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Interview: Director and Co-Creator James Hindman of THE PIN-UP GIRLS at NJ Rep 6/9 to 7/10

Interview: Director and Co-Creator James Hindman of THE PIN-UP GIRLS

Interview: Director and Co-Creator James Hindman of THE PIN-UP GIRLS at NJ Rep 6/9 to 7/10

New Jersey Repertory Company (NJ Rep) will be presenting an original show this summer, The Pin Up Girls: A Musical Love Letter. Created by James Hindman and Jeffrey Lodin, the show is directed by James Hindman with musical direction by Jeffrey Lodin and choreography by Eugenio Contenti. The show stars Sara Glancy, Brittany Jeffery, AJ Melnick, and Pheonix Vaughn.

From The Andrews Sisters to Hip Hop and from World War One to Afghanistan, The Pin Up Girls sing a cavalcade of hits inspired by actual letters from our troops overseas. While singing at their local VFW hall, Leanne and her friends stumble upon a huge stash of letters that go back a hundred years. Inspired by what they find - funny, romantic, and heartbreaking, the ladies put on a show that celebrates the guys and gals who fight to defend our country.

Interview: Director and Co-Creator James Hindman of THE PIN-UP GIRLS at NJ Rep 6/9 to 7/10

Broadwayworld had the pleasure of interviewing the show's co-creator and director, James Hindman about the upcoming production at NJ Rep and the team he is working with to bring it to the Long Branch stage.

Hindman is an award-winning playwright and actor. As a writer, Off Broadway: Popcorn Falls (Dir. Christian Borle), Pete N' Keely (Outer Critics Award nomination, two Drama Desk nominations), The Audience (Drama Desk nomination), Being Audrey (NEA Grant recipient), The Gorges Motel (NYFringe Festival), What Doesn't Kill You, Multiple Family Dwelling (NJ Rep.). He is also co-creator of The Rat Pack Lounge, A Christmas Survival Guide, and The Bikinis (Goodspeed Musicals, Long Wharf Theatre). His short plays and monologues have been published in many "Best of" anthologies. He is a member of The Dramatists Guild and has taught playwrighting at The Barrow Group. As a performer: Film and Television - The Report, Ocean's 8, Marvel's Iron Fist, The Americans, recurring role on Steven Spielberg's Public Morals, Madam Secretary, Person of Interest, House of Cards, Henry's Crime, The Sopranos, Law and Order, SVU, CI, and The Blacklist. Broadway and tours: Mary Poppins, The Scarlet Pimpernell, 1776, City of Angels, A Grand Night for Singing, Once Upon A Mattress, Falsettos, and Dancing at Lughnasa.

How did you come up with the concept for The Pin-Up Girls: A Musical Love Letter.

In my bottom dresser drawer, tucked behind the clothes I wear when painting my apartment, lives a small bundle of letters written by my Uncle Bob while he was serving in the Korean War. I never knew Uncle Bob, I was just a few years old when he passed, but his letters have been passed around our family for years. No one dares to throw them out.

Then, about six months before Covid, I was approached by a producer, Claudia Stepp, who had just seen my Off-Broadway show, Popcorn Falls. The show was directed by Christian Borle and featured music by Jeffrey Lodin. Claudia was looking to commission someone to write a show and asked if I had any ideas. I immediately thought about Uncle Bob's letters, wrote a proposal and she loved the idea. We did our first production at Casa Manana Theatre in Ft. Worth, Texas.

Were there particular people that inspired ideas for the show?

My first inspiration came from letters from my Uncle Bob who fought in Korea, but there was also a man in my playwriting group who spent his life in the armed forces. I began interviewing him and his friends. It was in their stories, letters and photos where I began to find a lot of the humor. Then...I just started to talk to people, anyone, sometimes stagers, and the stories and letters revealed themselves to me.

We'd love to know a little bit about your collaboration for the show with Jeffrey Lodin.

Jeffrey Lodin has been an amazing collaborator and is a thrill to work with. I'm not sure I've ever seen anyone work so fast and passionately. I'm sure he never sleeps. We only had a few months to finish the show so we met a few times a week at his house and kept cranking out ideas until we came up with the final script and song list.

What are some of the challenges you have faced staging this musical production?

When first putting the show together, we knew it would be easy to come up with the emotional sections. It is, after all, about war. The challenge was to find the humor and to make sure each number had its own look so it felt like vaudeville.

Why do you think that NJ Rep is the right venue for The Pin Up Girls?

NJ Rep is perfect for us because SuzAnne and Gabe are used to working on new shows and understand that nothing is frozen. They roll with the punches. The space is perfect for us because you actually feel like you are in a local VFW Hall.

Can you tell us a little bit about your cast and creative team?

We have an amazing cast and crew. I feel honored to work with every single one of them. The show will feature choreography by Eugenio Contenti with his associate Molly Model. Jeffrey Lodin will be our musical director. While casting, we looked for great singers who were not afraid to be their authentic selves on stage. That can be hard when most actors are used to hiding behind a character. We found four extraordinary folks: Sara Glancy, Brittany Jeffrey, and two actors who have worked at NJ Rep before, AJ Melnick and Pheonix Vaughn. As for the design team... Jessica Parks has created a beautiful immersive set so the audience will feel they are actually walking into a local VFW Hall. The set was built with Bryan Snyder. Jill Nagle (Lights), Patricia Doherty (Costumes) and Nick Simone (Sound) all did stellar work on 'What Doesn't Kill You' so I have total faith in their imaginations and craft. Our stage management team, Kristin Pfeifer and Rachael Malloy, are at the ready to keep everything moving smoothly, and Sunjay Venkatraman is an advertising and social-media guru.

What would you like audiences to know about the show?

The audience should know that all these letters and stories are actually true - and that The Pin-Up Girls use songs from Beyonce to The Andrews Sisters to celebrate letters from war all the way back to WW1.

We know about your recent successes including your solo piece "What Doesn't Kill You." Can you share any more of your future plans with our readers?

Actually, I just returned from Dublin, Ireland where I performed 'What Doesn't Kill You' at The International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival, and it was thrilling. We received a Five Star review in The Irish Times and three Oscar Wilde Award nominations. Next up, 'Now Comes the Fun Part' - a show about turning 50, will premiere at Penguin Rep Theatre, written with Mark Waldrop, Lynne Halliday and Jeffrey Lodin. I am working with another team of writers on an evening of short plays titled, 'By The Book' and I'm in talks with a production company about my two short films, 'Finding Freddy' and 'The Exhibitionist.' Clearly, I liked to keep busy during Covid.

Interview: Director and Co-Creator James Hindman of THE PIN-UP GIRLS at NJ Rep 6/9 to 7/10

New Jersey Repertory Company is located at 179 Broadway, Long Branch, NJ 07740. The entrance to the theatre is in the rear with plenty of convenient free parking available. Tickets for The Pin Up Girls: A Musical Love Letter are available online at http://www.njrep.org/ and over the phone at 732-229-3166. Discounts available for veterans and active service members.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of James Hindman and NJ Rep



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