INTERVIEW: Lady Monday Creative Team Sit Down To Chat
Lady Monday is a new rock opera currently in the workshops. I was fortunate enough to catch it's first "on it's feet" performance on May 5, 2017. Last Fall, Lady Monday had it's very first read through. After a few months spent on edits and some adjustments it was put on it's feet for an audience of just over 50 people on May 5. With music stands, and folding chairs the actors were able to tackle to opera gracefully, complete with blocking and light choreography. I was thrilled to chat with director Scott F. Davis, and creator/composer David Alan Thornton.
Trevor: To start things off if yo ucould tell me a little bit about your background and what brought you to this point in your artistic career that would be great.
Scott: So I just graduated last may of last year from Pace University as a directing major. I became artistically involved with the company producing the rock opera, Playhouse Creatures, about 3 years ago by directing for their Tennessee Williams fest, which is happening this summer again. I directed a one act for that. Then I really connected with the artistic director, Joseph Rodriguez and then kind of immersed into the company by assisting on two of their main stage shows the next year. Then later summer, being introduced to David, to start workshops and development for Lady Monday. From that point, we started concert readings, in last August, and one in January following that. For those two concerts we focused directly on the development of the music and introducing actors to the mix. Coming from a concept album, to putting it on stage and seeing what kind of structure and story we were looking to tell. Now after the workshop you last saw we got to see it in a more visual sense we got to play around with a book to compliment the score, to clarify action and plot. Going forward we are further to developing a production for next year.
David: I always loved theatre and music growing up. I grew up in Alaska, so I kind of learned from old films and film productions of shows. I was at the end of college studying language when I realized I just wanted to be an artist. So I moved to New York in 2010 to be part of a [musical theatre workshop] as a lyricist. And then upon being scorned and not accepted to the advanced workshop; I began writing music to perform myself. Lady Monday has kind have been the marriage of both of those things. I was writing a lot of songs separate from the theatre but my theatre background lended to story telling. So i ended up finding a way to telling a story through a lot of those songs. After finding the concept of the basic story, I've been replacing more and more songs with pieces that better communicate what the story is about. That’s what brought me here artistically.
Trevor: So how did you come to find the story and how has it been developed thus far?
David: The story came out of a lot of separate songs and characters that existed in the music. As a song writer I really love names. Names inherently invoke a story. If you use a name and give something a name anyone listening or reading will assume there's a history, a backstory, something that they are not reading. It allows them to connect to something that name creates. I had several songs and one involved a character named Abigail, one involved a character named Johnny, one, and one involved a character named Arthur. I, having finished the Lady Monday album was looking at these stories that already existed and how could they exist in the same world. So we started building a history out of that. I decided to set the story in small town in Indiana cause that’s where I went to college. And I feel, especially today that there is such an ignorance of the Midwest. I say that especially today, because of the political scene. There are lots very, very angry groups of people who are angry at one another. People think that in the Midwest people are very closed minded, and all Republican. But really there is a lot of pain and hurt. It’s a group of people that have a lot to say, if given a voice.
Trevor: That being said, that must be something you want to communicate to the audience. What else do you want them to take away from the piece itself?
Scott: I think we are showing a group of people which aren't normally represented on stage. a lot of musicals are representing New York City and whats happening today like, a very current romantic comedy. But this musical shows people who are stuck and struggling to find some sort of escape, (which is different for each character). Which I think resonate with a large group of people. Especially people living in this current world. People who are facing socio-economic or financial struggles are feeling stuck, especially going into this presidency. Seeing everything that's transpiring with policies and potential budget cuts; there is an impending stuck feeling which, I feel, a lot of these characters are experiencing. That is what I think what I would love the audience to walk away with, especially because we are going to be showing this in New York again, but before that in Boston , showing it to groups of people that don’t really resonate with these states like Indiana or Ohio... I think there is a common understanding that needs to happen, in this time, in order for rehabilitation of people to fully grow as a society in a larger sense.
David: If I could pick only one thing it would be that it is worth facing your problems because that is where you will find resolutions. Scott is right, it is a show about escapism and it is a show everyone is trying to escape something. Escape their problems. The end of the show is about how the hardest thing can be is [the] quit running and turn and face those things that are haunting you. That is where we find peace in the end. There are a million things communicated the the characters and stories, but if there was just the one thing [for the audience to walk away with] I'd want it to be that. Everyone has something they are trying to avoid and everyone has ghosts and we have to be willing to allow ourselves and the people around us to deal with those things.
Stay tuned for more as we follow Lady Monday through its road of growth and changed. Special thanks to Scott and David for taking the time to chat. Find out more about Playhouse Creatures here!