For many artists, it can take years to complete a work of art. For Arcadia native Sara Matin and her friend Anthony James Procopio, it has taken only a year to write, produce and direct their first original musical, titled Leading Ladies: A New Musical.
The duo met while attending ASU. At the time, Matin was a senior majoring in theater, and Procopio was a sophomore studying music composition and music education.
“Anthony and I discovered that we both wanted to write for musical theater,” Matin said, “and it’s so rare to find someone wanting to do the other half of this profession.”
“I’d already written an original show my senior year of high school,” Procopio said. “And now, by the random odds of the universe, we found we are two halves of the same whole, and we realized we could write and complete something like this.”
It took several months for the pair to brainstorm ideas for the show.
“We were torn between whether we wanted to adopt an already written story, which is pretty traditional for people starting out, or if we wanted to do an original story,” Matin said.
By January 2020, Matin and Procopio decided on an idea, and Leading Ladies: A New Musical was born.
The setting is in 1957 Hollywood at the height of the movie musical legacy. A studio is faced with producing its first musical movie with a leading lady who can’t sing and can’t be fired. The studio decides to hire another girl to dub the music. They hire Ella Lark, who slowly becomes friends with the leading lady, Charlotte Finley, but she can’t tell her she’s dubbing the songs.
“The whole show explores the consequences of actions, the complications that come from risking everything to pursue your dreams and poses the question: Is it worth risking everything that you have?” Matin said.
When Matin and Procopio began writing, they thought their first production would be held in a theater, in-person, but that wasn’t to be. Over the summer, they got the idea to do a filmed reading. By October 2020, they’d finished writing, and production was underway.
“We began virtual casting right away,” Matin said. “We reached out to local artists and posted audition information. Actors and singers auditioned by submitting videos, and we had callbacks over Zoom. That’s how we created the cast to do our virtual production.”
“Sara was our librettist, lyricist and director,” Procopio said, “while I was the composer and music director.”
Throughout the fall, they rehearsed with videographers, sound designers, stage managers and audio engineers.
When they were unable to find a suitable indoor location for filming, Matin’s parents cleared out three rooms in their home, and they went to work converting the space into a studio, complete with floor rugs to provide some sound dampening.
Filming wrapped in November, and Matin and Procopio entered postproduction.
Tickets sold – some even to people in different states and countries – and the virtual production debuted earlier this year.An original cast recording is available on Apple Music and Spotify.
“This isn’t the final product,” Procopio said. “Our hope is to eventually do an in-person production complete with full scale costuming, staging, set design and a 32-piece orchestra.”
Dates for the in-person show will be announced via Instagram, @procopio_matin.