A guest blog entry from Kevin Del Aguila, writer of The Astonishing Return of…The Protagonists! to be presented at this year’s Festival of New Musicals.
It’s a week away from NAMT, I’ve got our 40ish-minute cut of the show ready, we’ve written a new song for the presentation, we’ve assembled an UNBELIEVABLE cast, and yet all I can do is think about the venue where the whole thing will take place: New World Stages.
New World Stages is where I go every night. Not because I love hanging out in a basement, but because that’s where I’m currently performing in Peter and the Starcatcher, reprising the role of “Smee” that I originated on Broadway. Our producers recently announced that the show will be closing in mid-January, so I’ve felt a little nostalgic about New World recently, and started to think about how much time I’ve spent there.
With a style that can only be described as “airplane hanger chic,” New World Stages is the place where I first became involved with NAMT as the director of the See Rock City and Other Destinations presentations in 2008. Hey! That’s not true! I was a performer in
the musical Lizzie Borden at NAMT in 2000 when it took place at the (now demolished) Douglas Fairbanks Theater many moons back. Well, forget about that.
These days, I’m wearing my author hat at NAMT. And my little superhero extravaganza, The Astonishing Return of…The Protagonists!, will be showcased not just within the same theatreplex that I go to every night, but on the exact stage where another show I wrote ran Off Broadway for five terrific years. The show was called Altar Boyz and it gave me my first taste of commercial success. I was no longer just “a guy who writes,” I became “the guy who wrote Altar Boyz.” A small, but tremendous upgrade to my career.
In fact, several of my collaborators from Altar Boyz are involved in our NAMT presentation, from performers (Andy Karl, Tyler Maynard and Carlos Encinias) to our Music Director (Lynne Shankel) to our director Chris Gattelli, who won a Lucille Lortel award for his choreography of Altar Boyz at a ceremony held at…New World Stages!
Walking around NWS (as the kids call it), I find that each area brings back a memory. The stairwell where I slept between shows. The hallway where I met that TV actor. The couch where I first read a review of Altar Boyz that called my book “wafer thin” (oh, if I had a nickel…). The bathroom where someone unknowingly recommended my own show to me. It’s a place where I’ve had a lot of anxiety, laughter, failure and success. In short, it’s the theatre.
The Protagonists! is a project that I started writing when New World Stages was still just a $2 movie theater. I am very thankful to NAMT for helping to bring it to life and looking forward to adding another memory to the place.