I am making a show, inspired by the Guerrilla Marching Band experience. The format of my show is that it starts off as a singer/piano double act, and throughout the duration of the show more musicians are added to the arrangement by surprise. They are literally hiding behind the bar, behind the sound, and they’re going to pop up in the middle of the show when the audience is not going to expect them. The audience is going to think that it is just me and a piano player singing songs at them for an hour, and they’re not going to know what’s going to happen.
This was the pitch – an attempt to gain performers for Sneaky Sneaky Productions’ musical theatre/marching band experience The Teeny Tiny Music Show, currently on stage at the Hamilton Fringe Festival. Creator and lead singer Hayley Pace had written this pitch so many times and sent it to so many musicians over Facebook that it is permanently embedded in her brain.
“I wanted to come up with something that absolutely needs to be seen live, especially in our generation when we have home comfort entertainment," Pace said. "We don’t have to leave our homes to be entertained, so I’m inspired by the power of surprise and bringing unexpected musical events into a theatrical setting.”
Pace says the inspiration for her show came from a Lemon Bucket performance that she had seen two months prior where a small musical piece was set up outside of a grocery store, and slowly in turned into an entire marching band parade that took the audience down Queen St., in Toronto, meeting up with two other bands along the way.
“It was amazing. I’ve never been part of a musical event like that, where I felt so included as an audience member. This is exactly what I want to bring into the theatre,” Pace said. “In the midst of it all, I saw this sax player in the band – from Detroit – and I fell in love with him. I went up to him, in the middle of him playing, and asked him his name, his age and if he was single.”
Pace says that’s where the idea for The Teeny Tiny Music Show was conceived. “I’m telling the story of how I met him, and what happens after you pursue a relationship in this context. It’s inspired by a true love story.”
Pace says she has incorporated a variety of music into her show – all covers of rock and pop songs from the past six decades.
“It’s making a comment on a few things. In our generation our music tastes are so elastic, we have access to so much, that we can be inspired by so much. The show moves in between this story that I tell, and the music I’m singing. They are carefully chosen songs, but each song is like a milestone in the story. They’re all linked to memories I’ve had with this person, and I think we’ve all gone through that,” Pace said.
For The Teeny Tiny Music Show, Pace has gathered a complete ten-piece marching band. And according to her, this was no small feat.
“It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done; it was a full-time job,” she explains. “No one knows who I am, no one cares about who I am, and I’ve just graduated from York University. It was a really tedious process, and I did hold auditions, but only of two of our current band members were selected from that audition process. And I only got like eight or nine auditions. I got nothing! Musicians are very busy.”
With such a little turn out, Pace had to turn to social media (primarily Facebook) and through much networking and “stalking,” as she calls it, pitched her show to as many musicians as she could find.
In the end, Pace gathered her motley crew (all musical puns intended) of musicians, to create the final ten-piece band that would make up The Teeny Tiny Music Show. One such musician is the tuba and didgeridoo player Braedon Suggitt, who had a lot to say about transitioning his musical talents into the performance style needed for this piece.
“It’s been very different and very fun at the same time,” he explains. “It’s a very welcoming environment because everyone’s working together to reach the same goal, but playing music is very different in this setting. One, you have to have everything memorized, but it’s also very improvisational as well. You can go off script a little and play little flourishes, which is not something you’re used to doing in this setting. As well, the way your body moves with the instrument is a new dynamic that I’ve never really experienced.”
Pace says she sees a future for this show that stems beyond the Hamilton Fringe. She and her company are making plans to explore the piece further, and maybe even bring it into Toronto for future showings.
“We’ve become a real band,” Pace said. “We really want to keep this going.”
Directed by Ryan Percival, The Teeny Tiny Music Show is playing at the Baltimore House, as part of the Hamilton Fringe Festival until July 24. For more information, visit hamiltonfringe.ca.