Broadway veteran and award-winning recording artist Matt Zarley will premiere his spectacular new musical web series 11 O’Clock Number tonight, March 27, at 11 PM ET on YouTube. The series features a dozen tunes by Broadway composers all originally sung by women.
Over the course of 12 episodes, Zarley weaves those songs into the journey of a heartbroken singer who harnesses the power of musicals to help him cope with the pandemic lockdown. Each song – some shared as flashbacks, some as spectacularly imagined concert performances – becomes its own personal catharsis for our hero, Zack (played by Zarley).
11 O’Clock Number is directed, produced, and edited by Zarley and co-directed by Reed Stillwell with a story by Zarley and Stilwell. Jesse Aragon served as director of photography, with the music produced by Zarley and Andy Zulla. Sabrina Feldman handled wardrobe stylist duties.
The series also includes contributions by Jason Graae, Haviland Stillwell, Ty Taylor, Marty Thomas, Barbara Deutsch, Kathy Deitch, James Tabeek, and Julie Garnye.
Front and center, though, are Zarley’s rich, muscular vocals. The Broadway veteran – who can croon a quiet heartbreak or throw down rich, full-throated showstoppers with equal ease – is in peak vocal form.
The intricate, eye-popping, musically-informed video editing provides texture and nuance almost becoming its own character in the storytelling. And big props to producer Andy Zulla for his gorgeous Broadway-worthy arrangements which serve up the perfect balance of contemporary intimacy and classic music theater grandeur.
I really enjoyed the full series because…who doesn’t love some great music theater songs?
A few favorite episodes:
• Episode 4’s take on “I’m Not That Girl” is something many gay men may relate to
• The casting directors in episodes 5 & 6 bring a lot of lighthearted humor
• Episode 9’s use of “The Human Heart” in a Christmas setting is definitely heartfelt
• And if you love boy bands, you won’t want to miss episode 10’s “Anything But Lonely.”
Zarley made his professional theatrical debut at 17 in the national tour of Cats and his Broadway debut at 19 in A Chorus Line. Additional Broadway credits include The Who’s Tommy, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Chicago.
A four-time Billboard charting recording artist and two-time OutMusic Award winner, his albums include Debut, Here I Am, and Change Begins With Me.
Related: Matt Zarley Pulls You Into His ‘Gravity’
Instinct Magazine got a chance to preview the full series and chat with the oh-so-talented Mr. Matt Zarley about the project and its genesis.
Instinct Magazine: What was the inspiration behind “11 O’Clock Number?”
Matt Zarley: It was two months into the pandemic when I decided I wanted to throw some vocals down on a couple of songs that I always secretly wanted to sing. Those songs just happened to be female theater covers.
As time progressed, I recorded a few more, and one afternoon I played a few for a friend of mine who is a multi-Emmy nominated television choreographer. He said to me, “Matt, you need to do something special with these songs – you have something really exceptional here.” So, he put the bug in my ear to craft a narrative around the songs.
IM: On top of helping craft the arrangements, recording the songs, and acting in the video clips – you edited this yourself?
MZ: I started editing my own YouTube music videos about five years ago when I realized just how much the editor contributes to a project. Once I grasped that, I thought it would be a good idea for me to learn how to do it, and I absolutely love it. It’s a very musical and creative outlet.
IM: What was the most fun episode or part of the project to work on?
MZ: Honestly, each episode holds its own unique and special place to me. I loved working on “With You” because I got to work with Barbara Deutsch, who I adore. We had so much fun shooting.
Collaborating with Marty Thomas, who has been a friend for about 20 years, was an especially good time. Even though we weren’t actually in the studio together, I had a blast doing our duet (“Take Me or Leave Me”) together.
And “Anything But Lonely” because I got to be really creative editing all of the multiple images of me singing background. I edited all of the background projections before we shot of my performance footage. The stage had a LED wall that ran the entire width of the stage, which was such a gift. So I edited those videos prior to shooting so it would be timed to the music perfectly.
IM: You’re releasing two episodes at a time over six weeks. Why the extended rollout versus dropping all episodes at one time?
MZ: The project was always intended to be consumed in small bites, it was never intended to be a binge type show. Personally, I think that you get more out of the episodes when you consume them 1, 2, or 3 at a time. And not 12 back to back.
If I was going to do a film version of this I would have crafted it differently and dug deeper into a couple of the relationships in the storylines, but that was never the intention. It was just meant to be these little video journal entries, and a snapshot of the time that we were all locked in our homes.
The first two episodes of 11 O’Clock Number will debut tonight, March 27, at 11 PM ET/8 PM PT. Two new episodes will be released on the next 5 consecutive Monday evenings. All episodes will be available on YouTube after their release. The soundtrack for 11 O’Clock Number is available now on all major music platforms including Amazon, iTunes and Spotify.
Full track listing for 11 O’Clock Number:
• “Never Enough” (The Greatest Showman) Benj Pasek, Justin Paul
• “Still Hurting” (The Last Five Years) Jason Robert Brown
• “With You” (Ghost: The Musical) Dave Stewart, Glen Ballard, Bruce Joel Rubin
• “I’m Not That Girl” (Wicked) Stephen Schwartz
• “I’d Give My Life For You” (Miss Saigon) Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil, Richard Maltby Jr.
• “I Still Believe” (Miss Saigon) Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil, Richard Maltby Jr.
• “Take Me or Leave Me” (RENT) Jonathan Larson
• “He Used To Be Mine” (Waitress) Sara Bareilles
• “The Human Heart” (Once On This Island) Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty
• “Anything But Lonely” (Aspects of Love) Andrew Lloyd Webber, Don Black, Charles Hart
• “I’m Here” (The Color Purple) Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, Stephen Bray
• “What I Did for Love” (A Chorus Line) Marvin Hamlisch, Edward Kleban
2 thoughts on “Matt Zarley Debuts New Musical Web Series “11 O’Clock Number””
I think he was one of the first openly gay men to be named People magazine’s Top 50 bachelors.
You’re right! In 2002, he was the very first out gay man to be one of People’s “Hottest Bachelors.”