The Musical of Musicals: The Musical. If the title didn’t already clue you in to the premise of the show, let me give you a brief synopsis. It’s a musical about musicals!
The plot is simple. June can’t pay her rent. Jitter, the villanous landlord, says she must pay her rent. Abby offers helpful advice, and it’s up to Willy/Billy to sweep June off her feet, pay the rent, and save the day. Four actors present this classic melodrama in five very different ways – each parodying a different famous composer or composer/lyricist team. The Musical of Musical pokes a bit of fun at theatre greats Rodgers & Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Kander & Ebb.
Sound interesting? I sat down with Artistic Director Rosanne DellAversano to find out more about Bootless’ 2013/2014 season opener.
J: What drew you to The Musical of Musicals? Why did you decide to make it a part of Bootless’ 2013/2014 season?
R: In my opinion, it’s sheer brilliance. The way Rockwell and Bogart took the best bits of musical theater over the years and wove them together using the classic vaudeville melodrama, “You must pay the rent,” is just hilarious. It’s not over thought. It’s not entirely complicated. But yet, it so creatively ingenious.
J: It’s definitely a unique work! That being said, how does this show reflect the mission and style of Bootless?
R: As far as I know, Bootless is the first group in Delaware to do the show, and that’s what Bootless does – we do things first. Cast in the show are Elizabeth Holmes (June) and Michael Gamache (Jitter). Both debuted with Bootless last season in Jerry Springer, The Opera. They are wonderfully talented emerging artists. Mike recently completed a summer contract with Virginia Shakespeare Festival. Liz is a trained opera singer who is making the crossover to musical theater. Other companies may not consider either of them for roles in Musical but Bootless does just that – place actors in roles they wouldn’t necessarily be cast in – in order to give that actor the opportunity to work out and perform the role and broaden their resumes. When I cast a show, I like to see actors who have a wide range and aren’t afraid to take a risk to try something different or new. Because taking a risk is scary, Bootless makes sure its creative environment is safe, non-judgmental and nurturing.
J: Sounds like working on the show is a wonderful experience for the actors. Why will audiences like this show?
R: Because it is total escapism. There’s no lesson to be learned, no moral theme, no social statement – just plain old fashion fun. And, even though Bootless is an adult contemporary theater company, The Musical of Musicals is for all ages. There’s no language, no nudity, no gore (we save that for summer). If you’re a musical theater nerd, then it’s a double bonus – great theater that makes fun of great theater. There are a few inside jokes that only musical theater buffs will get. It’s like seeing Star Trek for the first time with a Trekkie – you don’t totally get everything but that doesn’t stop you from really enjoying it.
J: What’s been the most rewarding or fun part of the process so far? Was Musical a challenge in any way?
R: Every show is a challenge and, to me, that’s the fun. But, with this show, the real fun is that we don’t have a stage director. We are working the show in ensemble fashion – all four performers have a say in what happens and the blocking is collaboratively developed. Experiencing amazing shared creativity is totally energizing. To be in a show that is collectively devised keeps you on your toes because you can’t just sit back and let the director tell you what to or how to do it. Everyone is a part of the process and is comfortable bringing ideas to the table. Some of best blocking happens when we’re a bit silly and just blurt ideas out. With this process, the best sentences start with, “Wouldn’t it be neat if we did ________.” I hear that and usually start to giggle with anticipation.
J: So…you’re the artistic director, but you’re also playing a role in this show. Talk to me about your character. Have you done anything special to prepare?
R: I play the role of Abby, the ever so helpful friend and confidant to June. Abby’s job is to show up when June is in need of advice. And, boy do I give her some great advice. Abby’s advice is channeled through several musical theater characters, such as Mother Abbess, Mame and my favorite, Fraulein Kost, who delivers advice through a song written in bass clef. The only thing special I had to do to prepare for the role was learn how to sing with my larynx outside of my throat.
J: Yikes, that definitely sounds like a challenge! What’s your favorite moment in the show?
R: When June isn’t part of the chorus and I get to sing soprano.
J: What exciting things does Bootless have in store for audiences throughout the 2013-2014 season?
R: Bootless is keeping the laughs coming. We’re all giddy about Not the Messiah, He’s A Very Naughty Boy. Who would have thought there was a musical work written by Eric Idle and John DuPrez based on the Monty Python movie, The Life of Brian? With songs like, “I Want to be a Girl”, “We Love Sheep”, “What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us”, and a Bob Dylan tribute, I just couldn’t pass up the chance to produce it. We’re taking it up a notch with Venus in Fur with two emerging New York actors cast in the roles of Thomas and Wanda for this Delaware premiere. In May, we present The 39 Steps. Sunday Times called it, “Rollicking Fun! Hugely Entertaining!” It’s what happens when you take four actors and have them portray over 150 characters (including inanimate objects) with the setting of a melodrama adapted from the 1915 novel by John Buchan, and a 1935 film by Alfred Hitchcock, and mix it with the comic stylings the likes of a Monty Python sketch and a dash of theater magic. The result is a wildly entertaining, fast-paced whodunit stage play. We know the show for our Summer Bloody Stage but we just can’t announce it. All we can say is that, in traditional Bootless fashion, it will be totally over the top funny, wet (both from our stage crew and from you laughing yourself silly) and bloody.
The Musical of Musicals: The Musical runs from October 4 – October 19 at the Black Box at Opera Delaware Studios (4 S. Poplar St., Wilmington). To buy your tickets now, click here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/450243