BWW Interview: Terri Weiss Presents MONKEY MIND As Part of Hollywood Fringe Festival
Monkey Mind is a family rock musical about a bright, precocious teen driven to thoughts of suicide because of an over active mind. This lesson of life becomes an uplifting and fun experience. Monkey Mind opens June 8th for the Hollywood Fringe Festival at The McCadden Place Theatre at 1157 N. McCadden Place in Hollywood. Writer Terri Weiss sat down recently to discuss the show.
Terri's career spans decades from appearing on Broadway in FADE OUT FADE IN with Carol Burnett to understudying Betsy Palmer in SOUTH PACIFIC at Carnegie's Judsen Hall, to film where she worked with luminaries such as Jack Benny, Toni Randall and Jane Fonda. She studied voice with all the majors of her day and studied dance with Martha Graham and Matt Mattox. Terri also sang, on the road, for 7 years working at times with the famous Lionel Hampton orchestra.
Tell our readers about yourself.
Well, I'm 33 years sober and I've taught myself to live in the now, to control my mind. I am a singing teacher, a former singer/actress/dancer with Broadway, Off broadway and singing on the road experience. I thought that it was just alcoholics who had crazy out of control minds but I have found that too many of my students have the same problem with their minds always going into the dark spots of future and past. I have taught quite a few to "stay in the now' as I taught myself.
So this is the basis of your play, correct?
Yes. This is a story, based on truth, about a teen girl whose lost her mother and her father's having financial problems. She wants to win a singing contest and give the money to her father to get him out of his depression. She goes to a singing teacher who tells her she has a monkey mind. And the girl doesn't want to hear it, but, near suicide she finally learns that staying in the now can save her life.
How long did it take you to write this?
I worked on it for ten years. We had a very successful workshop of it at New Musical Inc but I was never truly happy with the music and didn't really get along too well with my composer. After letting it sit for about 4 years, I' d had a bad accident, got hit by a truck j-walking. I decided I had to get it done the way I wanted it done so I asked the composer if I could pay to have an arranger come in and make it more contemporary. He said absolutely not. If I got a producer who wanted changes, then he'd let me change. Well that was the last straw for me; I hired a lawyer to send him a very legal letter saying he was off the project.
I like your strength and determination.
I am one who thanks God all day a lot for the blessings in my life, but hardly ever get on my knees, I got on my knees and prayed for God to let me find the right composer. I rent rooms in my home and have never had to advertise, usually students or friends of friends rent from me but this time I had to advertise. A young man shows up from Peru and rents a room. He tell me he's a composer but I think little about it figuring he wants to be a rock and roll star like so many boys I teach. A couple of weeks later, we're in the kitchen and I ask him what kind of stuff he writes. He's done movies in Peru and background to a play. I listen and am impressed. I ask if he's ever written to lyrics. NO. Is he willing to try. Yes.
And he became your composer!?
Yes, Gerardo Herrera. He's 26 years old, he studied to be a priest, and I love him.
So, what happened next?
Then I decided to do the Fringe and everything has fallen into line so spectacularly that I feel like I'm in the palm of God's hand. And I'm NOT religious!. The first theatre I looked at I loved. Asked the guy if he knew a director, he suggested John Coppola, who read my script and loved it. We had audtions and out of 33 people John picked two girls to star that are past students which thrilled me no end.
What is most exciting for you?
The most amazing thing about the whole thing is that, for years, everybody around me rolled their eyes at my references to spirits and my terms of spirituality. Now, not only does the director believe as I do, so do most of the cast and the energy in the rehearsals is electric!
What really stands out in the show?
Lacy's Monkey Mind is played by characters who sing and dance around her on stage. Because the interaction of the Monkeys with Lacy is funny, this show never gets too serious except for the climax. The lyrics are filled with a great sense of humor!
Monkey Mind is written by Terri Weiss, Directed and Choreograph by John Coppola, Music Director: Ron Burnett, Costumes: Rob Saduski, Composer: Gerardo E. Herrera Benavides, Lyrics: Bill Berry.
Cast: Darcy Rose Byrnes, Cameron Gilliam, Karla Kelly, Corey Page, JD Mata, Fernando Christopher, and Tori Cott
PERFORMANCES: 90 minutes
Saturday June 8 2019, 5:00 PM
Friday June 14 2019, 5:00 PM
Sunday June 16 2019, 7:00 PM
Saturday June 22 2019, 8:00 PM
Sunday June 23 2019, 11:00 AM
Saturday June 29 2019, 6:30 PM
Sunday June 30 2019, 1:00 PM
WHERE: McCadden Place Theatre - 1157 N McCadden Pl., Los Angeles, CA 90038
TICKETS: $10.00 - https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/4954
Admission: All ages, however, parents who have strict rules about any profanity or the subject of suicide should not bring their children.
my webpage http://terriweiss.com,