Music Makes Me:
A Wave of Doug Price Music
My visit with Doug Price
By Mary Alderson
“This is going to be the biggest night of my life!” That’s how Doug Price enthusiastically describes his upcoming show, Music Makes Me, at the Wolf Performance Hall November 1st.
The young composer/performer is returning home to London, presenting an evening of music he has created himself. There will be 20 pieces of his original music, with 60 performers, including London Central Secondary School’s wind ensemble and jazz band, and the Lester Pearson School for the Arts’ chamber choir. London jazz vocalist Denise Pelley will also be on stage, along with five of Doug’s good friends – Aaron Mackenzie, Adam Hobbs, Anwyn Musico, Jono Logan, and Alicia Toner, all Toronto-based actor/singer/dancers. Doug is the music director of his show, and will be playing piano.
“It’s crazy how much work goes into a two and half hour show,” Doug says, “There were a lot of hoops to jump through.” But ticket sales are going well, and Doug is confident the 370 seat Wolf Performance Hall will sell out. Coordinating rehearsals with all the performers is the current challenge. He’s very excited about having the entire show recorded. “It’s my goal to have the entire show professionally recorded and edited, so that I can use it to promote my songs,” he adds.
A Londoner born and raised, Doug is eager to showcase his material in his home town. He is the son of Gary and Diane Price of London.
This isn’t the first time Doug has presented a show of his own works. In December 2009, he presented a 20-song cycle of his original compositions, entitled Colours and Textures, upstairs at Toronto’s Berkley Street Theatre. At that show, he had nine performers, with a drummer and bass player, while playing keyboards himself.
Some of the songs in Music Makes Me were debuted in Colours and Textures, but more than half will be new works. In the earlier show, the songs were written for solos and duets, but now he has added full orchestrations, he explains.
Doug has already built a reputation as a musical composer in London. When he was in the 11th grade at Central Secondary, he wrote a one-act musical for a drama class project. His teacher encouraged him to expand on it, so that it could become the school’s musical the next year. Thus “Socks – The Musical” was born. “I spent four or five months writing it, I wrote all summer,” Doug says. He created the book, lyrics and music, and arranged all the orchestrations. Socks grew into a two act, two and a half hour show with 14 fully scored songs, which ran for five nights at Central. Doug conducted and musically directed it. “It was pretty incredible. I learned that one of the greatest gifts you can get is when people believe in you, when you don’t really believe in yourself,” he muses. Teachers, friends, music teachers and his parents all believed he could fully create this musical and with their support, he did it.
“Socks is far from over,” Doug continues, “I’m going to pick it up, blow the dust off, make it fresh and new, and somewhere, somehow, it will be on stage again.” His success with Socks begat more success. Socks won the Brickenden Award for best youth production in London in 2004. Then, based on his creativity, Doug was nominated and won a Canadian Top 20 Under 20 Award in 2006.
Doug was no stranger to the stage prior to presenting his original works. “I caught the bug in grade three,” he explains, “I was seven years old in a talent show at my school, and I told the story of Aladdin, with a Genie puppet my family bought at Disney World.”
He was a member of Original Kids, playing Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors, and Bob Cratchit in Scrooge, directed by Don Fleckser. He also appeared in four High School Projects at the Grand Theatre: The Artful Dodger in Oliver!, Tommy Djilas in The Music Man, Fyedka in Fiddler on the Roof, and Will Parker in Oklahoma!.
Doug is a graduate of the Music Theatre Performance Program at Sheridan College in Oakville. “Sheridan is one of the best, if not the best, triple threat program in the county,” he says. He describes his three years as ‘wonderfully adventurous’, and adds that it was crucial to his development as an artist. During his time there he played Baby John in West Side Story, Starbuck in 110 in the Shade, and Hot Blades Harry in Urinetown.
In the summer of 2006, he was part of the Young Company at the Charlottetown Festival, another positive experience. Then in summer 2007, while Doug was still a student, I had the pleasure of working with him. Doug, along with my son, Thomas Alderson, volunteered to create, direct and choreograph a troupe of six students, the original Lambton MainStreet Players. This group travelled all over Lambton County putting on shows in the downtowns of villages and towns to attract tourists and shoppers, as part of a community economic development project which I managed. It was highly successful, thanks to Doug and Thomas’ creativity and hard work. The young people proved very popular, singing and dancing their way through 75 performances.
When Doug graduated from Sheridan, he spent five months as an entertainer on Carnival Cruise Lines, travelling along the U.S. west coast and Mexico. Since then, he’s been busy on stage, appearing in Anne of Green Gables in Regina, and playing Sparky in Forever Plaid in Gananoque and Petrolia. In the summer of 2009 he was assistant musical director of The Barbecue King in Bobcaygeon, a position he reprised in the summer of 2010 in Port Stanley. He also appeared in Oh, What a Lovely War at Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre this year.
Recently, Doug returned from St. John’s, Newfoundland where he played Action in West Side Story. Currently, he is appearing in Forever Plaid again, this time in Toronto, and next he travels to Canmore, Alberta for the Christmas season, to appear in Plaid Tidings. After that, who knows? Doug is giving serious consideration to continuing his education. He’s been accepted at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston to study music composition, and is trying to decide if that’s the next big step he wants to take. “So far, I’ve focussed on myself as a performer, and I’ve been successful. Composing and writing was a hobby for me, but if I go to Berklee, I’ll make it my career. I’m excited and fearful at the same time,” he explains.
With or without the next step, Doug’s resume is incredibly impressive for someone who is only 23.
His dedication to his craft – whether it be performing in musical theatre, or creating and composing – is always evident. It’s confirmed with his usual signature at the conclusion of his emails: “…Without a song or dance what are we?… –ABBA”
There’s a page on facebook created by Doug’s friends and classmates called “I knew Doug Price before he was famous” with 235 members. It is only a matter of time before it’s outdated. You’d better click on it right now, if you want to be counted in that elite group. His concert on November 1st will be another leap forward on Doug’s journey.
Music Makes Me: A Wave of Doug Price Music – Wolf Performance Hall, 251 Dundas Street, London, November 1 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets available at The Grand Theatre Box Office 519-672-8800.