Michael McAllister, who also runs SkyHeart Studios in Gloversville, said he knew from when Aaron was young that his son had something special.

"He always showed a huge interest in music. He just threw himself into it," he said. "With some kids you have to encourage them to practice. With Aaron, we had to encourage him to stop practicing."

Michael McAllister said he's extremely proud of his son's success and added he's seen "POPart" and enjoyed it.

As exciting as the prospect of seeing "POPart" performed in New York City is, McAllister and Fazio are still burdened with raising about $35,000 in order to make the production a reality. While NYMF will cover the performance space and the advertising, which McAllister called "huge," the pair still has to raise their own money to pay for sets, costumes and actor salaries.

So far the pair has raised about $6,000, McAllister said. If someone would like to donate, they can do so online at www.nymf.org or at www.popartthemusical.com. The entire donation is tax-deductible, McAllister said.

While raising money, McAllister and Fazio will also work on perfecting their piece and bringing it to life.

"Having so many people want to be a part of something you've written is really humbling," McAllister said. "It's exhilarating."

 
 

 

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