Is ‘For the Sender’ Broadway-bound?
The book-turned-album by San Diego troubadour (and former “Love Boat” child actor) Alex Woodard now has a sequel and a likely musical theater adaptation
By George Varga
U-T San Diego
APRIL 10, 2014
The audience attending Friday night’s “For The Sender: (Love Is (Not a Feeling)” concert at Oceanside’s Star Theatre will be treated to an evening of heartfelt songs and stories by songwriter-cum-author Alex Woodard. He’ll be joined by such accomplished musical pals as Molly Jenson, Jack Tempchin, Nena Anderson, Graham Nancarrow and Jordan Pundik of the band New Found Glory, along with a surprise guest or two.
As an added bonus, the audience may be getting a preview of a musical that may be bound for Broadway.
Entitled “For the Sender,” it combines songs and letters from Woodard’s 2012 book and album, “For The Sender — Four Letters, 12 Songs, One Story,” with its new sequel, “For The Sender: Love Is (Not a Feeling).”
Both showcase a series of inspirational, true-life stories about life, death and love, about coping with big challenges and savoring small victories in order to find the redemptive spirit that lies within. More intriguingly, rather than make “For the Sender” an autobiographical work, he found much of its inspiration in the lives of everyday people.
Those people included a grieving New England woman, the director of a San Diego homeless shelter and a relief-worker helping earthquake victims in Haiti, as he explained in a 2012 U-T San Diego interview.
Now, “For the Sender” is shaping up to be sent to a national stage. It’s an unexpected new chapter that finds Woodard collaborating with veteran Broadway producer Kathleen Johnson. She in turn teamed him with arranger and orchestral conductor Jonathan Tessero, who later this year will be conducting concerts with the Vancouver Symphony and the Buffalo Philharmonic.
“There’s a Broadway adaptation going on now, of the first and second (‘For the Sender’ iterations). I’m trying to meld them together,” said Woodard, a former child actor whose credits include “The Love Boat’ and a Skippy’s peanut butter commercial that aired for years.
“I’ve been to the readings… one in New York and one in L.A. It’s progressing, but there is no time frame. You get to a great place (with it) and the producer decides: ‘OK this is ready,’ and they’ll pick a smaller theater (to start at)… there’s talk of doing it here in La Jolla, at the La Jolla Playhouse (in the fall), and see how it goes… I wouldn’t hang my hat on it; it’s a very fluid situation.”
Woodard, 41, never planned to write a book or make an album inspired by letters he received from relative strangers, let alone a sequel.
Nor did he anticipate a possible musical, especially since he underwrote the books’ publication himself and recorded the accompanying songs with help from an array of North County pals, including Jenson, Tempchin, Jon Foreman of Switchfoot and Nickel Creek’s Sara and Sean Watkins.