The Faces Behind the Music in “The Shadow Box”

When Samantha Bowers was approached by theater director Martin Marchitto to create original music for this fall’s play, “The Shadow Box,” she was quick to say yes. It is an opportunity that any songwriter would immediately jump on. After all, the actors are the ones who truly bring a play to life but it is the music that ties it all together. Bowers, along with George Schlinck, spent one month creating an original score for the drama that centers around three different families who are going through hospice care in this heart wrenching play.

Photo by James O'Connor.
George Schlinck, left, and Samantha Bowers, right, wrote the original score for “The Shadow Box.” Photo by James O’Connor.

Bowers and Schlinck spent time with the material and realized that the three families in the play all had different themes even though they were all tied to one idea. After creating three different themes the writing process between the two became organic.

“The very first thing that happened was Sammy sending me a voice memo on her phone of her idea for one of the themes. I immediately came up with another idea a half hour later,” Schlinck said. “Basically it all starts from one single idea and then the other develops off of it.”

The themes that Bowers and Schlinck developed are centered around the three stories in the play. One being a husband and wife and the husband has just weeks to live and the two of them are coming to terms with the things they never had together. The other is an elderly man who is at the end of his life and his younger gay lover and ex wife come back and they deal with the importance of relationships one has at the end of their life. Lastly, there is a mother who is dying and her daughter is there supporting her and they are appreciating the last few moments they have together.

The music is strictly instrumental, Schlinck plays guitar while Bowers plays the piano. Music plays an important part in the play but it is in no way a musical.

“Its a play that has music when there is a very important line, or a line that needs emphasis or something needs a huge lighting cue or a tone has changed,” Bowers said.

Over the past month, the two have been collaborating with Marchitto to get his take on what they had been working on. And like all collaborations, some things were taken into a direction that was not expected.

“They expanded on some of the musical moments different then I had envisioned,” Marchitto said. “But what I was impressed with was that they were able to take and read the script with my notes and have a clear understanding of how it would work.”

Not only do Bowers and Schlinck have the title of composers, but they are also starring in the play playing as husband and wife. The one thing they are both excited for, aside from the music, is that they are diving into more serious roles than roles from years past. Players put on Little Shop of Horrors last spring where they were both playing animated and comical characters.

“Its hard to play human other than yourself,” Bowers said. “If you are playing a character that is goofy its easy to be goofy all the time. Its a real challenge and its really exciting to be like there is a real human that I am reacting to as a real human but its not me.”

You can not only see the work of Bowers and Schlinck but hear their work as well during the performances of “The Shadow Box” set to take place Nov. 13, 14, 15 and 16 in The Box in Thomas Hall.