BWW Interview: Jennifer Blake Chats MCCREADY THE MUSICAL, Opening in Silverlake 5/8

BWW Interview: Jennifer Blake Chats MCCREADY THE MUSICAL, Opening in Silverlake 5/8

The life of Mindy McCready was short, but it was a memorable one. A new theatrical production entitled MCCREADY THE MUSICAL is set to open in Silverlake this Friday that will bring her tragic story to the stage.

Actress Jennifer Blake takes on the role of Mindy McCready. She has previously performed in acclaimed LA Theatre productions [title of show], PRAIRIE-OKE and SIDE BY SIDE BY SONDHEIM and she is looking forward to presenting her newest role to the LA Theatre crowd. She has also previously been such films as BEHAVING BADLY, THE STEPFORD WIVES and ZOOLANDER.

I had the pleasure of speaking with the star of the new musical. The concept for it came from the minds of Blake and Writer/Director Jon Bernstein. The two had collaborated on a project and decided they wanted to work together again. At a brainstorm session of coffee, they discussed how she had been told she looked a bit like Mindy McCready. The wheels started rolling and the roots were planted. Jennifer had been a fan of country music all of her life. Growing up in Montgomery, Alabama it was pretty much unavoidable. She was a fan of old school country such as Hank Williams and had of course, heard Mindy's big hit "10,000 Angels," but wouldn't consider herself a fan at that point. In the last 15 years, she has become a bigger fan of more contemporary country music. As Bernstein and Blake began digging into the life of Mindy McCready, the musical unfolded. Her life already seemed like a theatrical story, so they began the process of bringing it to life. Mindy's music is performed in the stage version, but in new and interesting arrangements. There are also some original pieces incorporated as well. Jennifer couldn't help but gush about her castmates as some of the most talented people she has ever met.

For those who aren't familiar with her story, Mindy McCready had her first hit, "10,000 Angels" when she was just 18 years old. She was thrust into the Country scene in Nashville and became one of its biggest stars. She succumbed to many relationships and problems with drugs and alcohol leading to a suicide attempt in 2008. More problems followed in her personal life and she eventually died in 2013 of an apparent gunshot wound after a long bout with depression. I am summing this up rather quickly and glossing over a good portion of her story, but the musical goes into her life in great detail and shows the human side of Mindy and her personal struggles.

Given that depression fueled suicide is all over the headlines these days with the recent deaths of Robin Williams and EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND star, Sawyer Sweeten, Mindy's story is, unfortunately, very topical. In getting into her character and getting to "know" Mindy, Ms. Blake has become quite protective of her. She has learned that it is just impossible to judge people as you can never know exactly what someone is going through emotionally, chemically and/or mentally. The musical is an emotional journey every night for Blake and her cast and bandmates, but she does truly feel that Mindy, herself, would approve. She focuses on her raw ambition and how powerful a motivational factor that can be in someone's life. However, despite the serious subject matter and tragic end, it is important for Blake and the entire cast that this is a celebration of her life and talent. It is meant to be uplifting without trivializing the seriousness of the disease. They are so passionate about awareness that they will donate 50% of the proceeds from one performance to a local suicide prevention organization.

The theatre itself will be all about atmosphere. In Blake's words, "When you walk in, you're in it and I personally love that feeling when I walk into a theatre." The musical will feature past loves in Mindy's life such as Baseball Great, Roger Clemens and Actor, Dean Cain. Even though it is a tribute to Mindy, it is also very honest. There is not attempt to show her as a saint, but just a very talented, yet haunted individual.

After LA, Blake has visions of the musical touring. primarily in the Southeast as that tends to be where Mindy's biggest fan base resides. However, they have received plenty of interest from all over the U.S. as well as a the UK, which apparently has a big McCready following. Even though it is a story about a country star, it is also a story about a person wrestling with demons and just trying her best and we can all relate to that on some level.

McCready the Musical runs May 8 - June 12, Friday nights at 9:00pm at Spirit Studio in Silverlake. The show runs 70 minutes with no intermission. The show also features Brady Harris, Michael Ursu, Clinton Pickens and Jim Bianco.

Spirit Studio is at 3711 Evans Street West, Los Angeles, CA 90027. It is above Barbarella Restaurant, one block south of Griffith Park Blvd. Valet parking is available at Barbarella. Tickets are available at www.mccreadythemusical.com and/or www.brownpapertickets.com.

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From This Author Jennifer McHugh

TV and Film Freelancer, Jennifer, received a BFA in Musical Theatre from Kutztown State University in Pennsylvania. Jennifer works for a Cosmetics Company in Los (read more...)

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