How to make a musical in a month

·2 min read

Every month, a different artist gets to spend a month living in the historic Jenni House in Shipyards Park in Whitehorse, working on whatever they want to work on.

Painters, potters and poets have all used the time to try something new, or finish a project that's been on the shelf for a while.

Musicians Kevin McLachlan and Calvin Laveck wanted to get a good start at writing a new musical, and left with 16 new songs and nothing less than a 92-page script.

"We did our work in the Jenni House with a lovely view of the Yukon River, so lots of Yukon inspiration all around us," said Laveck. "We just read book after book, we'd get in in the morning and get our tea and coffee and just start reading ... yeah, it was non-stop reading."

"Every now and then we would read a story that was so preposterous or larger than life that we'd be like, 'We've got to get this in somehow' because it was so hard to believe," said McLachlan.

The work in progress contains stories and songs about famous Klondike characters like Sam Steele and Kate Carmack, as well as stories about people whose names are lost to history.

Photo submitted by Kevin McLachlan.
Photo submitted by Kevin McLachlan.

It was an education for two people who grew up in the territory, surrounded by gold rush mythology.

"There are a lot stories throughout the Klondike that do have multiple different viewpoints depending on who saw it or who wrote it, which is really interesting, because it's kind of like a new take on old classics," said Laveck.

"Calvin and I have worked together and done lots of things together, but we've never written at this kind of scope before," added McLachlan. "We had just such a great synergy in the room writing, we were able to get ideas and bounce them back at each other and next thing you know, a song would be born from it."

Laveck said, "Every day we'd come in and it was nose to the grindstone. We were feeling so inspired and we inspired each other, which was really awesome. Near the end, we were like, 'We're so tired, we are so tired.' Then we printed the script off and realized 'we did it.'"

The project still has to go through a lot of stages before it's finally on the stage, but they say the month-long burst of creativity spent along the Yukon River will keep them inspired.