Rye Myers and Jeffrey Schmelkin are joining forces to bring Jeffrey’s song cycle The Parts I Keep Inside to New York audiences. A deeply personal work, the performance illustrates what it means to be human through the lens of Jeffrey’s own life experiences. That’s a lot to put out on stage, so I spoke with Jeffrey and Rye about all that went into the upcoming production and how the two of them began working together.
The duo have been on a whirlwind ride together, having connected on Instagram less than two years ago and going from total strangers to creative partners. “He told me about the shows that he’s written and that this show particularly, The Parts I Keep Inside, was a show that he wanted to get on stage,” Rye recalled. “It was almost written and he wanted to learn more…And then from there, we just continued to know each other. We met in January 2021, met a lot virtually on Zoom, did a lot of meetups in the park, and that’s how we met. Just through a reach out on Instagram.”
From that point on, there was a process of developing the work into the musical that audiences will get to see at the Triad Theater.
“The show that we did last year was the song cycle version of this. It was just the music, and I really didn’t know what we were going to do with it. I thought that it was just going to be a COVID project: get it done, have a good time, and call it a day,” he recalled. “But then after we closed last summer, Rye and Patrick B. Phillips, our then-music director, now our music supervisor, said to me ‘What’s next?’ I was like, ‘I didn’t really plan for anything next.’ I started to think about, how can we make this bigger and better?
“I realized that all the songs, all those stories were so specific to my own experience that this new version [could] be almost like the documentation of the last version that we did,” he continued. “I even wrote myself in as the writer to the show. I’m not performing, but we have Jeffrey on stage actually interacting with these four different storylines, as well as the music director coming up with this overall production to try to help gain some closure and really feel better about ourself.”
It’s a journey that Rye can personally identify with, because aside from being a producer, he’s also a host and content creator, most notably with his talk show Live With Rye & Friends on Broadway. However, he’s not just getting into producing as the next thing to add to his resume. He believes in supporting other creatives and helping develop their platforms as much as his own.
“I never want anyone to feel like the project they work on can’t be done, because that project could change the world and could inspire so many people, like this musical is,” he reflected. “I wanted to be able to take my love of performing and the love that I had for the actors and put that into producing…It’s been exciting to be able to be that person that’s able to bring those stories to life or be able to use those resources to help get that story to life, whether it’s for one night only or whether it’s for several nights.”
Having spent considerable time with the material now, there are several little aspects of The Parts I Keep Inside that resonate with each of them in big ways. “For my music nerds out there, a lot of composers really have light motifs that they add into their music for a multitude of reasons,” Jeffrey teased. “There’s one motif that comes back in the whole show, but it always comes back in a very specific way on a very specific moment of each character, of each song.”
“You hear a little bit of Stephen Schwartz, a little bit of Jason Robert Brown, a little bit of Stephen Sondheim, a little bit of all these composers that we know,” Rye agreed. “Not in a mimicking or copying way, but you hear the notes and you hear the inspiration, and it’s just truly remarkable.” But beyond the music, the duo want to leave their audiences with the same amount of self-reflection Jeffrey experienced while creating th piece.
“What people will honestly take away from this is the fact that they don’t have to go at it alone,” Rye continued. “You all will see something you relate to…Everything that we go through as humans that we may not like to talk about, you will see on stage and you’ll understand ‘I’m not the only one that feels like that. Somebody else does, and I see that, and I’m being seen and noticed.’ I think anybody, no matter who you are, this will relate to you and you’ll be able to see that.”
The Parts I Keep Inside premieres at the Triad Theatre on July 9 and 11. Tickets can be purchased here.
Article content is (c)2020-2023 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr and on Instagram at @BFTVGram.