An interview with Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond, writers of the Festival ’11 show Dani Girl, about their show, life since the Festival and other projects they are working on.
Dani Girl is the inspiring and humorous story of a young girl’s battle with a life-threatening disease. Far from sitting back and accepting her condition, Dani transforms her struggle into a fantastical adventure. Together with her teddy bear, imaginary guardian angel and movie-obsessed hospital roommate, she battles a personified Cancer across the realms of fantasy and reality as she attempts to get her beloved hair back. Told from a child’s perspective, this provocative musical explores the universal themes of life in the face of death, hope in the face of despair and the indomitable power of imagination.
What was the response to your presentation at the Festival?
We got a terrific response. The feedback we received was incredibly encouraging and it’s generated some great opportunities for the piece, including the chance to participate in the festival at The Human Race Theatre Co. (Aug. 3-5), which we’re thrilled about. Additionally, the Festival has generated several opportunities for us beyond Dani Girl, which have allowed us to begin to develop several new projects. We’ve also made some terrific new contacts that we hope will lead to new opportunities in the future, which came about as a direct result of NAMT.
Did the Festival process make you go back and revise or refine anything in the show?
Absolutely. The process of preparing the piece for the presentation, trimming it down to 45 minutes, helped us to see some potential cuts to the script that we ended up implementing. We’ve also gone back and done some work on the very opening of the show, which we think helps to establish the tone of the piece much more clearly right from the get-go.
What are you hoping to work on while at Human Race?
In addition to seeing how the new changes we’ve made feel up on their feet, we’re looking forward to getting to watch the show in front of a regional American audience. The show has changed quite a bit since the last time we were able to do so, and we’re interested in seeing how people respond.
Why should people come out to Dayton and check out Dani Girl?
We feel that Dani Girlis a theatrical experience unlike any other. It’s a story that needs to be told and it’s told in a way that people don’t expect. If the show works the way we want it to, we think that it has the potential to do most of the things that great theater should do. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll think. You’ll experience the full gamut of human emotion and you’ll come out seeing the world in a different light.
What else is planned for Dani Girl?
We’re working on setting up a number of small regional productions at the moment, as well as a few international ones. Additionally, we’re in the midst of discussions for a potential New York opportunity. Hopefully we’ll be able to say more soon.
Other than Dani Girl, you had residencies at Goodspeed Musicals and at The 5th Avenue Theatre with more coming up at at Trinity Rep and Rhinebeck Writers Retreat. What are you working on at these residencies and how have the experiences been?
We’ve been working on a new, original musical called The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes, which tells the story of a man who wakes up to discover that his life has become a musical. Not being the type of man who would see this change as a good thing, he embarks on a journey to escape the world of the musical and get his normal life back.
This project has been a blast to work on. It’s been great to work on something that’s a bit more commercial and more focused on comedy than some of our other work. At the same time, the premise allows us to have fun with a lot of the conventions of musical theater, while simultaneously digging into the heart of what musicals are all about.
The experiences that we’ve had thus far have been terrific. We felt unbelievably supported at Goodspeed and The 5th Avenue. In both cases, we received some incredibly encouraging responses as well as some terrific feedback that has shaped the direction we’re heading in. We’re really looking forward to continuing to develop it at Trinity and Rhinebeck this summer, as well as continuing to develop a couple of other projects that we have in various stages of development.
For more information about Dani Girl, please visit www.koomandimond.com