As many of you know, I’m a pretty huge Spider-Man fan. Have been since I was just a wee lad. Unfortunately, I never got the chance to see Julie Taymor‘s, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark; but I heard about it’s many MANY problems during production. Luckily, the people at The Colonel Mustard are going to right the wrongs of Ms. Taymor with their stage production of Spider-Man: The Musical: The Musical! I got a chance to talk to them about their Kickstarter campaign below!
1) The first question obviously, is why make a Musical based off a horrible Musical? Did you get to see the original Julie Taymor production?
Hello Towelites! (Towelonians? Towelers?) One of my personal rules in writing the show was that I wasn’t going to read anything more about Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark than the Wikipedia entry, which will either tell you that I am really dumb, or will tell you just how little our show is based on the reality of the famous Broadway flop (or both). We took more than a few artistic liberties, and that was the point. We wanted to start in a place that was true, and then very quickly take it to a place that is fantastical. In our version, the reason Julie Taymor’s show fails is because she’s too busy thwarting the evil plans of a giant monstrous Spider King to worry about silly things like actors falling out of the rigging. But in the end, it is her show that (somehow) saves the day. We liked the challenge of putting on a show that is about the kind of show that definitely should not go on. In fact, that’s our closing number, “The Show Must Not Go On.”
Absolutely. I always find that it’s easy to make fun of the things you love best, like your family members or your home state. And it’s even easier when you have a love-hate relationship with the thing you’re making fun of. That was certainly true of the first musical I co-wrote for The Colonel Mustard, “Dr. Quinn: The Musical”. Dr. Quinn is a ridiculous 90s TV show, but I can’t say I hate it because…then why have I watched every single episode? It requires way too much dedication to write a full length original musical about something that doesn’t fascinate you. In regards to SMTMTM, we’re all huge fans of Broadway musicals, Julie Taymor, U2, Stan Lee, the Spider-Man franchise, and spiders in general. But I don’t think anyone would say they’re a fan of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. It’s an easy target, which is why I wanted to do much more with this show than spoof an obviously terrible thing. SMTMTM is a parody, but it also tells its own unique and surprising narrative, and it even goes so far as to suggest that maybe Julie Taymor’s show was bad for a good reason.
As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, we have to raise money in all kinds of creative ways, so a bake sale is not out of the question! (Mmmmm…bake sale.) But when it comes to our large-scale theatre productions, we’ve found nothing to be as effective as Kickstarter, because it provides a forum for us to not only raise money, but tell our story. We’re more interested in the number of supporters than the number of dollars, because we are first and foremost a community. We always say, “people over projects”, because our philosophy is that great collaborative art comes out of great cooperative friendships. Kickstarter seems to be all about that too — it’s a social network that allows fans to literally buy in to our projects, join the conversation, and in so doing join our community.
Cats. Ha, just kidding. Seriously, I’ve thought long and hard about this my whole life. And the answer is…West Side Story. No! The Sound of Music. No! My Fair Lady. Arghhh, no, no, it’s Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Beauty and the Beast. Les Miserables. Can I phone a friend? Help!
I wish it was a line of work! At this point it is just a line of hobby. The short story is that I used to live in a big old Victorian house in downtown Lincoln, NE, called The Colonel Mustard. One Christmas, on a weird whim, I wrote a Christmas play and my friends and I performed it (very badly, I might add) in the attic in front of the 60 or so people who came to our party. It was equal parts terrible and magical. My friends Aaron Holmes and Phillip Malcom approached me soonafter and said something along the lines of, “We want to do another play in your attic. And this time it will be science fiction.” So things just got weirder and bigger from there. We made the mistake of announcing we’d next perform “Jurassic Park: The Musical”, and then people got really excited about it, so we were like, “Damn, now we actually have to somehow perform this dinosaur musical.” But as it turned out, Aaron had a real flair for lyrics, and Phil was a talented composer. We threw together a ragtag group of actors and an orchestra, and 250 people turned out to see our crazy spectacle in the backyard. The video of the performance even went viral online. Before we knew it, we became addicted to the creative challenge of writing and performing these plays and musicals, and they got more ambitious each year. At some point along the way, we formalized our organization into a 501(c)(3), in order for supporters to write off their tax donations, but a few things have remained constant: friendship, lo-fi aesthetics, and a commitment to enriching the arts scene in Lincoln, NE. Oh, and also our spectacularly awful special effects. We still make fake blood out of chocolate syrup, and there’s always an excessive amount of it in every show.
Secrets! We have a few ideas up our sleeve, but instead of spoiling the good ideas I’ll tell you a few musicals we will NEVER make. Song of the South: The Musical! Schindler’s List: The Musical! Extreme Couponing: The Musical! And of course Cats.
We have more pie in the sky dreams than we can eat, but a few of them include: writing and recording more original “Mustard Music”, performing another experimental immersive production, building a crazy Halloween haunted house, producing more Mustard short films (we shot our first this summer!), manufacturing our own real brand of mustard (no, really!), and someday expanding our vast Mustard empire by acquiring Comcast.
Well there ya have it. Thank you so much to Lindsay from The Colonel Mustard for taking the time to chat with us about Spider-Man: The Musical: The Musical. Make sure to check out their Kickstarter, Facebook, YouTube and Website to learn more and to spend your unites, credits, and web fluid on the project!