Creating new works is part of the mission of the CLO and we are always looking for fresh material, especially for the Cabaret. Finding new and exciting small-scale musicals for our year-round programming has been a challenge for us.
After I saw Jerry Springer the Opera (which I thought was a hoot) in London I thought of creating a show along the same vein but also with some audience participation. The super-sized personalities and live and reactive audiences of Court TV shows seemed like good material to mine for musical comedy.
I saw a reading of Dani Girlat the NAMT Festival and then had an opportunity to listen to Howard Barnes and was sold. They are imaginative writers and because I wanted humor that skewed a little younger for my show, they seemed right for the job. The process of creating the show was like others I have been a part of, highs and lows, agreements and disagreements, and striving to reach the best place possible. A commissioned work poses unique challenges because it is an inherently collaborative writing process. Because Judge Jackie was my idea, I knew what I wanted and was specific with the writers.
Why do think it is important for your theatre to create new musicals for your audience?
We’ve been involved in a number of new shows both at the Cabaret and for our main stage. As a producing regional theatre, it is important for us to contribute where we can to the expanding canon of musicals that in the years ahead will be produced here and around the world. Our subscribers are savvy theater goers who are devoted to classic musical theater and they get excited by new musicals too.
Our audiences appear to be having a good time and we are selling tickets. In addition to enjoying the zany humor I’ve had people tell me that the show has “heart” and very catchy songs.
Most importantly we want our audience to enjoy this musical, which, incidentally, has lots of local references built in which can be adapted to suit any city’s humorous idiosyncrasies and could be a lot of fun performed regionally.
What are your long term hopes for new musicals at the Cabaret?
We hope that any show we create at the CLO Cabaret will appeal to our audiences and find a life outside of Pittsburgh. This show is right for almost any theatre. We’ll see where “the Judge” takes us!
Why should people swing out to Pittsburgh for some Justice?
The show skews to a slightly younger audience than our shows normally do but it’s a pretty standard book musical format that will satisfy purists. It could work well on main stages or at smaller venues trying to attract new audiences. By the way, with a younger audience in mind we built into the start of the show some fun social media opportunities (see #judgejackie).
For more information about the show, please visit www.pittsburghclo.org