Renowned Annie composer to produce new musical, King's students assist with recording


Joey Glass contributed to this piece. New York, NEW YORK--In 1958, Charles Strouse wrote the music for A Pound in Your Pocket, a radio play written by two journalists and based on a story by Charles Dickens. Decades later, Strouse’s manager Carolyn Copeland discovered the piece, fell in love with it and is currently producing it.

King’s students, Ciara Curran ('16), Margaret O’Leary ('14) and Chelsea-Dagmar Wetherill ('15) participated in several tracks on the demo recording. Curran, O’Leary and Wetherill recorded the song, "Sleeping Dreams, Waking Dreams” together; Curran and Wetherill recorded a few solo songs as well.

Lecturer in Music at King's, Virginia Pike, helped the students secure this opportunity and as a result, Strouse and Copeland invited Curran, O'Leary and Wetherill to callback auditions for the Annie musical national tour.

"It's a very exciting opportunity for our budding musical theater program here at King's," Pike said.

Strouse is a legendary composer and has written the music for many acclaimed works, including the famed musicals Annie and Bye, Bye, Birdie. Strouse wrote A Pound in Your Pocket shortly before writing Bye, Bye, Birdie, his second collaboration with Adams, which became his breakthrough hit in 1960.

Charles Strouse and Chelsea-Dagmar Wetherill. Photo by Virginia Pike.

Strouse described his collaboration with Adams as "a kind of marriage of the minds." Neither Adams nor Strouse was married at the time, but Strouse explained that "ultimately, when it worked, the process involved a kind of digging into the other person’s heart and brain and then a lot of rejection, as well as acceptance.” Ultimately, Strouse believes this was a good thing, though it could certainly be vulnerable at times.

Describing A Pound in Your Pocket, Strouse said, “It had a lot of heart - maybe more heart than craft about it - but I think that gave it a kind of openness.”

Strouse said that his first work reflects a rather naive, enthusiastic side of himself. A Pound in Your Pocket has a lot of, as Strouse puts it, "innocence."

Strouse supposedly used to attend all of the Annie calls, as well as the callbacks.

Chelsea-Dagmar Wetherill and Margaret O'Leary in Strouse's recording studio. Photo by Virginia Pike.

“I went to every one of them. It was my first Broadway show, and anybody who walked in off the street, I really wanted to listen to them. In Annie, you have to stop doing it, because there are a thousand girls who turn up for Annie all the time...but it’s a thrill for me. I love performers. I worked all my life as an accompanist with performers. I feel very much a part of their pain, their ambition.”

Lately he has not been attending all of the calls because of his busy schedule, though he still attends the callbacks, including Curran, O'Leary and Wetherill's.

Curran heard about the opportunity to record with Strouse rather suddenly and received all of the music she was supposed to sing within 24 hours of the recording. She learned all of it by the next day, and 72 hours later she sang it for Charles. For Curran, who grew up adoring the musical and sleeping with an Annie playbill tucked under her arm, this opportunity has been a dream come true.

Curran said, “I’ve known about Charles Strouse my whole life. Annie was my first lead role when I was eight, so I’ve loved his music ever since I was little, and it’s not something that you would ever say no to.” Curran was surprised to see Strouse at the Annie callback she attended.

She said, “He...absolutely loves what he does, and that makes me love it even more.’”

“I...identify with people who want to make it in this stupid business, like I do,” Strouse said.

Describing one of her favorite moments of the recording experience, Wetherill said, “[Strouse] actually started tearing up when he heard his songs. I felt so wonderful being able to do that for him. This is something he wrote so long ago that never made it to Broadway, and now that it’s being produced and put together, he actually gets to hear it...To see him so happy and so moved was the greatest part of that.”