Fall Theater Production | "Freak Like Me: The Musical" (premier)
Treat yourself to a rare event this November and get tickets now for the world premiere performance of Freak Like Me: The Musical November 15-17 in the Peninsula College Little Theater. Showings will be each evening at 7:30 pm. There will also be a matinee performance at 2:00 pm on Saturday, November 17.
The musical is written by PC English faculty Michael Calvin Mills and is produced by the Port Angeles Light Opera Association and the Peninsula College Drama Department under the direction of PC drama director Lara Starcevich, with musical direction by PALOA music director Kristen Quigley-Brye.
In this musical comedy a Bigfoot hunting nerd, whose best friend is a talking calculator, falls in love with a cheerleader he meets deep in the forest. After a brief affair, she leaves in a fit of doubt, and the Nerd’s only perceived hope lies in capturing Bigfoot. Meanwhile, the nerd is being stalked by a villain of vaudeville-ian proportions, who, in turn, is being stalked by an angry bearded lady. Perhaps the nerd can enlist the assistance of the lovesick Mr. Universe in his search for Bigfoot. And if he finds Bigfoot, maybe, just maybe, he can win back the cheerleader, answers you will only learn by coming to see the play
Inspired by The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Grease, and Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, the ballads and rock n’ roll songs will take you to a place you’ve never been before, in search of something you never knew you wanted to find.
Behind the scenes of Freak Like Me: The Musical there is also plenty of “risky business” to be found. Mills took the first risk when he played the songs for Starcevich. “I was laughing at myself the whole time, and knew that the songs would seem ridiculous…not to mention the funny voices I used to sing the songs as various characters. And I’m talking about characters that are male, female, human, and other.” Mills says.
He took that risk after he saw the recent productions of The Rocky Horror Show and Cannibal! The Musical, also produced by the Peninsula College and PALOA partnership. “When I saw those shows, I knew they would get my sense of humor. And I knew they had the necessary talent and devotion to make it a hell of a show,” says Mills.
Then it was Starcevich’s turn to take a risk by asking partners at PALOA if they would take a chance. What would they think of doing a world premiere of a locally written full-length musical by an unknown writer? Starcevich has an eye for funny material that pushes the boundaries of what one might expect to see in a musical, and she was hoping PALOA would agree.
PALOA’s Quigley-Brye and Richard Stephens, the play’s set and costume designer, did agree, and they signed on to co-produce the show. But they knew they were also taking a risk. Because it had never hit the stage before, there were no guarantees. All they had was a script and a set of rough recordings.
Luckily for Mills and Starcevich, PALOA is interested in furthering all aspects of musical theatre on the Peninsula. Bringing an original musical to the stage for the first time fit this mission. After several meetings, the co-production team gave the project the green light.
With the production crew falling into place, there was still one important set of risk takers left to recruit: the actors, musicians, and crewmembers. The actors who showed up for auditions in late September had no idea what they were in for when they walked through the theatre doors. Despite the unknowns, a brave band of actors, musicians and crew joined the team.
At the “table read,” the cast and crew met each other, and the actors read their parts and listened to the music in its entirety for the first time. Now everyone involved in the show is faithfully preparing for the real “risky business” of hitting the stage with a brand new musical on opening night.
The cast of characters is campy. The comedy is sometimes edgy and sometimes naively innocent. The premise of the story lives somewhere between “truth is stranger than fiction” and complete absurdity, which happen to be the author’s specialties. Throughout the show, a series of secrets will be revealed, building to a crescendo as various desires are satisfied and others are thwarted.
A live band comprised of guitar, piano, bass, and drums, led by Quigley-Brye, will capture your attention and make you long for more. Nerdy ballads like “We’ve Got Chemistry” and “Chaos Theory” play with metaphors about science and discovery. Other numbers, like “Meet The Wolf Boy,” “Cruel,” “Freak Like Me” and “On Top of the Big Top” involve carnival and freak-show character back stories. But there are also comically sexy pieces, like “My Furry Friend” and “Blame Walt Dizzy.” These guitar- and piano- accompanied ballads contrast with more upbeat rock ‘n’ roll songs like “Bigfoot Hunter.”
The songs and the actors are all enhanced by Stephens’s fabulous creature and human character costumes. For instance, when one song calls for “mermaids and aliens, giant squid and chupacabra, angels from heaven, and dinosaurs,” Stephens answers with stunning costume concepts.
Mills said he wrote the first piece of music for the play about three years ago, never thinking at that time that it would become a major production. “It was a lightning strike of inspiration,” he says. A guitar player for 20 years, he had just learned a 1950s rock ‘n’ roll riff and the first line he wrote set the theme for the whole play:
“I’m a bigfoot hunter baby/and I know it drives you crazy/but I’m gonna prove you wrong/one of these days!”
From there, the story line took off. The summer of 2011 was the turning point, he says. The songs all came together, and he also wrote the dialogue for the play. Then this past summer he committed fully to completing the musical he had been working on and thinking about.
“I worked on it for three months full-time,” he says. “I blocked out every hour of the day and learned how to write a score.” The result is Freak Like Me: The Musical.
Ticket prices are: General, $15; Senior, $12; PC Student, Free; Non-PC Student, $5. Tickets may be purchased online at www.peninsulacollege.camp9.org