Ariel's Way

Ariel's Way

Ariel's Way SCORE Now Complete!

The last piece of the Ariel’s Way puzzle is now in place! With the sustained devotion of Jim Henderson and a large group of talented collaborators, Ariel’s Way has taken shape over the last decade.

This amazing show began as a script and songs to feature the talents of a particularly gifted group of high school students. Members of the original, 2005 cast of Ariel’s Way at Carolina Friends School have gone on to travel the world as featured performers, to work on Broadway with equity cards, to record original music with Katy Perry’s producer, and to earn regional recognition as the most talented new actors, dancers, and singers in piedmont North Carolina, Chicago, Los Angeles, and elsewhere.

A decade of persistent, creative and collaborative attention to Ariel’s Way refined its script, professionally produced its 20 songs, created and archived its incidental music and sound effects, developed its costume and set designs, and assembled an excellent video of the show’s professional premiere (employing three cameras and 52 audio tracks).

Even with all this investment of talent, time and money, a final piece was missing: a score.

The search for an experienced arranger began in New York with Jim’s longtime friend, guitarist Jeffrey Lee Campbell (who, after touring the world with Sting, has played the entire New York run of Mama Mia and is now about to open in Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s School of Rock). Jeff sounded out a number of New York theater professionals and ultimately offered the advice that a better bang for the buck might be achieved by working with an orchestrator living in a less pricey city and less competitive market.

In the Bay Area Jim got to know several talented and experienced music theatre conductors. David Möschler, a North Carolina native and graduate of both the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics and of UNC-Chapel Hill, was most helpful in this regard. After arguing for the necessity of a score (unless Jim wanted to be personally involved in every future production of the show), David took time out of his busy life as a sought-after conductor and instrumentalist to connect Jim to Dolores Duran-Cefalu.

Based in San Jose, “Dolo” is an accomplished keyboardist and arranger who has worked as a pianist, conductor, and music director on more than 80 professional shows. In recent years Dolo served as the award-winning the music director of the San Jose Repertory Theatre. Over a period of about nine months, as her busy schedule allowed, Dolo compiled a first-rate score for Ariel’s Way.

The first question to decide was how many instruments to score for. In consultation with Dolo, David Möschler, and Tony Bowman (the North Carolina musician who produced the recording of Ariel’s Way’s songs and served as the pianist and conductor for the show’s professional premiere), Jim decided on six as an economical and flexible ensemble: pc, keyboard 2, guitar, bass, drum set, and percussion.

Dolo built the score using the accurate lead sheets Jim had refined over the years of the show’s development, as well as the actual MIDI tracks heard on the Ariel’s Way CD. As she completed songs, Dolo sent drafts of the parts to Jim, who went over them with a fine-tooth comb.

Once books for each part had been assembled, Jim paid highly experienced musicians to meet with him, one-on-one, and play through each note of all the parts, listening to the CD. Further changes and revisions were made through this process before the final draft was completed. The complete score runs 222 pages for Act 1 and 210 pages for Act 2. It is now available for use by companies that wish to produce Ariel’s Way.

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