The Last Session (Original London Cast Recording) CD [Darren Day]
Composer: Steve Schalchlin
Lyricist: Jim Brochu
Schalchin. Steve/Brochu, Jim
IN STOCK NOW - IN ADVANCE OF THE MAY 20th RELEASE DATE!
The best AIDS inspired song I've heard in the last fifteen years is 'Going It' Alone which closes the first act of The Last Session. In the ballad, a dying man comes to the realization that while he may be on his own in a losing battle, his longtime companion could be experiencing the same isolation. It's a heartbreaking outcry in a heart-mending show. Jim Brochu has created a comedy-drama wrenched from deep places within himself. The cast sings like tarnished angels and act like the devil. (Village Voice, David Finkle - June 16, 1997)
THE LAST SESSION
Starring DARREN DAY, SIMONE CRADDOCK, A J DEAN, RON EMSLIE & LUCY VANDI
Set in a recording studio in 1996, singer/songwriter, Gideon is holding one last session to record the most important album of his life. To show his undying love to his partner, he plans to record a musical letter of farewell. For this last session, he reunites with some old friends and is joined by an unexpected visitor, for whom Gideon's sexuality changes everything. The Last Session is a rollercoaster of passion, emotions, hope and humour. It's a story of a man's past and his hunt for a future and a newfound reason to live.
The Last Session is partly based on composer Steve Schalchlin's own experiences and was written in an era in when AIDS was a terrifying and growing epidemic for which treatment was largely experimental. This landmark musical originated Off-Broadway and features a surging score of blues, rock and gospel with lyrics that only a person who has been close to the edge of tragedy could write.
The show won a host of awards following its 1997 Off-Broadway premiere including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book in the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle and is a GLAAD Media Award winner. The Last Session also received nominations by both the New York Drama League and the New York Outer Critics Circle for Best Musical.
2.Save Me A Seat
3.Shades of Blue (Sound Check)
Buddy, Vicki, Tryshia and Jim
5.The Preacher and The Nurse
Tryshia, Gideon, Vicki and Buddy
Vicki, Tryshia, Gideon and Jim
Gideon, Tryshia and Vicki
Gideon and Buddy
10.Going It Alone
Buddy and Gideon
11.At Least I Know What's Killing Me
Buddy and Company
14.The Singer and The Song
Tryshia and Company
16.When You Care
Tryshia, Gideon, Vicki and Buddy and Jim
17.Shades of Blue (bonus Track)
**** Time Out Critics Choice
"Darren Day excels...The power of his voice was never in question, but he ably proves his acting chops in a challenging and multi-layered role...This is a terrific, little-known musical, and one that deserves considerable success in its London debut."
***** A fantastic show; touching, funny and, dare we say it, pretty damn life-affirming too. - Gay Times
**** thoroughly engaging, innovative and moving, life-affirming! - Plays To See
"...full of sorrow and soulfulness. . .terrific vocals all round...Darren Day. . .lends the role a fine, fierce vocal attack! - The Stage
Darren Day as Gideon
Simone Craddock as Vicki
AJ Dean as Buddy
Ron Emslie as Jim
Lucy Vandi as Tryshia
Musical Director: Tom Turner
Produced on the London stage by Rob Harris for CliMar Productions
Directed by Guy Retallack
Written during a turning point in the fight against HIV/AIDS, by Jim Brochu and Steve Schalchlin, performers/authors of the Off-Broadway musical, The Big Voice: God or Merman? and Jim Brochu's New York Drama Desk Award winning 'Zero Hour, the Zero Mostel Play', this is the "score that saved Steve's life," written as musical therapy, in real time, to songwriter Steve's own AIDS diagnosis and subsequent battle on a deathbed, with seemingly with no hope on the horizon (he survived when his name was picked in a nationwide lottery for a limited experimental drug.)
The brutal emotional honesty of the rock/folk/gospel songwriting won it a passionate following. And Brochu's innovative scenario in a recording session from (always hilarious) hell played out in real time, created a dramatic tension that brought both painful laughing and happy crying. And it seems to have been taken from today's headlines, as it presents moral and dramatic dilemmas, tackling such subjects as religious homophobia, politics, bullying and violence against GLBT teens (fictional, but based on real life people and events from Schalchlin's life.)
The Last Session was also one of the first shows to use the Internet. First to stream live. Its importance to gay youth in the United States, has been largely unreported, though the Los Angeles production was awarded the coveted GLAAD Media Award for Best Production.
Consisting of five characters, The Last Session reunites a group of singers, friends and band mates to record one final album, except for the unexpected arrival of a guest singer who spoils what was supposed to be a nice, quiet goodbye party. The Last Session's gospel inflected score appeals to people who don't like musicals. Audiences actually sometimes thought that they were attending a real recording, and were sometimes afraid to applaud.
Critics who reviewed this little gem of a production, starring Tony nominee actor/songwriter Bob Stillman, which appeared on the fringe of the tsunami that was "Rent," compared them favorably. Though the show had a healthy six month run in New York, with subsequent award-winning productions in Los Angeles, Houston, Denver, Baltimore, Chicago, etc. it's still largely unknown except to real musical afficionados. No film was made. No official video exists, though there are bootlegs around.
MORE GENERAL INFORMATION:
The Last Session was nominated for Best Musical by the New York Drama League and the New York Outer Critics Circle. The subsequent Los Angeles production, produced by the Laguna Playouse, received 5 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards including Best Production, Best Book, Best Music & Lyrics and Best Supporting Actress in a Musical, Michele Mais. It also received Outstanding Los Angeles Theatre Production by the prestigious GLAAD Media Awards along with the PFLAG-LA Oscar Wilde Award for promoting understanding through the arts. It has been produced by both professional and amateur companies all over the country, including Houston, Dallas, Denver, Baltimore, Omaha, Rochester NY, Indianapolis and (at Northeastern University) Boston.
Rights to produce The Last Session are available through Samuel French in New York. This site will be updated soon and on a regular basis. Please visit composer Steve Schalchlin's Living In The Bonus Round website, an online diary.
THE LAST SESSION - REVIEWS FROM COAST TO COAST...
Best Musical Nomination - New York Drama League
Best Musical Nomination - Outer Critics Circle
The Last Session is a sleeper hit of a musical running at the 47th Street Theatre. Though the central character has AIDS, The Last Session is not a depressing experience. It features talented actor-singers, Steve Schalchlin's wonderful score (the story is based on Schalchlin's own life) and Jim Brochu's book (he also directed the show!) Don't miss this one!
Liz Smith (November 10, 1997)
Funny! Enlightening! Enjoyable! Trust me, The Last Session is a life affirming musical that packs it all in, and with a bigger bang than many a glitzier, neon-light fronted show, fueled by its very unique energies and strengths.
Curtain Up, Elyse Sommer (October 1997)
Winner GLAAD Media Award - Best LA Theatre Production
Winner - Best Score - Los Angeles Drama Critics Award
Winner - Best Book - Los Angeles Drama Critics Award
Winner - P-FLAG Oscar Wilde Award
Best Musical Nominee - LA Ovation Award
Top 10 of 1998 - Los Angeles Times
Top 10 of 1998 - Los Angeles Frontiers Magazine
The Last Session is screamingly funny, yet love is everywhere. Individually, the cast are vocal dynamos but singing in harmony they are heaven on earth. The audience joins in a chorus of sniffles. Written from the heart, Schalchlin's gospel tinged pop tunes exert a rare emotional pull and Brochu's story telling allows them to emerge realistically out of the action. Again and again, a fierce drive takes overtakes the tunes melodic strains. It's life taking hold again - hope rising on powerful wings. Critics Choice.
Los Angeles Times, Daryl H. Miller (December 7, 1998)
No ifs ands or buts, you have to get yourself to The Last Session - a raucous cacophony of morals, music, religion, life and love and ten powerful musical routines that will blow you away. Be prepared for dialogue that is quick, witty, wicked and wonderful. Through a variety of musical styles - gospel, rhythm and blues, rock and roll and pop - The Last Session is so rousing, heart warming, full of life and healing (and also uproariously funny) that it had the opening night audience on its feet for a full five minutes.
Long Beach Press Telegram (December 10, 1998)
The premise is simple but the characters are rich, the script crackles with wit, the songs are stirring and the cast is terrific. Composer Schalchlin provides soaring anthems and stinging satire while writer-director Brochu keeps the energy high and the laughs frequent. Pick of the Week.
L.A. Weekly, Neal Weaver (December 10, 1998)
Brochu and Schalchlin use a remarkable blend of music and humor to offer a memorable tribute to plain and simple courage. The Last Session is a moving testament to the power of love, loyalty and friendship. Pick of the week.
Backstage West, Teri Roberts (December 10, 1998)
The Last Session is a life-affirming celebration: An intimate musical with impressive dialectical fireworks and exceptionally enjoyable songs.
Orange County Register (September 20, 1998)
Schalchlin's score is both moving and melodic. His solid anthems ring true, beginning with the lightly humorous and tender 'Save Me A Seat' a moving ballad in which Gideon imagines his own memorial service. The Last Session rings true when it touches on Buddy's crisis of faith and reach deep when Buddy lays hands on Gideon in a prayer of healing. The unlikely pair square off in a holy moment that resonates beautiful of grace.
San Francisco Examiner, Pamela Fisher (June 19, 1999)
It's a hell of a show. This is my second time seeing this powerful musical. I love it in Los Angeles and I love it here. Schalchlin's emotional score blends gospel and rock, and even though the songs speak of AIDS they have n upbeat tempo that is never depressing. Jim Brochu's book is bright and funny. Direction is fast and crisp. If you want to see a 'Hell of a Musical!" I highly recommend The Last Session.
Talkin' Broadway, Richard Connema (June 21, 1999)
The Last Session, an off-Broadway musical about a dying singer/songwriter can cast theatergoers into a sea in which waves of poignancy, joy, distress, fear and empathy surge over them. The conflict between the two driven women - longtime, unfriendly rivals, provides some of the nights best comedy. A must-see.
Denver Post, Ed Will (June 18, 1999)
Forget the bleak subject matter, The Last Session has plenty of heart to make up for it. It's a highly personal piece that succeeds because of its intimacy and unvarnished sincerity.
Rocky Mountain News, Tom Wise (June 18. 1999)
What we should all do is form an orderly line up at 12th and Vine in the lobby of the Ensemble Studio Theatre and thank Producing Director Lynn Meyers for bring Steve Schalchlin to town in his energizing musical, The Last Session. It's a gift. Grave thoughts on the subjects of fright, frustration, anger, depression and AIDS are investigated with power, point and poignancy as well as wit and no small measure of mordent humor.
Cincinnati City Beat, Tom Cleverish ((July 11, 2000)
They don't come more heartfelt than The Last Session, the off-Broadway musical that the Downstairs Cabaret Theatre opened last night. The show combines biting humor and heart-tugging pathos, a tricky feat this production pulls off handily. The women trade insult while the recording engineer adds sardonic commentary from the booth. The edgy humor is the ideal balance to the often wrenching music. For the audience, it makes a full and moving experience. The Downstairs Cabaret Theatre's roof stays on but I don't know how.
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Mark Liu (January, 2001)
LAGUNA BEACH, CA
The Last Session is a hilarious, poignant and ultimately very moving play that works on many levels and unfolds with a brilliant blending of naturalistic type and theatrical imagery. The play is as inspiring as it is entertaining and the real beauty of it is the handling of a subject that has been too often beaten to death and cliche ridden in contemporary theatre. The whole play is a song about life and living.
The Laguna Beach Press, Tom Swimm (September 28, 1998)