SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Oct. 6, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — Gephardt Daily had the opportunity to speak with the Grammy® Award-winning songwriting team Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally, who wrote the score for “Shucked,” a new Broadway-bound Musical about the one thing Americans everywhere can’t get enough of: corn.
The show will have its world premiere at the Pioneer Theater Company from October 28 to November 12.
The production is described as follows: “’Shucked’ is the new musical comedy that shows that sometimes tearing down some walls, instead of making them grow, is the only way to preserve our way of life. ‘Shucked’ is about to turn Broadway on its head and offer a grain of hope for our divided nation.”
Clark, who has been nominated for 10 Grammy® Awards, spoke from California before traveling to Salt Lake City for a month to put the finishing touches on the score, while Grammy® Award-winner McAnally spoke from Salt Lake City on Tuesday morning.
In addition to having a thriving solo career, Clark’s songs have been recorded by Sheryl Crow, Miranda Lambert, The Band Perry, Reba McEntire, LeAnn Rimes, Billy Currington, Darius Rucker, and Kacey Musgraves, among others. She was nominated for Best New Artist at the 2015 Grammy Awards.
McAnally, in addition to being a solo artist, has written and produced songs for artists such as Kenny Chesney, Luke Bryan, Walker Hayes, Lady A, Reba McEntire, Lee Ann Womack, Kacey Musgraves, The Band Perry, Brothers Osborne, Old Dominion, Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert, Kelsea Ballerini and more.
Clark talked about how she and McAnally met and discovered their chemistry as writers:
“We met in the kitchen is what I always tell people because that’s the truth,” Clark said. “I was writing in a publishing company, that Shane, he wasn’t in the company, but he was coming to write with another writer in the same publishing company that I was in, and we would all meet in the kitchen in the morning. and have coffee, you know, everyone who wrote there, so there could be, you know, 10 writers in that kitchen. And I was there writing with another guy who has also had a lot of success with Josh Osborne.
“And I met him (Shane) and felt this instant connection with him. And he said he felt the same way about me. He and I were scheduled to write to each other the next day, we had never met before that, and he called the person we were scheduled to write to, who was known to cancel sometimes and said, we can’t cancel this, I have a feeling about this girl. And so we wrote, and our first writing date was not magical. But he called me right after and he was like, I know that wasn’t like, you know, we didn’t hit it out of the park, but I know we can.
“And from there, we started writing, not just writing, but going out a lot. We became great friends and really, I think the magic of Shane and I is that even though we come from very different parts of the country, we come from the same place and see the world in a similar way; we have a lot in common, we were both very close to our grandmothers, and you know, we love our mothers, and you know, kind of the same age and, you know, we both love country music, we grew up with it . That was how it started. And then it wasn’t long before the creative chemistry happened.”
McAnally elaborated on this story, referencing the great Loretta Lynn, who passed away on Tuesday.
“We’re both like (Lynn’s) mega fans,” she said. “We both have, we had similar grandmothers and our grandmothers died around the same time, even though we didn’t know each other then. And our stories about our grandmothers are very similar and one of the things that our grandmothers had in common is that everyone told them they looked like Loretta Lynn.
McAnally explained how the two became involved with “Shucked.”
“Brandy as an artist had released an album called ’12 Stories,’ and this was about 10, a little over 10 years ago,” he said. “And when they started looking for writers to do this, I know they talked to a couple other people, but what happened was someone in the process said that this ’12 Stories’ album is what we envisioned the music to sound like. And so we wrote that record together.”
Clark discussed how the name “Shucked” came about for the title of the musical.
“I wish we could take all the credit for that, but we can’t take all of it,” he said. “The whole team, meaning myself, Shane, Robert Horn, our book writer, producer Mike Bosner, (director) Jack O’Brien, we all had a great creative meeting and were trying to come up with a title for the book. Program. And, and I think it was Shane who actually said ‘Shucked’. And I remember it wasn’t, it wasn’t like, like everybody was like, ‘yeah!’, you know, there was a lot like, ‘oh, like oysters? I don’t know, this could be confusing. But it stayed, you know, and I have to say the longer it stayed, the better. I mean, I think I personally think it’s a pretty cool title and it wasn’t mine. So I feel like I can say that. It really sets the show.”
McAnally explained what the two will do while here in Salt Lake City.
“Because of COVID and because we got this kind of two-year bonus that seemed like a detriment at first, but it became the best gift because I think two years ago we thought the show was done,” he said. “And what happened was the whole show was completely rewritten and pulled apart. We tried a few things that really worked. So we hit Salt Lake, I think with a show very close to being over. So, like yesterday being the first day, we knew that the director and Robert had some ideas about a song that we needed in the second act, so we went ahead because we had time and we hadn’t been together feeling inspired. We went ahead and wrote it.”
McAnally added: “Today, we’ll probably clean up that song, show it to everyone and see what the notes are. And then beyond that, we have a couple of reps to work on and from now on, that’s it. So being here this long could probably seem a bit indulgent, as we may not need to change much, but what I’ve learned about the process of musicals, it’s very different from our world, as a writer and producer in Nashville, is that sometimes just sitting with things and looking at them over and over, new things will evolve and we’ll say what if that line changes to this? Sometimes you just need to be there.”
He also talked about the benefits of writing with someone you know very well, like he does with Clark.
“I feel like it’s a huge advantage,” he said. “I can’t imagine doing something as big as a company with someone with whom I didn’t have a natural relationship or a more than creative rhythm. We can’t afford to try to avoid each other’s feelings. Our story shows that we respect and love each other and if one of us says I don’t think that’s right, no one has to go down the road of feeling like they know, feeling personal, because we both know how much we respect each other. .”
Clark said the show is important in the current climate of 2022.
“I think it’s going to help, it’s going to make people laugh,” he said. “More than anything, I think it’s important for that reason, and I think we’ve all been through a lot and to have a couple of hours where you can go and be entertained, I think that’s more important than anyone. really even knows. But I also think it’s important because in its humor, it addresses some pretty important things. You know, some pretty big stuff. You know, our story is about a town that no one has ever left and no one has ever entered. And they are afraid of outsiders. And they have to save their city, they have to let an outsider in. And I think that says a lot about what’s going on in our world.”
When asked what his dream trajectory would be for “Shucked,” Clark said. “Well, my dream would be for it to run on Broadway for decades. And what would that show be? The first show I watched was ‘Oklahoma.’ When I was a kid, my mom took me to see a community production of ‘Oklahoma.’ And my dream would be for many, many young children to discover musical theater by seeing community productions of ‘Shucked.’”
Clark added that the show is kid-friendly.
“I think it’s a family show,” he said. “I think it’s a show that, you know, some of the humor is a little bit more than PG, but that humor tends to get passed over by those who shouldn’t be listening to it.”
Clark said she is pleased with the cast, which includes Broadway veterans John Behlmann (“Tootsie,” “Significant Other”) as Gordy, Kevin Cahoon (“GLOW” on Netflix, currently on “Monarch” on Fox) as Peanut , Andrew Durand (“Head Over Heels,” “War Horse”) as Beau, and Caroline Innerbichler (Anna on the “Frozen” North American tour) as Maizy.
“I feel like we have a dream cast,” he said. “You know, along the way, I’ve grown fond of different people because this show, in some form or fashion, has been in the making for a decade. And then you get attached to different actors in different roles along the way and, you know, things happen, they’re no longer available, or the show changes and it doesn’t work. And that’s always a bit of heartache. But I feel like this cast that we’re coming to Pioneer with is really the right cast for the show. And that feels great, and it’s not the way I would have dreamed it would be; It doesn’t look like the way I had it in my head. But it’s even better.
Following the release of “Shucked,” Clark will record a new album in November, while McAnally will travel with her husband and 9-year-old twins.
“We’re getting our kids out of fourth grade, we’re traveling all over the world,” McAnally said. “We did our first 100 days in Europe. We came right from there to here and they’re in Nashville doing regular doctor appointments, dentist appointments, but we’re homeschooling this year. And that’s why we love to travel, even finding any city that makes the city work.”
After Salt Lake City, McAnally and her family will head to Africa and then South America.
“We started in Morocco,” he said. And then we’ll be in Egypt. And then we go to Kenya. So it’s a month and then we’re going home for Christmas. For a week. And then we do our South American piece. Yeah. So yeah, pretty exciting actually. We are very, very blessed and the timing aligned with the show as well. Because we’ll do this for six weeks, we’ll go to Africa, we’ll come home for Christmas, we’ll go out to South America, and then we’ll all be in New York City for the Broadway installation. So I mean, honestly, this is like a dream.”
Gephardt Daily asked the pair what they thought of the most perfect country song of all time.
“I don’t know if I could pick one,” Clark said. “It’s difficult you know, because I have my favorites but the most perfect ones you know so many, so many. Let me think here for a moment if you give me just a second, it really narrows it down. ‘Crazy’ is my favorite country song of all time. But I don’t know if that’s the most perfect thing you know, I mean, ‘Green Grass of Home’ is pretty cool. You know? Because there’s something to me about a country song that makes you feel good, no, I’ll tell you what I think is more perfect, I think it’s Merle Haggard’s ‘Are the Good Times Really Over for Good’. I think country music really celebrates blue collar, small town American values, and that song doesn’t have that, you know it misses a different time?
McAnally added: “My favorite song of all time is a song called ‘Don’t You Know Me?’ which is an old Eddy Arnold song and I love it, it’s very cheap. It’s very simple. It has very few letters and ultimately the hook is; ‘you’ll never know the one who loved you, so no you don’t know me’. It’s basically unrequited love.”
Tickets for “Shucked” are available individually or as part of PTC season packages at PioneerTheatre.org or by calling the PTC Box Office at 801-581-6961.