Iit may seem like overkill to release a full "soundtrack" album to the 2009 stage production of my play "The White Airplane," but that impression is dispelled when you hear it. I was so impressed by what composer Eric Leonardson and sound designer Heath Hays had come up with that it would have been a crime not to release something. Working with my labels Brazildisc and Phantom Soundtracks, we compiled the finest moments from the show and added some wicked graphic design from Regan Davis.
The score itself is all instrumental with some dialog snippets. The tone is mostly mellow, experimental, and ambient. There is one of my songs, "White Line Star," from 2001's "Berlin Record" by Teenage Blackout, which was used in the killer trailer from the play. The song was also in my movie, "Travel" (not to be confused by my band Travel.)
Eric's been around the Chicago theatre scene for years. We met in 2004 at a poetry reading sponsored by Twilight Tales, a local publisher. He did musical accompaniment for the speakers using an instrument he designed called the Springboard. It was really hypnotic. I later saw an avante garde production called "The Perimeter" which he scored. It was absolutely breathtaking sound design and composition, and from there I was a big fan. When I asked White Airplane director Susan Padveen if she was thinking of having music in the production, and she confirmed, I suggested Eric. She already knew him and his work, so we lobbied him to work on the show. We're so pleased he agreed, as this is another amazing work.
Sound designer Heath Hays was Susan's pick. I had not met him before. He used Eric's themes as a basis and then added so much in terms of atmosphere. It was his idea to mix up Eric's tracks into different overdub versions so they all could fit as a weird collage. He also treated the intermission music, which fit perfectly with the warped sensibilities of the play. The dream sequence ("A Siege") was also his concoction. Using sound, source tapes, and his own imagination, this soundtrack would not have been as fully realized without him.
"The White Airplane" was a completely unhinged work of fantasy that came together perfectly. The music, the direction, the performances, the costume, set, and prop design all embraced the notion of a surrealism that was utterly at one with the text. Though it did respectable business at the box office, it (as expected) had detractors. It also had "frequent fliers" that saw it three and four times. I hope that the play will last for those audiences and, even if you missed the show, the soundtrack album holds its own completely.
You can read more about Eric and his music at his website.
I don't think Heath has a website.
For information on Polarity Ensemble Theatre, visit their website.
There's also a published book version of "The White Airplane" that was put out by the theater's publishing arm.
For some reviews of the production
(which never mention the friggin' music! -- for shame!), click here.