Lauren Gaffney sets her sights on Broadway… and K-Pop

by James Hendicott

Award winning musical theatre composer Lauryn Gaffney, from right here in Dublin, made her off-Broadway debut last year with ‘Big Shot’, a show voted the Best Musical by Irish Broadway World.

Suffering an obvious dearth of opportunity amid the recent virus outbreaks, this year Gaffney turned her hand to making a short audio-only musical story, a 15-minute piece about two strangers trapped in an elevator and sharing their emotive stories.

It’s an impressively colourful and engaging piece of music and storytelling for one that was effectively a time-filler, but Gaffney’s aims, it quickly become clear, are vast.

In particular, she’d like to work for Disney, or write for stars of the South Korean K-pop scene. But that’s for the future.

“My dream was to have my first musical Off-Broadway and sometimes I still can’t believe that it happened,” Gaffney says, looking back at ‘Big Shot’.

“There were many, many people, a lot of hours and a splash of luck that helped get the show to where it has been.”

“The show was performed initially in DCU in 2015. Then I funded the next production in the O’Reilly Theatre.

“We then took part in the San Diego Fringe Festival (winning the ‘Spirit of Fringe’ award and also performing in Tijuana, Mexico), and the Camden Fringe Festival, with some Irish performances in between, and then finally Off-Broadway.

“This was over the span of a few years. My incredible collaborators and I have spent many all-nighters calling the U.S., laughing at rewrites and crying over tech issues, but it was all worth it to be smiling, arm-in-arm at the bows.”

Corona, of course, required a change, and Gaffney adapted quickly. “I think now is the time for Musical Theatre to pivot until live shows come back. I’ve always wanted to write an audio-only musical where you don’t need to see the story to understand it,” she says.

“I want listeners to visualise the characters themselves. This musical links to isolation as there are two women trapped in an elevator with no choice but to hear one another’s story.

“I wanted it to be funny but have some serious elements too. It’s been described as ‘an emotional rollercoaster in under 15 minutes’ by Broadway World.”

“The music and lyrics almost always go hand in hand when I write. I often construct songs based on the character and how they would sing, speak and act. With ‘I’m Here To Say Goodbye’ I gave myself a limited time frame to get to know these characters, so musically and lyrically each song had a purpose.

“For example, in the song ‘I Hate People’, the character is telling us every single thing she hates about humans. This could be written in an angry manner but the character is young and mischievous so the music is upbeat and happy making this song more of a comedy piece.”

“I’m currently adapting a book into a stage musical with a talented librettist in England. I’m also writing with very talented Irish female pop singers, who will have their work out February and March this year.

“I currently work for a publishing company in Dublin ‘The Nucleus’ and myself and my writing partner Ally Donald and I are pitching many different genres, but this year like last year we’re going to focus a lot on K-Pop which we love writing! Hopefully we will break the Asian market soon!”

As for the future? “I have a few dreams,” Gaffney says. “I’d love to have a show on Broadway! I would love to land a great songwriting pitch with a K-pop artist and a pop artist. I also would love to write for any musical movie. Especially Disney.”

Lauryn Gaffney’s lockdown audio-musical ‘I’m Here To Say Goodbye’ is available on YouTube now.

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