Sarah Stiles Shares Behind-the-Scenes Stories From Her EP You Can Ukulele With Me | Playbill

Cast Recordings & Albums Sarah Stiles Shares Behind-the-Scenes Stories From Her EP You Can Ukulele With Me The Tootsie Tony Award nominee's debut EP is available August 21 on Broadway Records.
Sarah Stiles Nathan Johnson

You Can Ukulele With Me was recorded over a weekend in late February 2020 just before New York City went into lockdown. All of our musicians and Scott Wasserman, our arranger, were coming and going from their Broadway shows. I was in the middle of shooting a new series and coming from a late night of filming in Long Island. Everyone had a million projects and was so busy busy busy! The New York hustle and the hustle of being an artist. And then two weeks later....the world stopped. At first it was hard to do anything. Everything felt dangerous. Takeout food was surely contaminated, doorknobs were toxic and a hazmat suit was required dog-walking attire. It was not a fun time. And work felt so far away. Even as I write this now, six months later, it doesn’t feel much closer. But we spent these last six months mixing this album and getting it ready for you and during this time the songs, which always resonated with me, got further into my belly. I’m so grateful this album came together when it did and that I get to share it with you now.

"Simple Song of Love (The La La song)"
This is the first song I ever learned how to play on the ukulele, and it was the first song Holly ever wrote for the ukulele. She’s our first born and we don’t have favorites... but she might be our favorite. Holly writes, “When I wrote this, I was really thinking about humanity, even though the ideas are expressed using a relationship as a metaphor. Because we’re all in this worldwide relationship. Sometimes it’s so beautiful, but so much of the time we get so narrowly focused on our own individual desires that we forget that life is short and love is all you need (thanks, john).”

"Dumb People"
Holly asked if we made this a duet, who would I want to sing with? First answer: Andy Grotelueschen. At the time we were just finishing up our run as Jeff and Sandy in Tootsie, and I just loved working with him so much. Andy is the kindest, funniest, most charming of dudes and I thought his voice would rock in this song. It’s a song about how being the nice (dumb) guy doesn’t always get you what you want, but how being the nice (dumb) guy is far superior. To quote Holly, “I’d still rather believe in people. Even if it means getting the short end of the stick sometimes.”

"Forever Dreaming"
I cried the first time Holly sang this song for me. Everything Holly writes comes from her heart and her experiences, so I knew the loss and grief was real. But what I love about this song is the hope and joy and love that it expresses. It was important I sang from that place and not from a place of despair. I never felt alone when I sang this song. I felt reunited. I hope you hear that in my voice.

"You Can Ukulele With Me"
This song was a nightmare to learn and a dream to perform. (I would say the exact same thing about my song from Tootsie. I guess I have a type after all.) This song makes me giggle and bounce. Two of my favorite things. Scott Wasserman’s arrangement is so great. He wanted it to feel like an Andrews Sisters number at a luau. I’d say this was achieved.

"Waiting for the Light"
It’s amazing to me that Holly wrote this song before the global pandemic began, because it feels like an anthem for this moment. Holly writes, “I wanted to call this ‘The Gathering’ but it sounded too much like a horror film. That’s what it’s about for me—the idea that in the same way my genetic material is a mashup of all of my biological ancestors, who I am as a human being has been shaped by the thousands of people who I’ve interacted with, the countless experiences (both trivial and profound) I’ve had. But there’s still the ultimate responsibility that rests with each of us—to make the choice who we are and how we behave.” During the first few months of lockdown I would think of this song as I threw the top part of my body out my window with pots and pans and wooden spoons, cheering and screaming my head off with all my neighbors at 7 PM. “We stand together / I stand alone / waiting for the light to shine”

The last six months have been intense and scary and weird and emotional, but also precious. I’ve loved my loved ones harder, I’ve opened my eyes to the fractures in our society and really tried to listen and support, and I have dug harder into my desire to create and found the voice I want to make louder. I’m waiting for the light to shine, but I’m not waiting for life to start back up again. So much growth has happened in the pause that I feel like we can’t call it a pause any more. We’re still moving! Holly and I thank you for taking the time to read about our little EP, and we wish you all la la la la la love!

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