Friday, January 4, 2013
An interview with Steve Tomkins, Artistic Director of The Village Theatre in Issaquah, WA, about their upcoming production of Trails by Kristy Hall, Jordan Mann and Jeff Thomson.
After twelve years of silence, two childhood friends, Seth and Mike, find themselves face to face. Unexpectedly, Mike reminds Seth of an old promise to hike the Appalachian Trail together from beginning to end. Desperate to escape his stifling hometown and the recent death of his mother, Seth agrees to fulfill that promise. As the challenges of the trail become increasingly difficult, long-kept secrets begin to surface, and their friendship is put to the ultimate test.
How long has the Village been producing new musicals and what is the goal of the Village Originals program?
Village Theatre has been committed to the development of new musicals since its inception in 1979, and has produced and developed over 90 new musicals. Many of these have gone on to stages around the world, including the Tony Award-winning Next To Normal and Million Dollar Quartet.
How did Trails find its way out west to Issaquah?
Authors Christy Hall, Jordan Mann and Jeff Thomson were friends with an actor who had been in several shows on the Village Theatre stage. He recommended Trails to our Village Originals program. Upon receiving the script, both Robb Hunt and I were enchanted by this innovative new musical, and we started Trails in our new works program, culminating in the 2011 reading at our Festival of New Musicals.
Why was Trails the right show to take from the reading at your Festival last year to your main stage this year?
Our audience's response to Trails was immediate and overwhelming. We both felt that significant progress has been made in the development of the script to give it the production values needed for our Mainstage. This resulted in two more readings and endless discussions readying the script for our 2013 production.
Why is Trails a great show for your theatre and your audience?
Although Trails is set in the Appalachian Mountains on the East Coast, this remarkable new musical still captures the vitality and energy of the Pacific Northwest. Because of the unparalleled beauty of the Puget Sound, it is home to many hikers, trailblazers and adventurers. During the last few years, walking the Pacific Crest Trail (the West Coast version of the Appalachian Trail) has become a rite of passage for many young people. Trails encompasses the spirit and essence of our community.
Why should people fill up their hiking backpack and head west to Washington to see Trails this spring?
They have the opportunity to experience the first major production of an outstanding new musical, written by three talented new writers. Christy Hall, Jordan Mann and Jeff Thomson are at the beginning of what I feel will be a remarkable career.
For more info about Trails, please visit www.villagetheatre.org.
The Memory Show is a two-person comic tragedy about the troubled relationship of a woman who has just been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and her estranged daughter who moves back home to take care of her.
What has happened with The Memory Show (other than a shorter title) since the Festival in 2009?
We had a reading and then a production at Barrington Stage Company, which was an excellent experience. The Memory Show was also translated into Korean and produced in Korea this fall season. We got to go out there and see it, and it was awesome!
What was it like having the production up at Barrington and seeing the show on its feet?
We were so fortunate to have Bill [Finn] and Julie [Boyd] supporting us and believing in our work, and to have such an amazing director and MD and actors and designers. It was a really smooth process. We were so happy with how it turned out.
What has changed in the show since your NAMT Festival reading and what has changed since Barrington?We did some rewriting after NAMT, and then Joe [Calarco, director] and Vadim [Feichtner, music director] were really helpful in figuring out what to cut at Barrington. Basically, the piece has just gotten tighter.How did The Transport Group production come about?
Barrington produced a closed reading in New York, and Jack and Lori from Transport came to see it. We love them. We can't wait for the production.What is most exciting about finally having your show Off Broadway?
Because the piece is so personal, we are just really excited to share it. The piece takes place in Brooklyn and so the tone is very New Yorky. We feel like it's just coming home.
Why should people come check out The Memory Show?
It's a wonderful cast and creative team (truly!!!) and they have really brought our little two-person musical to life. We poured a lot of ourselves (and our parents, and our grandparents) into this piece, and we think it says something very truthful about parent-child relationships. We hope this is a show that is universal because it's so real to us.
For more information about The Memory Show, please visit www.transportgroup.org.