Paolo Tatafiore and I, John Davis, make up the writing team for “Mah Jongg Mania: a Musical Comedy”. Paolo is the composer and I’m the lyricist. (See our backgrounds below.) We have been working together since August on this satire about our feisty American Mah Jongg community. Our show follows the adventures of Myra and Miriam, two cousins, as they struggle to lift a spell that has been cast on their late grandmother’s antique mah jongg set by a deranged collector.
We have discovered several roadblocks.
We are preparing to pitch to producers and need to create two or three performance pieces of numbers from the show. This requires hiring musicians and performers, which, in turn, requires money.
We regularly encounter internet-related expenses, fees for technology assistance, registration and membership in the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, (ASCAP) along with fees for copyrighting songs and other expenses we have yet to discover.
Our dream is a long-running Broadway smash hit, and you can help make that happen. Just imagine opening night: the house lights go down, the curtain rises, and mah jongg takes center stage! And it’s about time!
Thanks for your support!
John Davis with Paolo Tatafiore
About John Davis
Over the past six years I have played in thousands of games, directed mah jongg tournaments, created Mahj-Art pieces, designed mah jongg tiles, administered several Facebook groups, published an online magazine, MJ DIVA Magazine, with an international audience, did a podcast interview on my work, and created mah jongg games used by educators. I own several online stores using my Mahj-art that produce jewelry, home décor items, fabrics, fashions, shoes, and notecards, among other things. I have also interviewed writers, collectors, artists, photographers, and players. It has been a great joy to be able to bring to life this vibrant mah jongg community.
About Paolo Tatafiore
Paolo Tatafiore is a native of Naples, Italy, and comes from a family of composers, pianists, conductors and painters. He has concertized to considerable acclaim in Germany and the United States, as well as throughout his native Italy. His musical training began at age seven, and he studied piano with Claudio Graziano, organ and composition with Aladino Di Martino, Bruno Mazzotta, and Vincenzo De Gregorio at the Conservatories of Naples, Avellino, and Salerno, while concomitantly studying Ancient Literatures and Archeology at the Federico II University of Naples. He was subsequently selected for masterclasses with such eminent pianists as Carlo Bruno and Maria Tipo, followed by solo and chamber music concerts and concerto engagements in Italy, including performances at the RAI (Italian Radio and Television) Piano Festival.
In the Italian Middle Schools and the Conservatory of Avellino he also became a passionate and devoted piano teacher; he has continued his pedagogical interest to this day, with some of his students having become internationally recognized performers.
After moving to the United States in 2000 he regularly appeared as soloist and chamber musician in major venues, working in close contact with the League of American Orchestras while continuing touring as a soloist in Europe. In 2009 he moved to Germany, where he became involved in multimedia projects with renowned actors Mario Adorf and Juergen Wegscheider, among others. In 2011, on the occasion of Franz Liszt’s 200th birthday he and Wegscheider toured with “Liszt in Italien”, a project incorporating texts as well as letters between Liszt and Marie D’Agoult, with music and video projection.
Among his recordings is a live performance of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 at the Herkulessaal der Residenz in Munich, Germany, with outstanding critical notices in major newspapers as well as the leading German magazine, “Das Orchester”.
Mr. Tatafiore moved back to the U.S. in 2016 and has lived in Los Angeles for five years, performing piano recitals in California and concerts with American orchestras. As a composer he has recently published a group of piano pieces and a set of Variations for Viola and Orchestra, a tribute to J.S.Bach, composed according to strict counterpoint rules set forth by Giancarlo Bizzi (one of his former mentors in Italy). These compositions are available on Spotify, iTunes, Google Play and all the major sale and streaming platforms around the world. He is also active as a producer of music for film and TV.
He currently lives in Miami Beach, FL and has switched his main focus to music writing following a recent Parkinson’s diagnosis that has made impossible for him to continue his activity as a concert pianist. He is currently writing a musical in collaboration with writer John W. Davis and producing some experimental electronic tracks.
SOME BACKGROUND ON AMERICAN MAH JONGG
American Mah Jongg has grown tremendously over the past ten years.
Did you know that
• over a million women (and a few men) play American Mah Jongg daily in the US?
• one mah jongg Facebook group has over 30,000 members?
• the National Mah Jongg League has over 600,000 members?
• national Mah Jongg tournaments that draw between 120-500 players are held regularly in Vegas, Nashville, Orlando, New Orleans, Scottsdale, Tampa, Austin, and Atlantic City and a dozen other cities
• Mah Jongg cruises have been held for almost 30 years?
• online mah jongg gaming, education, and product sites have emerged into robust businesses over the past five years?
• Mah jongg is also seen on television shows such as Claws, Hacks, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
• Celebrities Julia Roberts and Sarah Jessica Parker play mah jongg regularly?
• Books on how to play the game, its history, and game strategies are published regularly along with fictional romance and murder mysteries that feature mah jongg
American-style Mah Jongg is played by hundreds of thousands of women (and a few men) every day in the U.S. Similar to the game of Rummy where groups of numbers are collected, the game is a variant of the Chinese game of mahjong. American mah jongg is played with four players using mah jongg tiles. The goal of the game is to be the first, by picking and discarding, to match one's tiles to a specific hand from the annually distributed scorecard published by the National Mah Jongg League.
First introduced in America by the businessman Joseph Babcock in the 1920’s, it became a national rage and took hold in many Jewish communities in New York and Los Angeles. In the 1950s, the game was frequently played by Jewish women vacationing in the Catskill resorts. It has surged in popularity in recent years through social media that allows players, groups, and businesses to stage games, ask questions, discuss issues, and sell products and services.
Mah Jongg tournaments are common fundraisers for synagogues and charitable groups. Several mah jongg companies hold tournaments in destination cities such as Las Vegas, Scottsdale , Arizona, Sarasota, Florida, and Austin, Texas. Mah Jongg cruises have also been a regular event for close to 30 years.
Online mah jongg game sites (not the tile matching games) have blossomed over the past two years with the suspension of in-person games. These sites allow players to create groups; one has video that allows players to see and hear one another. Many of these online game sites host tournaments as fundraisers for various groups.
American Mah Jongg is played in homes, senior centers, restaurants, hotels, on trains, in shopping malls, on beaches, in swimming pools and mountain cabins, and on cruise ships.
A significant number of mah jongg educators teach online or hold classes at civic centers or in private homes. Most commonly, the game is learned at home with the mother teaching the daughter.
While mah jongg is commonly thought of as the forte of older Jewish women, the game has become popular with millennials who have joined the mah jongg community, some even creating newer versions of the tiles.
Collecting, restoring and completing mah jongg sets with missing tiles is a significant part of the businesses that have also grown up to support the game. Vintage sets are regularly displayed on Facebook and sold through social media. Tile sets worth thousands of dollars often appear on the market.
Along with major businesses that sell mah jongg tiles and accessories, there is an active market of handcrafted items such as bags, fashions, jewelry, and art work.
Newsletters promoting tournaments, products and events are sent monthly to players who are members of Facebook mah jongg groups.
One online publication, MJ DIVA Magazine, created and edited by myself and my wife is sent to over 5,000 subscribers. It serves as a chronicle of the mah jongg community and supports entrepreneurs, authors, and fundraising groups.
Books on how to play, the history of the game, and fiction using mah jongg as the setting for romance and murder mysteries regularly appear.
One influential author hosts weekly podcasts heard by thousands worldwide; she interviews leaders and innovators in the game and players who tell the stories of how they learned and now love the game.
Mah jongg is also seen on television shows such as Claws, Hacks, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and is played by celebrities such as Julia Roberts and Sarah Jessica Parker.
Worldwide, various versions of mah jong are played by millions, but this musical is about American Mah Jongg.