By Kathy Chateau
When the Tony Award-winning San Francisco Mime Troupe opens its 62nd season with “Tales of the Resistance, Volume 2: Persistence” on Sunday, July 4th, Richmond’s own Daniel Savio as the show’s composer / lyricist will be his mark added. The Atchison Village resident, who has been working with the political comedy troupe since around 2006, is currently working on his latest weekly radio play podcast series, which will run until September 5, 2021.
How, one might ask, does a pantomime troupe conduct a radio podcast? While many people are familiar with the French style of silent pantomime, the San Francisco Mime Troupe, according to Savio, draws on the ancient Greek tradition of vocalizing “everyday occurrences in stories and songs.”
When it comes to his creative process for the show, people often want to know what comes first for him, the music or the lyrics. “For me it’s almost always the lyrics, but it’s really the script first because I almost never write lyrics until I’ve actually got a script in hand, or at least part of a script,” he said. While his fellow songwriter friends often draw on their own inspiration, Savio says he “helps tell stories that come from someone else’s head”.
Last year, due to the pandemic, the troops traditionally appearing in parks went online for the first time with “Tales of the Resistance”. While last year’s band had several different storylines that interwoven in the final episode and culminated in the final episode, this year’s season is arranged differently. Savio sees music differently from episode to episode, from the “jazz and rock end of the spectrum” to classical and beyond. “I’m sure we will go in many other directions as the season progresses.” This year, in addition to his other roles, he will also play the keyboard on much of the material.
Savio said it was “very rewarding but also very difficult” to get the show off the park and into the podcast. While he misses the immediate reaction of the live audience and the physical presence of his staff, “there are things we can do on recordings that we couldn’t do in the parks”. One creative avenue opened up by relocating the show online was the chance to work on a song for last year’s production with his cousin – a songwriter and composer / lyricist who lives in Switzerland, according to Savio. It is “very, very exciting and fun to work together,” said Savio of the cross-continental collaboration.
So what advice does Savio have for young musicians looking to take a similar path? “You should dip your toes in every available pond,” he said, highlighting his work not only in the theater but also with rock bands and hip-hop and jazz musicians. In musical theater, the styles of which vary greatly from show to show, “it is truly an incredible resource for yourself to have knowledge of a wide range of different music and different approaches to making music so that you can refer to it when the opportunity arises.” . . “
Click here to preview the episode of San Francisco Mime Troupe’s “Tales of the Resistance, Volume 2: Persistence” ahead of the show’s debut on Sunday, July 4th. Find out more about the troop here.