At the end of January, I was lucky enough to watch the workshop for Michael Mott and Corey Skaggs’ “Mob Wife: A Mafia Comedy” at The Cockpit Theatre and had SO much fun.
As is often the case with developmental workshops, it all happened pretty quickly! I’d fallen in love with Michael’s music after his songs popped up on a Spotify playlist I was listening to (thank you, Spotify!) and so I was thrilled when I heard he was bringing a production here to London. I’m massively grateful that Michael has taken the time to answer some of my questions and I hope you enjoy hearing a bit more about him!
For more information on Michael Mott and his work, make sure to check out his website here. He’s got some exciting projects coming up, with several announcements coming soon, so make sure you keep an eye out!
You’ve had a wonderfully varied career so far already, with credits as a performer, composer, lyricist, and music producer. Have you always enjoyed working in a range of artistic areas?
I am a Gemini, so I like to be all over the place. No, but seriously, all of these roles are different branches of the same tree. I love being creative, whether that’s writing, performing, recording or producing in the studio. I have been doing this ever since I can remember, so that I am able to do it and make a living from it now is a dream come true.
You attended the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Writer’s Workshop in 2012. How do you feel this experience shaped your work as a writer?
The BMI Lehman Engle Musical Theatre Writer’s Workshop was essential in shaping me as a writer. I am actually still enrolled as an Advanced Member and try to attend every week to surround myself with writers better than me. It can be an incredibly inspirational space and I feel honored to be among such a prestigious list of musical theatre writers.
Who inspires you as a songwriter?
So many people, but my biggest songwriting inspirations are Billy Joel, Mariah Carey and Lynn Ahrens & Stephen Flaherty. I love melodic storytelling pieces.
Your debut album, “Where The Sky Ends”, features some major Broadway performers such as Laura Osnes and Jeremy Jordan. Is there an artist you’d really like to collaborate with one day?
I still can’t believe I got so lucky to have such phenomenal artists bringing my material to life. I have worked with some of my favorite Broadway vocalists, but a few that I have been itching to work with include Ben Platt, Shoshana Bean, Alex Newell, Darren Criss and Laura Benanti.
Where did the idea for Mob Wife – A Mafia Comedy come from? Why did you want to tell this story in particular?
As an Italian child of the 90s I grew up watching The Sopranos. I wanted to write a piece that was The Sopranos meets Noises Off with a Billy Joel-esque soundscape. I don’t think anything like that has ever been done before.
Could you give a teaser as to what the musical is about?
This piece has quite a few surprises and twists and turns that need to be experienced live, so I don’t want to give too much away. However, I will say that while Mob Wife is set in 1975 Staten Island, it’s themes and motifs transcend time and place. Debra Delbono (our mob wife) is longing for a family and her husband Tony has been neglecting her, his job and more importantly himself. Tony is keeping a dark secret and Debra and her best friend, Joanne, go on a mission to discover what that is. In turn, they realize everything they needed was right in front of them all along, but was lost along the way through miscommunication.
What do you hope audiences take away from seeing the show?
The importance of communication. Being open and honest with each other and more importantly, ourselves. Also, society’s “norms” for gender acceptance. I don’t want to say any more because it may give away too much, but that is really what this piece is about.
You’ve presented Mob Wife in various forms before; with its world premiere in 2003, a presentation at The Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival in 2012, as well as an Equity reading in 2013. How do you feel the piece has developed over the years?
The biggest thing I’ve learned in my short time in this business is that you have to allow a piece to become what it wants to be. Whether that’s a show, a song or any piece of art; it doesn’t matter. You can have an initial concept or vision for something, but once you step back and allow it to grow, it reveals itself to you. Sometimes that’s exactly what you had envisioned and sometimes it surprises you. I think our job as creators is to watch and listen to what the piece tells us it wants to be and then do our best to nurture that. It’s almost like raising a child. Mob Wife started off as a bedroom farce musical, then evolved into a dark comedy with a massive heart and is now living in a space in-between the two. Corey (my book writer) and I are doing our best to nurture it and allow the piece to continue to tell us what it wants to be.
What has it been like workshopping the show in the UK?
This workshop was essential to the show’s growth. We learned so much from seeing the piece in front of an audience and through their eyes. Thankfully, we were able to make changes every single day. In fact, on closing night, I wrote a new short song for the character of Marino that we put in the show around 2 pm that day. I brought it to Dan Tomkinson, our musical director, who wrote a quick orchestration for the band, then our director, Harry, staged it with the cast and our phenomenal Marino, Alex Wadham learned it and knocked it out of the park that evening. It’s little things like that that really made the experience invaluable.
What advice would you give to aspiring songwriters?
Write your truth. Be authentic. Find the passion. If it moves you, it will move someone else. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Don’t get caught up in the business side of things asking yourself if it will sell, if it will have an audience, if it’s good enough, just do it. Not everything has to be produced, seen or heard. Sometimes you just have to write for you. Everything you write has a purpose and a reason, whether you know it or not. Sometimes you just have to write to write. The reason will reveal itself to you. Whatever is meant to be, will be.
Finally, if you could do one thing to make the world a rosier place, what would you do?
Allow us all to eat anything we want without gaining a pound. 🙂
And thank YOU so much for reading! If you’d like to read more of my interviews with creatives who inspire me in industry, here are the links for ya. Go nuts!
Interview – Laurence O’Keefe (Composer of Legally Blonde and Heathers, no biggie)
Interview – Scott Alan (US Songwriter and all round beautiful human)
Interview – Nicole Raquel Dennis (Gorgeous West End actress, slaying The Voice UK)
Interview – Rebecca LaChance (Transatlantic gem, played Carole King on BROADWAY)
Interview – Annabelle Hollingdale (Emerging British director, she knows what’s up)
Aaaaaand if you can cope with any more of my musical ramblings, you’ll find me tweeting about Stephen Sondheim at @OliviaDowden and posting Instagram stories about Stephen Sondheim at @oliviardowden. Then for all things Rose’s Supposes and for my weekly #weekendplaylists it’s @ORose_Supposes on Twitter and @orose_supposes on Instagram.
Olivia Rose 🌹