Thursday, February 20, 2014

Croak and Dagger: A Frog Blog

Where the hell have I been ?
As of late, my on-line presence has diminished to a few paltry, however pithy posting on Facebook while this blog has dried up quicker than a California water bed (a reference both timely and outdated).
The truth of the matter is I've been spending some quality time with my new frog friend. No, I didn't get a new pet and I'm not having an acid flashback. I don't think. Wait. No. I'm fine.
A few postings back I announced that my play SONG OF THE LONE PRAIRIE ( re-named SONG OF THE CANYON KID to coincide with the new book) is being produced this summer at The Great American Melodrama and Vaudeville in Oceano, California.One of the sweetest things about this is that they contacted me. I didn't solicit them.
After receiving that swell news, I took the bulls by the bouillon and sent out this script along with LA RUE'S RETURN (which I co-wrote with Ed Thorpe) to some other theaters specializing in melodrama across the country. Even though most of them picked their 2014 seasons already, I jumped the gun and submitted them for 2015. Currently these two works o' mine (and Ed's of course) are being considered at theater companies in Colorado, California, Texas and even here in Oregon for next year. I guess my query skills have improved since I got a lot of bites when I cast my line in these waters.
One establishment I contacted was actually named Mel O"Drama Theater located in Nashville and son of a gun if I didn't get a bite. Melanie Roady, the owner/operator/namesake of M O'D had particular interest in LARUE, but after reading it decided it didn't fit her particular format. You see, her group specializes in interactive murder mysteries, something I would have known if I had only read the website instead of taking the name at face value. What do you want from me? If I go to Barney's Beanery, I expect to see beans on the menu, not cupcakes.
However, Mel had a proposition for me. Would I like to try my hand at one of her shows based on her outline? Oh and by the way, the main character is a frog who solves the crime.
"Why sure," I agreed. "Wait a hippity-hoppity second here...a frog? A frog frog? Is this a Muppet murder mystery? Oh, a frog man. Like a scuba diver. Nooo...a man with frog-like characteristics. Okayyyyy...."
Francois is a character created in a series of paintings by artist Jann Harrison who also resides in Nashville. Jann has conceived a whole mythology that go along with each piece she's painted. So Francois is a suave, debonair bon vivant who is, to use her words, "a man in transition".
 http://www.jannharrison.com/
I agreed to pen a script but I was under a very tight deadline and the challenge itself proving rather daunting. Murder mysteries are not my first love and red herrings do not sit well in my tummy tum tum. Then to transform this man-frog, frog-man, lily pad lover to the stage and make him palatable as a main character was just icing on the fish cake.
What prompted me to continue was that the story was set in New Orleans, the same setting for LA RUE.which is what interested the producer in the first place. I'm crazy in love with the culture an lore of  N'Awlins and had the good fortune of just finishing up the finale episodes of TREME and the current season of AMERICAN HORROR STORY (which unfortunately ended very weakly). So I added Mardi Gras to the storyline as well as a touch of voodoo here and some Cajun spice there.
After two and a half weeks of banging my head against the wall trying to figure out the intricacies of who killed who and with what and how , I turned in a script with two possible endings (different killers for different nights). Challenge accepted, challenge met. Now it's time for some fine tuning.
What I didn't realize is that the show has already been pre-booked. Mel Roady got shows lined up for this froggy lil' epic beginning APRIL 12! And there's my name, prominently in the credits.
Such is the power of networking. I scored another gig. 2014 will see two separate productions on either side of the United States written by (ahem) Scott Cherney.
And I'm hungry for more

For more info of THE PERILS OF FRANCOIS
http://melodramatheater.org/upcoming-shows/

For more info of SONG OF THE CANYON KID
 http://www.americanmelodrama.com/2014-season/


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