Writing styles

Manhattan Beach author takes leap of faith and pursues musical theater writing – Daily Breeze

Kim Bixler is no stranger to putting pen to paper.

In 2012, the Manhattan Beach resident published a book called “Growing up in a Frank Lloyd Wright House.”

In September, PBS premiered the documentary “Frank Lloyd Wright’s Boynton House: The Next Hundred Years” for which Bixler was interviewed. About five years later, in 2017, PBS interviewed her again for a TV show about the architect. After this episode aired, Bixler received a strange call from someone with a phone number from Boca Raton, Florida.

It was film producer Harvey Rochman.

“He wanted me to write a script,” Bixler said, “and he wanted me to do it in three days.”

The problem was, Bixler said, she had never written a screenplay in her life.

But this unexpected experience helped launch a new passion: writing an original musical.

“I couldn’t stop thinking about the idea of ​​writing a screenplay, I love musicals so much,” Bixler said. “That’s what really stuck in my head.”

  • Kim Bixler of Manhattan Beach at New York University. Bixler will discuss his trip on Monday, August 8 at El Segundo Library. “My Midlife Crisis: Musical Theater Style!” will take place from 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. (photo courtesy of Kim Bixler)

  • Manhattan Beach's Kim Bixler pictured on her first day at...

    Manhattan Beach’s Kim Bixler pictured on her first day at NYU in 2021. Bixler will discuss her trip on Monday, August 8 at the El Segundo Library. “My Midlife Crisis: Musical Theater Style!” will take place from 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. (photo courtesy of Kim Bixler)

  • Manhattan Beach's Kim Bixler pictured with NYU collaborator Carlos Bauzys...

    Manhattan Beach’s Kim Bixler pictured with NYU staffer Carlos Bauzys when she recently visited him in Brazil. Bixler will discuss his trip on Monday, August 8 at El Segundo Library. “My Midlife Crisis: Musical Theater Style!” will take place from 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. (photo courtesy of Kim Bixler)

  • Kim Bixler will discuss her journey at NYU on Monday, August 8....

    Kim Bixler will talk about her NYU journey on Monday, August 8 at El Segundo Library. “My Midlife Crisis: Musical Theater Style!” will take place from 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. Bixler is pictured July 20 at the El Segundo Library. (Michael Hixon)

When she told friends over dinner that she was going to write a musical about Wright, she knew she was committed. After workshops, classes, and self-study for a few years, she took a leap of faith and applied and was accepted to New York University in March 2021. She will enter her sophomore year in August and earn her graduation in May.

Bixler will discuss his trip next week at El Segundo Library, 111 W. Mariposa Ave. “My Midlife Crisis: Musical Theatre-Style!” will take place from 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. on Monday, August 8.

Bixler encountered obstacles after deciding to launch his musical theater career.

She started writing lyrics and story ideas when she started collaborating with a composer. But this composer, Bixler said, “dumped” her before entering the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers competition. She participated in the competition in November 2017, without the composer. She didn’t win.

Bixler attended the Iowa Summer Workshop and had a reading of his musical in July 2018.

Almost a year later, she found a new Canadian composer, but ultimately dumped him because he was “too promising and not up to par,” Bixler said.

But she wasn’t discouraged

When the pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, Bixler took playwriting classes at the Berkeley Repertory Theater in Northern California and through the Chicago Dramatists Guild via Zoom. She also did Zoom readings of her work with actors.

For the rest of the year, she enrolled in New Musicals Inc.’s one-year program, and in November attended a Zoom Open House for NYU Tisch’s Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program.

In January 2021, at age 51, Bixler submitted an application for NYU’s writing program. After making the final round, she attended NYU’s Candidates Weekend via Zoom in March of this year. This weekend included interviews and presentations featuring 50 candidates.

“Half of those people are in dorms,” Bixler said. “It was crazy.”

Bixler was nervous, she said.

She tried not to draw too much attention to the difference between her and the other contestants.

“I wouldn’t show any of my background, I took off all my jewelry,” Bixler said. “I wasn’t trying to look younger. I was just trying not to give it my all.

During the interview, Bixler was asked if she had any concerns. She did it.

“I’m much older than everyone else,” she said.

But they told him that wouldn’t be a problem. The university would choose people based on their talent.

“I look around the room,” she said, “and I’m like, ‘That’s great because I’m the only old person here, so that’s really great for me.’

Bixler said she thought she wouldn’t be accepted. She was wrong. On March 20, 2021, she received notice of acceptance to NYU.

And NYU is not cheap. It costs around $35,000 per semester.

But her husband, Tim, is a retired attorney who is currently an adjunct professor at Cornell Law School.

They currently live in New York, a sabbatical house they rent from a professor at Princeton University. Likewise, they are currently subletting their Manhattan Beach home.

“Fortunately for me, he loves musicals,” Bixler said of her husband, “and he’s ready to join me on this journey.”

They have two children: Kendall Bixler, 24, who lives in Portland, Oregon, and works at a birthing center, and Robert Bixler, 22, who lives in New York, works at CitiBank — and has dinner with his parents on Sunday. .

Bixler’s first semester at NYU was filled with songwriting labs, playwriting and screenwriting classes, as well as various other classes like music theory. She also took singing lessons the first semester.

She has been exposed not only to students younger than her, but also to those around the world, including Mexico, Brazil, South Korea, China, Canada, and Iceland. Bixler was paired with these international students for her homework.

Bixler expanded her studies in her second semester, taking animation, podcasting, and puppetry classes while focusing on writing.

A final project at the end of her second semester was a 20-minute musical, which she called “incredibly fun.”

“But it was at the end of the semester, and everyone is exhausted and tired from what has been a demanding college year,” Bixler said. “We were the only ones who ended up finding actors to direct it, without scripts.”

A much more daunting task, Bixler said, will be his final project — two full-length musicals. The faculty paired her with the second-oldest student, Brazilian Carlos Bauzys, who just turned 40.

They worked well together, Bixler said, due to their professionalism and closer ages.

But there was little rest before school started.

They will have had three meetings, one in June, July and August. They are required to have outlines and themes for two complete musicals by the end of August and one will eventually be chosen.

One of the musicals she is working on with Bauzys is based on the life and death of the latter’s friend, Fernando Barba, multi-instrumentalist, composer and founder of the Brazilian body percussion ensemble Barbatuques. He died last year.

“He suffered from a brain tumor later in life and it’s about losing that connection to your body,” Bixler said. “What if your body is your instrument and rhythm is your whole identity and you lose both of those things?”

In July, Bixler traveled to Brazil to meet Bauzys. She also met Barba’s family and visited the apartment where they cared for him the last months of his life.

“I think more than anything they wanted to meet me,” Bixler said, “and also see how Carlos and I interacted.”

Bixler said she hopes the musical will do well at NYU and later in some productions in the United States. But she also said she thinks it could also have “a lot of potential” in Brazil.

After graduating, Bixler said, she hopes to focus on a musical based on the life of towering architectural figure Frank Lloyd Wright.

“It’s my passion project that I’ve been working on for so long,” Bixler said. “I have so much great material and I think the problem with me is that I just needed to know how to structure and tell the story. That’s what I’m learning now, how to tell this story .

Bixler was an accountant alongside her mother’s handmade jewelry business — which has been around for more than five decades — while raising her children and volunteering at their schools and at the Cornell Club in Los Angeles. But being at NYU, Bixler said, allowed her to be “super creative.”

“It’s like taking the chains off,” Bixler said.

“I had a few friends I grew up with who told me I had no idea you could even do that,” Bixler said. “I’m like, ‘I didn’t know I could do this. “”

Bixler’s Aug. 8 event will feature original stories, videos, and songs collected during his freshman year at NYU.