Music by CHRISTOPHER J. ORTON
Book & Lyrics by ROBERT GOULD & CHRISTOPHER J. ORTON
Full professional, Suitable for amateurs (rights available)
“Grace Notes” is a three character musical about music, passion, ambition and love that tells the story of a relationship over a period of around 20 years – between 1967 and 1987 – in New York city. White singer/songwriter Sam West and black singer Grace Warner, meet three times, embark on a relationship three times, and break up three times. All along the way, Sam’s best friend and manager, Jerry, lends support and observes, inwardly tearing himself apart because of his love for Sam – a love he can never declare openly.
The structure of the plot is not linear – it moves back and forth between three time zones (1967/8, 1977 and 1987) in an almost Tarantino-esque fashion. At times it reflects the racial prejudices and tensions of late 1960s USA; it follows the rising and fluctuating careers of both Sam and Grace and it tells three love stories at three different times in the lives of characters whose love for each other cannot survive the trials of ambition, drugs, infidelity and the inevitable pressures of the music business.
It begins with three scenes that depict the three times that Sam and Grace meet, then the various stages of each relationship are revealed – right up to the three times that they break up. Along the way Sam grooms Grace from a shy naïve youngster to a confident woman who becomes a star: he tries to protect her from the jibes and threats of racial prejudice and even writes her a number of hit songs, including a moving ballad that becomes an anthem for peace and racial equality (“Hope Is Color Blind”).
But Sam is driven by an inner conflict with his overbearing father and a desperate need to succeed. Essentially his relationship with Grace is doomed never to work because Sam always puts his ambition before his love for Grace. “Grace Notes” are a musical adornment – and that is the way that Sam treats Grace until she finally finds the strength to break from him for good.