Q & A With Alison Holman & Caleb Collins
Broadway Blogspot knows that Alison Holman and Caleb Collins are quickly becoming established in the Broadway community with their new musical "Freedom's Song". Read more about their creative process and how "Freedom's Song" came to be...
BB: Tell us some of the pros and cons to writing a new musical?
AH/CC: So the biggest pro AND con to an original show is that is IS original. While it’s fun to create and use your imagination solely without help of a book or movie or other people’s music, it can be a challenge to fill in plot holes and really solidify character arcs that work well. But these characters and story are OURS ultimately and there is definitely a sense of pride that comes with watching people enjoy something that you created all on your own. The biggest con to the whole thing is that producers are a little hesitant about completely new work as it hasn’t proven itself in the mainstream yet so it can be a big gamble!
BB: Tell us about collaborating with each other...
AH/CC: We’ve known each other our entire lives literally. It’s like working with your sibling and that benefits us greatly. We have an added element of trust that comes along with that in the fact that we know each other and how the other works so well that we just know it’s going to happen and that we will push each other to get the best work done. When we need to fight it out we take out the boxing gloves…no but seriously, when issues arise, we just let it out, get it over with and do what we feel is best for the piece together. We both do a lot of different things. Caleb is best at doing arranging and is a killer orchestrator but when it comes down to creating, we both sit and bounce ideas back and forth about story, lyrics, songs and dialogue. After 17 years writing together we have pretty good chemistry!
BB: What's more challenging to both of you? The book or the songs?
AH/CC: BOOK. Back to the original story thing…. We are both musicians and music and lyrics come easily. The story came first funny enough, but making it really gel with good believable characters and structure that is easy to follow and lets your music shine is a lot harder than you would think!
BB: Share some of the highs and lows of writing a new musical…
AH/CC: Lows….the waiting. The patience and being massively let down by people who promise you things that never come through, hustling for funding which is NEVER fun. It’s insanely draining, hard work. The highs are watching the whole thing evolve. Watching people sing your songs and seeing audiences react positively. Being moved yourself by a beautiful performance of something you wrote is certainly a high! Having people come together for something you’re creating is really amazing, not to mention when you start watching incredible Broadway stars perform your work and get excited too!
BB: What are some of the things people don't realize need to happen as a show moves towards Broadway?
AH/CC: We don’t think people realize how actually really long this process is. Just re-writes alone take forever. We get asked all the time ‘When will it be on Broadway’ and we laugh….or cry. Ha ha. But there are so many steps in this. Readings, workshops, out of town try outs, and none of these guarantee you’ll make it all the way and they all require loads of funding and belief from complete strangers so it’s pretty high stress and high risk at every turn!
BB: How do you stay inspired?
AH/CC: We try to stay current with what is going on in the Broadway community. We watch what is successful and what is not. We study things that have had longevity and that continue to be relevant. Also, with the subject matter we are currently dealing with, there is unfortunately a lot of modern social commentary right now that gives us plenty of material to work with and make the piece even more universal. There is ALWAYS something to work on and make your piece better. Our desire to make something really meaningful keeps us working!
BB: What you are auditioning performers/considering certain actors for roles what is it about them that sparks your interests? And what advice can you give performers.
AH/CC: When we have had auditions, we watch for people who seem genuinely passionate about what they are doing. People who perform passionately and have great energy always catch our eye! Of course you look for voice type too and in some cases a certain ‘look’ but you have to spend a lot of time being creative with this group of people and you don’t want people who are hard to work with. We also have just approached Broadway actors and presented the material and asked if they want to be a part and they’ve pretty much all said yes so far! We’ve been very fortunate to have found lots of performers who not only love the work, but have become like family to us. If we had any advice for people doing new work, we would say choose your projects wisely and if it’s a good piece with good people at the helm, be not only dedicated to their cause and supportive in every way possible, but be easy to work with. People get breaks on Broadway because they found the right new project and got on board for the ride and stuck it out all the way to Broadway in lots of cases! There are definitely a few of our current cast members that we would fight for because of the amazing work they’ve done and the wonderful people they are!
Both musicians and performers, Alison Holman and Caleb Collins met at the age of 5 and wrote their original musical ‘Freedom’s Song’ together at the age of 16 and produced it in concert by age 18 in both Idaho and Utah.
After leaving home at 19, Alison moved to Branson, MO and quickly got jobs as a singer and dancer in variety shows in the town as well as guest performances in Las Vegas. She acted as director/choreographer for several theatre organizations as well as writing original variety shows in Missouri. After 7 years in Branson, she accepted a job as a classical pianist for Carnival Cruise Lines and spent 5 years traveling the world and playing music before moving to New York in 2012.
Since moving to NYC, Alison has been acting musical director for the up and coming musical ‘Ghostlight’. She has performed as musical director for concerts at 54 Below and with the Lincoln Center Local educational series and is a member of the Broadway Pops International Organization as a musician. She has also played with the Long Island Philharmonic and for the Stella Adler School of Acting.
Caleb is a self taught pianist/orchestrator who studied briefly at Indiana Bible college before moving to Nashville. He worked with Dove Award winning choirs there and recorded several solo projects, ‘Classics’, a compilation of gospel songs, ‘Christmas’ a Christmas album, ‘Dream’ an album of original songs and ‘Caleb Collins Live’ in Memphis. He has been nominated for several Dove Awards for his work in the gospel industry.
He has worked and performed with such names as Ty Herndon, David Archuletta, Orla Fallon, Natalie Grant, Morris Chapman, Point of Grace, Phil Driscoll, Taranda Greene, The Crabb Family and Michael English.
He moved to NYC in 2012 and fulfilled a lifelong dream of working in the music department for the Brooklyn Tabernacle. His song ‘Faithful To The End’ was the number one song on their recent album ‘Love Lead The Way’ and he also performed at the recent Presidential Inauguration with the choir. He has also been seen at 54 Below and Birdland in Manhattan. He is currently helping on arrangements for the upcoming Broadway musical ‘Allegiance’.
Since moving to NYC, the writer’s musical has made it’s debut in public readings with the ‘New Musicals Festival’ in the upper west side to sold out audiences and also with ‘The Emerging Artist’s Theatres’ New Works Series’ which sold out as well. Recently, their musical was covered in a Playbill feature with Tony Nominee Michael McElroy performing their work. They loved the duo’s music and approached them to film a series with them about their process, a first for the company. Playbill is currently filming the duo for an online documentary series about the development of ‘Freedom’s Song’.
Caleb Collins and Alison Holman
The Cast In Rehearsal
Check out their Indiegogo video to help them further their project.