Very little intimidates Shaina Taub when it comes to performance: she sings, writes songs and often acts in her own work. But as she explains on this week’s episode of the Billboard on Broadway podcast, her current project is a little more challenging than usual. Taub is composing the score to a new musical of Shakespeare’s As You Like It for the Public Theater’s Public Works series (Sept. 1-5), acting in her own show and co-adapting the story with director Laurie Woolery, who joins Taub on the podcast.
“It is daunting for sure,” Taub says of turning Shakespeare into a musical. “He’s a pretty good writer! But there’s so much to work with. The characters and story are so rich, there’s so much to pull from. And his language is so musical already.”
“There are so many stories within these stories we could have spun out,” Woolery adds. “We could have created several musicals of As You Like It, based on inspiration of themes and responding to the world we’re currently living in. Shana’s songs have really taken the story to a whole other place for me.”
Taub goes on to talk about her many pop and musical theater influences and how they make their way into her shows. “Usually in a musical, it really is helpful to make very strong specific choices about time and place and genre and a specific musical stylistic approach,” Taub explains. “But in Public Works, our community is so diverse and eclectic that I find it exciting to really go all over the map musically.”
In their discussion with host Rebecca Milzoff, Taub and Woolery chat more about their collaboration, the unique process of working with a mostly non-professional cast of hundreds and how Taub balances the many facets of her artistic career.