Skip to main content

ATTEMPTING THE ABSURD

New Line Theatre presents
a world premiere
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Scott Miller
July 17-18, 1992
Center of Contemporary Arts, St. Louis

Purchase the script here.
Purchase the vocal selections here.

SYNOPSIS
Attempting the Absurd is one of the first truly postmodern meta-musicals (written 1986-1992, debuted 1992), about a young man named Jason who has figured out that he's only a character in a musical and doesn’t actually exist; and his special knowledge has persuaded those around him that he's off his nut. After he loses his girlfriend, he sets off on a quest to find The Answers To It All, along with his musical comedy sidekick, Chaz. Along the way the two find love (both gay and straight), community theatre friends, a little jail time, and ultimately irrefutable proof that Jason is right after all. Love and a copy of the script to Attempting the Absurd conquer all, and all ends as it should, with a happy, full company reprise.

THE CAST
Darcy Bowles – Jenni Ryan
Jason Christopher – Dan Guller
Mrs. Christopher – Rose Marie Nester
Chaz Williams – Kevin Collier
Danny Hooper – Charlie Robin
Alex Throttlebottom – Dan Sattel
Mary – Mara Hesed
Val – Catherine Edwards
Audrey – Amy Willard
The Playwright – Joel Hackbarth
Floyd the Cop – Peter Wilson
The Judge – Joel Hackbarth
Alison Goldstein
Amy McInerney
Susan Schloss
Emily Shavers

THE ARTISTIC STAFFDirectors – Scott Miller and Steve Kutheis
Music director – Scott Miller
Orchestrations and Conductor– John Gerdes
Set Designer – Steve Kutheis
Lighting Designer – Brian Joyal
Set Coordinator – Kevin Collier
Business Manager – Holli Folk

THE REVIEWS
“Miller has a nice sense of the ridiculous. He also shows a good feeling for whimsy and, most important, he has a deep and abiding love for classic American musicals. I liked the show better than I thought I would; it’s collegiate, sometimes sophomoric, but there are moments of great charm.” – Joe Pollack, St. Louis Post Dispatch

“About as good an evening of first-view musical comedy as I’ve seen for a while. . . Miller’s book, music, and lyrics range widely, intelligently, unsentimentally, and wittily over familiar and unfamiliar territory.” – Harry Weber, The Riverfront Times

AUTHOR'S NOTES
It is the peculiar curse of the American Musical Theatre that it is never realistic. No matter how gritty and real Tony & Maria's Spanish Harlem or Tevye's Anatevka might be, it will never be realistic for them to break from spoken word into song.

Bob Fosse solved this problem with the film version of Cabaret by using only the songs performed onstage at the Kit Kat Klub. But by eliminating the other songs, the show really stopped being a musical in the strictest sense.

This problem was a constant topic of discussion among the musical theatre crowd at college. There must be a way, we decided, to get around it. And then, senior year, it struck me – if the characters know they're in a musical, then their singing is realistically motivated. They sing because they are characters in a musical.

Of course, this then presented lots of new logistical and philosophical problems, problems my roommate David Flores and I argued over for the entire school year. After graduation I set to work, and six years later, my aptly named Attempting the Absurd became a reality. But I feel compelled to share with the performers, artistic staff, and anyone else who happens to read this, the basic rules I developed to keep this craziness from falling apart:

1.) In a normal musical, characters do not generally know they are singing and they can't hear the orchestra. In this musical, however, those characters who know they're characters also know that they're singing. Characters who think they're real people do not know they are singing. This is very important.

2.) There are dozens of musical theatre references throughout the script and score. Few members of any audience will catch them all; most people will catch only a handful. But Jason and his friends don't make these references to get laughs or to "comment;" they make them because that is the world in which they live. Just as professional athletes tend to use a lot of sports jargon and metaphors, so is the language of these characters specific to their world. It's okay for the audience not to catch everything.

3.) Though two of the main characters are gay, they should not be played "gay." They are in the show to underline the theme of intolerance with a "real world" kind of prejudice that the audience may be familiar with. But every effort should be made to avoid them seeming overly "different" in any way.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

JOHNNY APPLEWEED

New Line Theatre presents
the world premiere
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Scott Miller
Oct.12-Nov. 4, 2006
ArtLoft Theatre, St. Louis
http://www.newlinetheatre.com/johnnypage.html

Purchase the script here.
Purchase the vocal selections here.

SYNOPSIS
Johnny Appleweed, itinerant philosopher-stoner, is on his way to Washington D.C. to tell the President he's screwing up our country and he should stop that! Over the course of the first act, Johnny meets up with a Christian-Republican closet-case, a lesbian performance artist, Jesus Christ himself, and a perky former televangelist. In Act II, this quirky gang of five finally meets the President and they set about trying to convince him to change his political ways. Through the lens of a pot-friendly worldview, the show takes aim at American party politics, the War on Terror, poverty, our American culture of violence, gay marriage, the legalization of marijuana, sexual oppression, and increasingly rabid American religious fanaticism, all …

BREAKING OUT IN HARMONY

New Line Theatre presents
a world premiere
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Scott Miller
based on an actual court case, Island Trees School District v. Pico
March 18-26, 1994
New City School Theatre, St. Louis

SYNOPSIS
Based on one of the most important book banning cases in U.S. history, Breaking Out in Harmony (a rewrite of The Line) explores the personal conflicts and powder keg emotions behind a simple act that snowballed into a U.S. Supreme Court case, Island Trees School District v. Pico. A small group of parents in a quiet suburban town break into their kids' high school library one night to remove "objectionable" books they've found on a list from a national conservative parents group. When their kids find out, the town is soon split in two – and so are some of the families – and the kids end up taking their parents and their school district all the way to the Supreme Court.

THE CAST
Tucker Goodman – Kent Hobson
Steven Goodman – Kevin Collier
Anne Goodman – Dena O’…

THE LINE

Affton Alumni Theatre presents
a world premiere
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Scott Miller
based on an actual court case, Island Trees School District v. Pico
July 26-27, 1985
Affton Senior High School Theatre, St. Louis

SYNOPSIS
Based on one of the most important book banning cases in U.S. history, The Line explores the personal conflicts and powder keg emotions behind a simple act that snowballed into a U.S. Supreme Court case, Island Trees School District v. Pico. A small group of parents in a quiet suburban town break into their kids' high school library one night to remove "objectionable" books they've found on a list from a national conservative parents group. When their kids find out, the town is soon split in two – and so are some of the families – and the kids end up taking their parents and their school district all the way to the Supreme Court.

THE CAST
Max – Ann Pierce
Kevin Stratton – Todd Ryan
Steven Stratton – Ron Kenney
Linda Stratton – Cindy Keck
Lisa T…