BWW Interview: Broadway Actor Chase Ramsey on New Streaming Musical BLINK
Hale Center Theater Orem is premiering a new contemporary musical, BLINK, via streaming. The show was written over a matter of weeks entirely during quarantine by David Paul Smith and Chase Keala Ramsey, who is the standby for the lead role of Elder Cunningham in the Broadway cast of THE BOOK OF MORMON.
BLINK streams Friday, June 12 to Sunday, June 14 and may be viewed anytime between 5 p.m. and midnight MT. To purchase $10 tickets, visit https://tickets.haletheater.org/overview/651.
Ramsey spoke with BroadwayWorld about creating the show and the effects of the pandemic on his work.
1. What is BLINK about?
It's about the relationship between a father and his daughter starting from the birth of his daughter to the death of the father. They learn what it means to love unconditionally and hold onto every moment as they experience the good and bad, because if they blink, they might miss it.
2. What gave you the idea? Can you tell us about the accelerated writing process?
The idea came from David Smith's relationship with his daughter and that feeling that most parents have that make it feel like they "grow up too fast" and life goes by in a blink. The story idea was originally a Pixar short idea. Dave and I were looking for a story that only needed two actors in the room at a time, and this seemed to connect. As per the process, it's been tough for both of us. A lot of late nights. The most important part of writing is rewriting...spending time editing. I am an actor in THE BOOK OF MORMON musical, and that show is genius, but it took six years and hundreds of rewrites to get there. So, we are missing a key part of the writing process. However, it has been an incredible distraction to power through and build a great story for audiences to see. Dave has been up most nights this past week until three in the morning just trying to get the tracks recorded and layered with drums and other instruments. A lot of time has gone into this thing. The time is just stacked on top of each other.
3. What will the casting and rehearsals be like during this time of social distancing?
The show only has two people on stage at a time, and so we will keep it small. Rehearsals will take place over a week. Hale Center Theater Orem is also taking steps to ensure a clean workspace with attention to detail. Casting is a little different than usual because of the speed and all, so we asked some of our local colleagues. We did our due diligence to find people we knew would be on time and ready to work. It is an incredible cast to say the least.
4. You've had several of your past theatre for young audience shows streamed by Hale Center Theater Orem and the SCERA. Did you reach out to the theatres or vice versa? What has it been like seeing your shows have a second life in this way?
Yeah, we started out bringing the idea to theatres. We knew that we wanted to build stuff together, and we just needed to find a venue and groups of people we loved to work with. We have yet to try and take our work outside of Utah as there is a built-in audience and purpose here. We haven't felt the need to do that. But BLINK might change all of that. It's a full length musical, and it's got some potential. Watching our shows come together is one of the more magical things in my life. I am sure other writers feel this way, but watching someone add layers to your words is indescribable.
5. How did you and David Smith begin writing together, and what has informed your decisions on what stories to adapt?
I called Dave five years ago and said that I had an idea. I was watching all of these TYA (theatre for young audiences) shows, and I kept thinking...we might be able to do this better. Now, I am not sure that we have done anything "better," but people continue to ask us back, so we count ourselves lucky. I have noticed that Dave has an incredible beat on the audiences in this area, and that (in my opinion) is one of the most important things in building a new show. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. So, for sure the work that we are doing together is geared towards a Utah audience. Keeping things family friendly and morally sound. I do think, however, that BLINK belongs to everyone, but you don't have to worry about content if you prefer a clean show.
6. What was it like hearing that Broadway was closing and you wouldn't be able to keep performing in THE BOOK OF MORMON? How do you cope with the uncertainty moving forward?
Broadway, like the rest of the world, happened really fast. I was about to get on a bus to the show when we got a text from stage management that we were closed. At the time, of course, I didn't think I'd be out of the job until September. But what's interesting about being an artist is that we never really know if we are going to have a job tomorrow. We are gypsies in that way. So, I just keep looking for the next thing and creating daily. I am busier now than I was before. Life of an artist is uncertain, and so the show must go on... Even when there aren't any shows.
7. Why should people watch BLINK?
The themes and moments are universal. It's such a subtle and clear story that there is no way that our audiences won't be lifted out of their seats. I can guarantee it will be loved. However, at this time another reason to tune is to keep the arts alive. Big theatres are closing down forever, and I promise the impact of live theatre dying will be felt. This is a chance to help keep it alive. Oh... And again...You will love it.
Sam's life is about to change when he finds out that his wife is expecting, but little does he know how much. Explore the complicated and touching story of a father and his daughter as they learn together what it means to love unconditionally and hold on to every moment, because if they blink, they might miss it.
A world premiere of a brand-new musical from David Paul Smith and Chase Keala Ramsey, BLINK is a modern love letter to the importance of family and a perfect story to be told right in the comfort of your own home through the Hale@Home series.