The following day, Kate and I went right to work on the Book for Part of the Plan. We knew we had a story (the one we pitched to Jean, Norbert and Sheryl), but we needed to make certain it would translate into a script for a stage musical. The characters needed to be fully realized, the plot points had to make sense, and we wanted to create a solid balance between drama and humor, action and romance. We began to write our script, and rewrite, and rewrite.
While this is the first project Kate and I have collaborated on, we discovered we had very similar sensibilities. One would start to explain an idea, and the other would jump in to finish the thought. When we’d get simultaneous goose bumps, it was time to put pen to paper. We knew that Part of the Plan would follow parallel stories – that of the privileged but rebellious Rebecca, who gets pregnant at 16, and Sean, the boy she’s forced to give up for adoption. And we discovered that the best musicals start out with a bang, so we decided to bring up the curtain on a
country club dance in 1950, a la Mad Men, with the entire chorus as wealthy elitists performing “Power of Gold.” When we needed a big Act I finish, “A Voice for Peace” transformed into a Vietnam-era anthem (a troop carrier may
just be the icing on the cake for this scene, if the budget allows ;-).
Those times when Kate and I would disagree, we were always respectful, even while our voices would get louder and we passionately swore that my way (or hers) was PERFECT! In fact, we’re still arguing over whether Sean should accompany himself on guitar when he sings “Leader of the Band” at a critical, dramatic turning point, or whether he should simply sing it standing in a spotlight. Anyone wanna break a stalemate?
It had been a long time since I’d written with a partner in the same room, but Kate and I came up with a system that worked beautifully. On any given day, I would take the scenes from one storyline, and Kate would write scenes from the other. When we’d paste them together at the end of the day, we were always surprised how seamlessly they blended, as if we’d written them together.
We continued to immerse ourselves in Dan’s music, gaining a greater and deeper respect for the man’s talent.
While it’s impossible to do justice to his entire catalog, we selected (and reselected) the songs that helped us envision the story we wanted to tell, a process that’s still ongoing. Just the other day, we added “Ever On,” partly inspired by the feedback we’ve been getting from all of you. I’m certain any Dan Fan will have opinions about where we get it right, and where we miss the boat, but ultimately, we have to follow our instincts. The echo of Jean’s words – to always protect the integrity of Dan’s work – is our guiding force. So we continue to remain true to our vision, our story, and our passion to bring Dan’s music to a generation who may not know his work, to those who may have forgotten his artistry, and to the die-hard fans who yearn to hear his music in all forms.
It was going to take time for all the legal and contractual details to be worked out, which gave us the time we needed to think, create, and write! Throwing ourselves into our work was heaven. We could have kept rewriting the book, but the day of reckoning was coming. We had to get out from our safe little cave of an office and actually hear the words spoken. By real actors! Sitting around a table in Kate’s living room. That, my friends, was terrifying.
- Karen Harris