BWW Previews: CLAVICO EXTENDS RUN at HCC Mainstage Theatre Ybor City
If you missed the musical Clavico! A Most Peculiar Musical Comedy competing in the Tampa Bay Theatre Festival, you still have an opportunity. The run has been extended September 13 - 15 at HCC Mainstage Theatre, Ybor City.
Clavico! is a musical comedy that centers on the residents of a no-name town, surrounded by a seemingly impenetrable wall that was built by El Duque, a foul swordfighter of long ago. A group of residents attempts to escape, but their plot is regularly destroyed by the evil dictator. When Clavico comes to town, is he the hero the town has been praying for or just an El Duque replacement?
Though a wall storyline seems very similar to what's in the news, the story was written when the now-adult playwright Emi Diaz was just 14 years old.
"I think at that time I was already so enamored with performing, with theatre and with musicals especially that I wanted to see if I could write one. Suffice to say it was quite a mountainous task, but I didn't give up and even sought help from my then-Drama Teacher, Brother Burns," said Emi.
To adapt a play written before the age of technology, Emi reached out to those involved in the production.
"I have my Director, Arlene Jacobs, as well as her daughter Jessica Jacobs and my co-composer Xander McColley as well as my entire cast to thank for that. Arlene helped fix a lot of the errors, helped edit it so that it would make more sense for now."
The music and play happened at the same time for the teenaged Emi. He credits co-composer Xander, also 14 years old, for bringing his vision to life in 2019.
"When I first wrote the musical, I had no knowledge of how to write music so I had to memorize how all the songs sounded in my head," said Emi. "Amazingly, I have been keeping all of them in my head this entire time. It wasn't until I met Xander that he worked with me to make the music in my head become reality on paper and on stage, of course.
Seeing all these wonderful people, my friends, work with me to bring Clavico to life has been one of the greatest experiences I've had. They all have such an amazing dedication to their craft and to this production, I am truly honored to share the stage with each and every one of them."
When envisioning the production, director Arlene Jacobs was inspired by popular comedy icons.
"When I was first given the script I immediately started thinking Mel Brooks meets Monty Python, and I believe I've pulled a lot from them for my direction. The writer told me that the "town" itself was a character and so I began to play with that idea as I designed the background and brought in the cast to fill the town. Even though the dialogue is mostly between the main characters (as is expected), a lot of the humor comes from the townsfolk and their reactions. I've got an amazing cast, and I've asked a lot from them. It's wonderful when you watch it come alive."
Because the script was brand-new, the cast was able to be the first to birth their vision of how their characters should be.
"I really enjoyed not being "in a box" when deciding my character choices," said actress Jessica Jacobs. "Since this is a brand-new musical, there were no expectations about what my character would be like other than the description given in the script."
Actor Michael Pruitt added, "What I truly love about this show, again if I were to pick one thing, is that it feels like a cartoon. I'm a cartoon fan from way back and I think this show reminds me of many of my older favorites, like Fractured Fairytales and Dudley Do-Right. Many of the folks in the show may be too young to remember those but for me, it's very nostalgic."
When asked what the most important message he hoped the audience takes away from his script, Emi replied, "That anything is possible. If you have a dream, get it done. Excuses are plenty but at the end of the day, the only real obstacle is yourself. Like Clavico always says, "Do the Dare!"
Clavico! A Most Peculiar Musical Comedy is September 13-15 at HCC Mainstage Theatre, 2204 N. 15th Street, Ybor City. To learn more visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1XmkEdcfKQ&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR03vo67Uxq1TGhaThnFYtqhLOngSqwQBA9ydUtMxolHbSoNjJ6Qp2MSxeA or to purchase tickets, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/clavico-extended-dates-tickets-69337070043