THE BULLY PROBLEM Comes To Hollywood Fringe

The award-winning musical The Bully Problem is coming to Hollywood Fringe, playing in June at The Broadwater - Main Stage.

In The Bully Problem, 14-year-old whiz kid Kevin Dijkstra yearns to escape his bully-infested school for an elite tech academy. But when he inherits a (mostly) functional android bodyguard, he's able to turn the tables on the local bully population! Sweet, poignant, and action-packed, The Bully Problem is an all-ages musical about bullying, standing up for yourself...and robots.

The show has already earned accolades. Out of hundreds of submissions to theatre legend Stephen Schwartz' Musical Theatre Workshop, writer, composer and Fringe veteran Michael Gordon Shapiro was honored to have his newest work as one of two selected for the 2018 Los Angeles program. Not long after, he was awarded first prize in New Musical Inc.'s 2018 Search for New Musicals. From there, Shapiro wanted the next stop to be a production at Fringe.

"Growing up, I was one of the smart kids who were too easily pushed around," Shapiro said. "Years later this led me to the idea of a musical about outsmarting the bad guys through technology. Bullying being such a grim and ever-present topic, I felt that a fun adventure musical set in a larger-than-life universe was a great medium for making this kind of story accessible and emotionally resonant. Also, I like robots."

Shapiro, who also composes scores for film, television, video games and the concert hall, is no stranger to Hollywood Fringe. He wrote the music and lyrics for Fringe favorite Super Sidekick: The Musical (which also went to FringeNYC), and he's the writer and composer of A Feast of Snacks, which was nominated for Best Musical at the 2016 Hollywood Fringe. Also in the works for Shapiro is Gideon and The Blundersnorp, a musical fantasy fable.

The Bully Problem is also fortunate to be helmed by Fringe award-winner Joanna Syiek (The Pokemusical, Giraffenstein, Merely Players), and is being produced in conjunction with New Musicals Inc., which helped Shapiro develop the show.

Despite the futuristic subject matter and contemporary musical style, Shapiro said The Bully Problem is a throwback in many ways in that it is character and plot-driven and follows a very traditional musical theater story arc. With an age range of eight and up, it's suitable for kids and grownups alike.

"Above all, I hope audiences experience laughter, a sense of uplift and some melodies that linger in their heads when they see this show," he said. "And for my fellow 'smart kids' out there (young and grownup) perhaps a sense of self-recognition amongst the eccentric characters in the story."

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