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Submitted by and thanks to Mark Rosen (Sam) for this article.

Arts & Travel

Local lyricist pens the Words to Swingstep musical

Special to The CJN

By Kathryn Kates

TORONTO -The poetic words of lyricist Steven Mayoff will be wafting through the air at Toronto's Ford Centre for the Performing Arts, in Silver Fox Productions' new musical  Swingstep, running Oct.12 until Nov. 28.

Swingstep takes place in, Cape Breton and is about love loss and regrets of an older man, who doesn't want to see his granddaughter, a dancer make the same mistakes he did and not follow her heart.'' Mayoff says.

"When a swing band comes to town, she falls for the leader. Sonny, the grandson of a woman who left Cape Breton and happened to be the love of the older man. It is very exciting to watch the choreography. The show has created a hybrid of something new, combining swing music and step dancing.''

Mayoff wrote the lyrics based on a script by his longtime partner Ted Dykatra.

Originally from Montreal, Mayoff's career in theatre began when he met actor, writer, composer and director Dykatra. while Dykstra was attending the National Theatre School in Montreal.

Steven Mayoff follows the pack

"I met Ted in 1981, through a mutual friend. He asked me to write him some lyrics. I did, and we've been writing together for 17 years.

"I Wrote lyrics for musician friends in high school. Then I started writing with Ted, that's when I started thinking about writing more seriously."

In 1984, the Mayoff /Dykstra team moved to Toronto. "The way it works at the National Theater School," Mayoff says, "is once you've graduated, if you want to work in theater you have to move to Toronto because there was no English theatre in Montreal. All my friends were moving; I followed the pack."

Once in Toronto, Mayoff and Dykstra began writing tunes that were leading nowhere fast. Their love of the theatre made writing for the stage the perfect showcase for their music. Although Mayoff does not sing or play an instrument, he has an affinity for music that is demonstrated in his lyrics.

Inspired by the success of The Phantom Of The Opera. Mayoff was looking for a good book to make into a musical. "I went to visit a friend in Ottawa and was looking at his library, when I saw a copy of Oscar Wilde's The Picture Dorian Grey. I showed it to Ted, he updated it. "Their collaboration culminated 1989 with a performance at the Cameron House in Toronto. We packed the place with friends, directors and producers."

The two let the project sleep for awhile, until Dykatra, who co-wrote the successful Two Pianos, Four Hoods with Richard Greenblatt, showed the Dorian Grey project to producers in New York who were vying for the rights of Two Pianos.

New York producer Roger Hess put up money for a two week work-shop and two performances at Toronto's Tarragon Theatre Extra Space. Hess, with director Lonny Price, plans to work with Mayoff and Dykstra on a New York workshop leading to the Broadway stage by late fall 2000

Mayoff's other credits include writing lyrics for recording artist Melanie Doane, who happens to be married to Dykstra. He is currently working on two projects with classical composer Pierre Gallant, a libretto based on the novel The Spy In The House Of love, by Anais Nin and a song cycle called Youkali' inspired by the music of Kurt Weill

In addition, Mayoff and Dykstra have teamed up with playwright Paula Wing on a show called Club Lafayette loosely based on Shakespeare's Measure For Measure, to be showcased next summer by the Soulpepper Company.

Actor Stephen Guy-McGrath has called upon Mayoff to help him expand his show. Bully. Through this association with Guy-McGrath, Mayoff was invited to work on Swingstep.

"The producers of Swingstep were looking for a new creative team from Canada, and Steveni, who plays Bri in the show, suggested me," Mayoff says. "Ironically, another cast member recommended Ted, so we decided we would do the show together.

Swingstep originally played in Hamilton, Ontario and Myrtle Beach. S.C. but it needed work. So Ted is rewriting the story and I am, rewriting the lyrics with the original composer Charles Cozens."

Tickets for Swingstep are available at the Ford Centre Box Office, 5040 Young Street; Ticketmaster, or by calling 870-8000.

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