Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Festival Show Update: THE TROUBLE WITH DOUG

An interview with the writers of The Trouble with Doug, Daniel Maté and Will Aronson, about the developments on their 2010 Festival show as it prepares for a production at NAMT member theatre Arts Garage down in Florida this spring.  

A contemporary re-imagining of Kafka’s "Metamorphosis," The Trouble With Doug is a hilarious and moving new musical about a healthy young man who transforms inexplicably into a giant talking slug. Thrust together awkwardly under the same roof, Doug, his family, and his fiancée all struggle to understand and respond to this strangest of crises. 

Last time we checked in with you, Doug was heading to Palo Alto, CA for TheatreWorks' festival.  How was that process for you and the show? 
We had a great time in Palo Alto. TheatreWorks provides a unique workshopping opportunity – a chance to perform the show in front of an audience, rewrite, re-tech, perform again, and then repeat that process three times. You can really take the show into the laboratory and experiment. (There’s really no better way to see what works and what doesn't than to watch the show in front of actual people a few times!)

What changes did you make to the show while in California? 
After watching the show, we felt that our titular character was under-developed — so we added several new musical moments for Doug throughout the first act to clarify his arc and round him out a bit more. We also tried out a number of new scenes for Doug’s family, and also ended up with a slightly gentler ending.

You are currently rewriting the show for a production down at Arts Garage in Florida.  What are your goals with this rewrite?   

New Work in Progress: JUDGE JACKIE JUSTICE

NAMT member theatre Pittsburgh CLO recently opened the world premiere of Judge Jackie Justice, a new musical by Michael Kooman and Chris Dimond (both, NAMT Fest '11-Dani Girl). The show runs through April 27 at their cabaret space. We took a moment to chat with Pittsburgh CLO's Executive Producer Van Kaplan, who also directed the show and came up with its concept, about bringing some Justice to Pittsburgh.

You've been summoned for a brand new musical comedy: it's CourtTV meets Springer! The musical courtroom of Judge Jackie Justice is now in session at the CLO Cabaret. Behold "real" cases involving zombies, spaceships, furries and more! TV's hottest Judge relishes in ruling on the personal affairs of people just like you, but what happens when the tables are turned? You won't "object" to this brand new musical comedy! 
Judge Jackie Justice (JJJ) is a commission from Pittsburgh CLO. What was the motivation behind commissioning a show for your cabaret space? 
Creating new works is part of the mission of the CLO and we are always looking for fresh material, especially for the Cabaret. Finding new and exciting small-scale musicals for our year-round programming has been a challenge for us.
You had the original idea for JJJ. What was the inspiration for a musical about TV court shows?
After I saw Jerry Springer the Opera (which I thought was a hoot) in London I thought of creating a show along the same vein but also with some audience participation. The super-sized personalities and live and reactive audiences of Court TV shows seemed like good material to mine for musical comedy. 
Why did you go with the team of Kooman and Dimond to create the show and what has that process been like? 
I saw a reading of Dani Girl at the NAMT Festival and then had an opportunity to listen to Howard Barnes and was sold. They are imaginative writers and because I wanted humor that skewed a little younger for my show, they seemed right for the job. The process of creating the show was like others I have been a part of, highs and lows, agreements and disagreements, and striving to reach the best place possible. A commissioned work poses unique challenges because it is an inherently collaborative writing process. Because Judge Jackie was my idea, I knew what I wanted and was specific with the writers.

Why do think it is important for your theatre to create new musicals for your audience?