By: Sandi Durell
Creative juices flowed for Douglas Lyons and Ethan D. Pakchar while traveling with The Book of Mormon 1st National Tour, when they found they were both songwriters, sparking the creation of #LOVE – that’s HashtagLOVE! As they tell it, they infuse their writing style of pop, R & B and theater with their own spin.
Do they think of themselves as the next Pasek and Paul? Doug says “They’re brilliant. But musically we have our own style with pop, R&B and theater, one which I haven’t seen yet. The only person I’ve seen bring R&B to theater is Stew (Passing Strange) but . . . we’re the next generation.”
“It’s a collaboration,” when asked who writes music and who writes lyrics, with Ethan doing more music and orchestrations. Ethan says “Doug will come to me with rough lyrics and outline and we sit down together and bust it out.”
#LOVE is an album coming out this winter. Some of those songs are slated to make their way into their first musical “Class of ‘79” where they explore the good, bad and awkward roller coaster in human relationships. They seem to have the skeleton of the show pretty well outlined. “We’ll flush it out, put on a reading or two, find a book writer and get to the next level but we’re still writing songs for it,” says Doug.
What’s the show about? Ethan says it has a Stevie Wonder twist within the theater feel. It’s about a15 year high school reunion of the class of 1979 with a pop, R&B flavor that takes us into the 90s as well. “We really dig the funk and R&B in theater,” says Ethan.
Meanwhile Doug is slated to appear in the new “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” as one of the Drifters. “I get to wear a wig and be Up on the Roof.” Ethan is still touring with The Book of Mormon as a guitarist. Meanwhile they continue writing long distance.
Doug says that “what makes us unique is that we’re an inter-racial writing team. . . a musician and an actor. I’m on stage all day and Ethan is in the pit and after, we’re work-shopping music. We’re a great milkshake of brilliance and excitement.”
What do they want us to know about them – – Ethan: “we’re total opposites on paper yet come together . . . the milkshake thing! I’m a classically trained composer, orchestrator and a guitarist who does a lot of Broadway work.” As for Doug “this composing collaboration is freedom from the acting side of my career and a discovery that we have more power as artists than we think. When we’re waiting for that next audition call, sometimes you lose purpose. This writing team has proven to me that you can create your own purpose. Theater music is changing for sure and I’m really excited to be a part of it.”
The team is looking at self-publishing; a single from their album is due out in October and more to be released this winter.
“Class of ’79 fits the niche of musical theater but more of a rock concert with a story that has heart” say the duo.