Voice, an original musical
Voice started with the music. During his sophomore year of high school, Paxton began composing a series of songs, and it became apparent they shared a common motif. They stood apart from other musical scores, but nonetheless stood together. A story emerged to accompany the songs, born of some of Paxton’s long held interests, including radio, and the critical few years after WWII when the seeds of the Cold War were sown. Voice of America -- the radio station which has represented the United States overseas for 75 years -- is at the center of both subjects. There is a rich and dramatic history of VOA during the late 1940s, including scrutiny by the McCarthy-run House Un-American Activities Committee. The New York based studios of VOA provide the backdrop for Voice's traditional musical story, complete with romance, mistaken identity, and a pair of hapless Russian spies keeping the audience laughing throughout. There is a distinctive style to the entire project, and the audience can connect with the delightful music, and the universal theme of discovering one’s voice.
An abridged version of the first act of Voice was produced in February 2010 at Roosevelt High School as Paxton’s senior project. The show involved more that 30 students both on stage and back stage, including a 10 piece pit orchestra made entirely of students from Roosevelt’s nationally renowned music program. The performance was a special presentation at the Best of the Fest showcase for Roosevelt’s Drama Festival of One-Act Plays, and included 6 songs and a condensed version of the first act. It was enthusiastically received by the audience, and feedback from the performance was critical in writing the next draft.
“Voice had its first workshop to a full house in my drama department. The audience was engaged from the first notes in the overture to the final line. Voice will surely soar to Broadway!” - Ruben Van Kempen, Roosevelt High School.
The project continues to evolve. Songs from Voice have been performed at the Broadway Sessions cabaret in New York City, the instrumental backings of a demo album have been recorded, and several readings of the full libretto have taken place. A workshop of the full show is planned by 2020.