Wednesday, July 31, 2013

New Works In Progress: NEXT THING YOU KNOW

An interview with John Simpkins, Artistic Director, of TriArts Sharon Playhouse as they prepare to produce Next Thing You Know, by Fest Alumni Joshua Salzman and Ryan Cunningham (both, Fest '05-I Love You Because). Next Thing You Know was developed at CAP21 thanks to a Project Development Grant from our National Fund for New Musicals.
Next Thing You Know is the story of fourNew Yorkers as they laugh, love and drink their way through the big questions that face all young dreamers who wake up in the city that never sleeps. Does marrying a really nice guy mean you're settling down or just settling? Does taking a nine-to-five equal giving up or growing up? Does a decade in the city break you down or break you in?

Sharon Playhouse has recently embarked on presenting new musicals. Why do you think it is important for your theatre to present pre-existing shows alongside new musicals during your summer season? 
Part of our mission at the Sharon Playhouse is to celebrate and nurture emerging as well as established artists. We are excited to add writers and new musicals to this focus. It is our hope that we can begin commissioning new works in addition to presenting new musicals that have already been in development and might be looking for further development and/or productions.

You have a long history with Next Thing You Know starting with directing the first workshop of it back in 2007. How has the show changed since that first presentation at NYU Steinhardt? 
We did the first workshop presentation of the show in October 2007, with some of my students at NYU Steinhardt. At the time, it was a collection of songs without a specific book—all centered around the time in one's life where the dreams and plans you make as a young 20-something aren't necessarily turning out the way you thought. The show always felt like it was wanting a stronger and more specific structure to these songs that seemed to really speak to people. Ryan and Josh went back and began to add a book to surround the songs. All three of us were initially suspicious of this exercise—thinking it might feel ultimately