“The Best Part of My Day” is the opening number from Pr0ne, a musical by Underscore Theatre, a non-profit theatre company I co-founded in 2011. The purpose of an opening number is to pique the audience’s interest, introduce characters and present themes, both musical and dramatic. The form of “Best Part” is fairly typical: a collage of themes that resurface throughout the play in various incarnations. We have the initial “there’s a moment” theme introducing us to the main topic and versatile ensemble. Next comes the “ooh yeah, just like that” theme that introduces two main characters. Lastly we hear “there’s always another girl,” which becomes the show’s mantra, heard in multiple contexts throughout the play until its full realization in the finale.
Pr0ne follows Jessica Harrison, an aspiring film actress, and her family as the country discovers her secret: that she is the unnamed, possibly exploited, young woman in an adult “casting couch” video at the heart of a highly-publicized legal battle. As Jessie struggles to decide how to testify, her brother and his ridiculous college roommate embark on a quest to clear her name while her parents try to come to grips with the idea of their little girl in porn.
We had two major goals in writing Pr0ne: to write a story that was entirely plot-driven and to seriously explore a very touchy subject. Our previous work mainly relied on developing interesting characters; this time we wanted to write a story that would rivet and surprise audiences with its twists and sub-plots—a sequence of events that would make people wonder what would happen next. Pornography is fascinating because it’s simultaneously ubiquitous and taboo. We try not to draw any moralistic conclusions. We want to get audiences to connect with the characters and the story, and open up discussion of the subject matter.
I recorded and mixed this track using Logic Studio. All instruments are sampled except for the guitar which was performed by Jerrod Schober, Underscore’s house guitarist. The production features a seven-piece, on-stage band.
David Kornfeld grew up in California and received his BA in music from Carleton College where he studied composition with Alex Freeman and Mary Ellen Childs. He studied djembe, kora, and dance in Mali. He also collaborated with Malian slam poet Aziz Siten’K on a track on Siten’K's 2010 album, Tounga and was credited as “Tieba Traore USA" (long story). Kornfeld has composed and music-directed four musicals which have been performed in Chicago, Minneapolis, Northfield, Kansas City and Indianapolis. He co-founded Underscore Theatre Company in Chicago and serves on its board as Producing Artistic Director. His arrangements have been used by the Northfield Arts Guild in Minnesota, Whidbey Island Center for the Arts in Washington and Theatre-Hikes in Chicago. He has been commissioned twice to compose incidental music for Carleton Players’ productions. Kornfeld is the recipient of such awards as the Sigrid and Erling Larsen Award in Creative and Performing Arts, finalist in the 2011 ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Awards competition, and a Kennedy Center commendation for Achievement in Music Composition in the 2012 American College Theatre Festival.
In addition to his work in theatre, Kornfeld is an avid jazz composer and performs regularly with his piano trio, Professors On Furlough. He is also a Music Teacher at Bubbles Academy, a children’s enrichment school in Chicago. Apart from music, Kornfeld loves the outdoors, sketching, cooking and sustainable design.
Underscore Theatre is a non-profit theatre company that produces new works of musical theatre and plays that rely heavily on music in their execution. Pr0ne is Underscore’s fifth production in Chicago and the fourth musical written by David Kornfeld, Laura Stratford, Alex Higgin-Houser and Brendan Siegfried.
On this track:
David Kornfeld, mixing
Jerrod Schober, guitar
In this musical:
Jessica Harrison, the Unwitting Pornstar: Sarah Hoch
Charlotte Harrison, the Mom: Susan Thomas
Victoria St. John, the Pornograher's Girlfriend: Leah Isabel Tirado
Eddie Buonocazzo, the Pornographer: Sam Button-Harrison
Sergeant Bill Harrison, the Dad: Colin Reeves
Connor Harrison, the Brother: Andres Enriquez
Todd Spudnik, the Troublemaker: Nick Druzbanski
Catherine Gellar, the Assistant District Attorney: Casi Maggio
The (very) Featured Ensemble: Miki Byrne, Kimberly Grossman, Nick Kern, Joshua Peterson, and Aubrey Stanton
Director: Alex Higgin-Houser
Music Director: David Kornfeld
Production Manager: Brendan Siegfried
Choreographer: Jon Martinez
Assistant Director: Lauren Lundy
Dramaturg: Aaron Stephenson
Lighting Design: Sophie Blumberg
Sound Design: Jon Levitt
Costumes: Jerica Hucke
"Singletrack" is CAR's Artist Story for Chicago performers in which songwriters and bands discuss a song and how it came to be alongside audio or video clips of the work. To submit your track for consideration, please email the editorial staff.