Mia Moravis is producer, performer in, and writer of new musical, Session Girls, a look behind-the-scenes at the exploits of three women in the music industry. Van Dean’s Broadway Records will record the show’s debut performance Mar. 6 at Feinstein’s/54 Below in New York.
“Session Girls was conceived of in 2007, during a conversation with my friend Michael who, with his wife Liz, had written and staged his own works,” says Moravis.
“At one point, I mustered the gumption to ask if we could ever work together, and he told me to write a musical about ladies my own age. So I wrote Session Girls.”
The musical focuses on a cellist, a producer and a backup singer who are all attempting to navigate the music industry.
“I wanted the characters to be fun, seasoned in their work, and dealing with life’s complexities—love and its travails involving sacrifice, infidelity, addiction, compromise, misconception, misrepresentation, self-control, and self-preservation, all while making sure the bright wasn’t trite, and that none of it was maudlin,” she explains.
She first met Van at the Grammy awards when Van and Broadway were nominated for the cast recording of Matilda.
In July 2015, she became an Executive Producer of his release, A Rockin’ Midsummer Night’s Dream, a NewArts benefit album for Newtown/Sandy Hook
Five months later, she became his and Stephanie Rosenberg’s producing partner for Anastasia~Broadway. In 2016, together they co-produced You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown Off-Broadway at The York Theatre Company.
We met up with her during a Session Girls-rehearsal for an Improper Q&A.
TheImproper: Tell us about Session Girls; what prompted you to create it?
Moravis: “Eleven years ago I was talking with my friends, Michael and Liz, who had written and staged their own works which I liked because they were cleverly written, and the characters were predominantly female. At one point, I mustered the gumption to ask if we could ever work together, and Michael told me to write a musical about ladies my own age. So I wrote Session Girls. The idea of spotlighting three ladies—a cellist (Mariana), a producer (Joli), a backup singer (Cocoa)—navigating the music industry was appealing to me. After all, I was one of them, and I wanted the characters to be fun, yet seasoned in their work, and dealing with the complexities of life—love and its travails involving sacrifice, infidelity, addiction, compromise, misconception, misrepresentation, self-control, and self-preservation, all while making sure the bright isn’t trite, and that none of it is maudlin.
IM: I know the behind-the-scenes of the music business must be a veritable treasure trove of intrigue; what fascinates you about it?
Moravis:In real life, I’m more fascinated by the creative and practical elements of the music business. The treasure trove of intrigue—events that have unfolded in front of me, unrelated to me—are the greatness of which dialogue and plot are made!
IM: Tell us about your relationship with Broadway Records and Van Dean.
Moravis:Van and I met via the Grammy Awards, when he and Broadway Records were nominated for the cast recording of Matilda~Broadway. In July 2015, I became an Executive Producer of his release, A Rockin’ Midsummer Night’s Dream, a NewArts benefit album for Newtown/Sandy Hook. Five months later, I became his and Stephanie Rosenberg’s producing partner for Anastasia~Broadway. In 2016, together we co-produced You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown Off-Broadway at The York Theatre Company. Since then, I’ve been an executive or co-producer on several of Broadway Records’ cast recordings.
IM: How did you set about casting Session Girls?
Moravis: With “Milady Of Magic”, as I call her ~ Robin Carus! We had already cast Brian Charles Rooney as music mogul Terrence Rand, and Bart Shatto as cellist Rouald Finckel, and I’d written theatre producer Mitchie Karabakis with Robbie Rozelle in mind (and he accepted!). Then Robin and I discussed at length each of the remaining eight characters, and we bounced back and forth, “Wouldn’t it be brilliant if we could get__?” which ended up marvelously with Lauren Worsham (our Joli), Lesli Margherita (our Cocoa), Lisa O’Hare and Ryan Andes. Then, Robin waved her magic wand in a most ideal fashion, and we have Oyoyo Joi (our Mariana), Megan McGinnis, Jeff Hiller, and Emily Padgett!
IM: Your music mogul, Terrence Rand, in the production; tell us about the character.
Moravis: Terrence Rand is a nonpareil business man—talented, savvy and, as it happens, quite handsome. He’s a widower. He’s undergoing a harrowing merger with a major record label, and dealing with new employees reviling him because they’re afraid of what’s to come. He is at a point where he is allowing his heart to open up to possibilities and is, in the most gentlemanly of manners, smitten with one of his new producers, Joli.
IM: I would imagine he’s an amalgamation of all of the characters you’ve met, right?
Moravis: Terrence is an amalgamation of several men I’ve observed from slightly afar—based on wonderful and decent unattached men, and the experiences revealed to me by women who are crazy about them! There is one little grain of my own experience in there, which I’ve written into the script at the point where Joli is being told about, but has not yet met, Terrence!
IM: Tell us about some of your other projects.
Moravis: Am working as executive producer, producer and voice talent in a collaboration with Nancy Hahn’s iRead2Know station on iHeartRadio; appearing in a cameo in Madame Butterfly; directing the Lynda Radley play, Futureproof; producing Shakespeare In The Park~The Winter’s Tale; developing a Latin music album; developing a new single; in production for an instrumental version release of Dunoon, my Celtic works on Barry Tomes’ Gotham Records UK; in development on a feature film-thriller (more TBA); and directing/producing for J. H. Sanderson’s Roadhouse Sons audiobook series.
IM: How did Michael Moritz come into the picture?
Moravis: We saw Michael accompany Micky Dolenz at 54 Below, met him briefly at You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown, met him again via David Salidor at Micky’s private party at The Cutting Room, and subsequently saw him accompany Coco Dolenz. Doing my best not to be a gushy fan, we spoke on the telephone about Michael music directing Session Girls, as Van is Co-Producer, and Michael said yes! He is also producing the live cast recording. He is one of the most prolific producers for Broadway Records.
IM: What’s your background?
Moravis: In chronological order: Scottish Highland dancing, music, theatre, television, voiceovers, film, radio.
IM: Do you want Session Girls to play around the country?
Moravis:Yes—said with full self-awareness, and circumspection!