BWW Interview: Creative Team Speaks on IT HAPPENED IN KEY WEST at the Fulton

BWW Interview: Creative Team Speaks on IT HAPPENED IN KEY WEST at the Fulton

IT HAPPENED IN KEY WEST is a developing musical being workshopped this weekend at the Fulton Theatre in Lancaster. Directed by the Fulton's artistic director, Marc Robin, the musical was conceived and the book written by performer and producer Jeremiah James, composer/lyricist Jill Santoriello, and book and lyrics writer Jason Huza.

We asked about the process of taking a new musical through workshops. James and Santoriello explain that there's a regular process of workshopping a musical (presenting bare bones performances to give an audience the sense of the show, without full production behind it) for industry insiders to get production and performance feedback as well as to look for potential investors who can fund the show to get it up and running.

IT HAPPENED IN KEY WEST isn't precisely a brand new baby - musical theatre takes time, and it's been incubating for seven years. Now that it's had the insider workshops, they wanted to bring it to a public workshop. BWW Interview: Creative Team Speaks on IT HAPPENED IN KEY WEST at the FultonJames explains, "From a producing standpoint, theatre people are all insiders. We wanted to hear what real ticket buyers would think. Industry people have their place, but we needed to hear what everyday ticket buyers, people who visit New York and come to see Broadway shows, would think."

What the Fulton audience thought was clear - not only was there a standing ovation, but during the talkback session after the show, the lead male received a humorous proposal or two from the impact he'd made as the romantic lead in the show's workshop.

Santoriello added that both industry audiences and public audiences for workshops are tough, but in very different ways. Theatre insiders worry about technical matters for shows in development, while public workshop audiences are evaluating shows by the thought that when they spend their money on musical theatre, they expect to be moved.

The creative team has been pleased with the audience reception at the Fulton, and would like to see the show, when fully developed, be co-produced by the Fulton and another major theatre. A tour would be ideal, they believe, because this is a "chamber musical" with a small cast and simple sets and props; it's less expensive to take on tour than a larger show with huge casts and sets. It travels easily and fits into small theatres well. Their current options, which might include a tour first, involve opening a co-production in New York, opening a co-production in London, or possibly opening in Australia, where musical theatre is wildly popular.

The show, the main subject of which is currently explicitly not publicized, is set in Key West and is based on true events that helped make Key West a popular travel destination. It's a romantic comedy of sorts, with light, deftly worded songs and some surprisingly dark themes, from which unavoidable humor nonetheless springs. Although the audience is surprised to see what happens, the creatives find that the response is extremely and enthusiastically positive.

The production process of the show can be followed on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @keywestmusical.

A final performance of the current workshop is planned for Sunday, August 27 at the Fulton Theatre in Lancaster.

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From This Author Marakay Rogers

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