|Festival 2013 show Analog and Vinyl is jumping up to Vermont’s Weston Playhouse this summer for its world premiere. This month we check in with the show’s writer Paul Gordon about preparing for the musical’s first production.
Harrison is obsessed with LPs from the sixties and the superior quality of analog. Rodeo Girl, a quirky Silver Lake hipster, is obsessed with Harrison but he barely notices. With his vintage record store about to go under, Harrison and Rodeo Girl are visited by a mysterious customer who makes them a devilish offer they can’t refuse.
What did you learn about Analog and Vinyl while preparing it for the Festival?
Preparing for the Festival wasn’t as much a learning experience as it was an “inspiring” experience. Once you know your show is going to be seen by an industry audience, it does strange things to the creative process. You start looking at the material with more fluid eyes. You start questioning and examining the material (all while trying to create a 45-minute presentation), and suddenly you begin asking yourself the serious dramaturgical questions of theme and character (that you had previously avoided) that are vital to the developmental process. One of the great gifts that came out of my preparation for the Festival was that I felt incentivized to write a new song for the lead character that helped to transform the show.
Your show only had readings leading up to the Festival and now is preparing for a world premiere this summer at Weston Playhouse. What has it been like to jump from reading to production without a workshop in between?
Heaven. I love workshops and readings but there’s nothing like preparing for a production. In our day and age some have been critical that shows have “too many readings” and “too many workshops” in the developmental stage. To me that is pure nonsense. I have never done a reading where I didn’t gain some primary understanding about my show (even if that understanding was, “hey, this is crap…”). With that said, after several readings and the Festival, I’m delighted to actually have, for the first time, a proper rehearsal period to really further develop the work with cast, crew, designers and director.
What have you been working on since the Festival?
Michael Berresse, the director of Analog and Vinyl, has wonderful dramaturgical skills. Since the Festival we have had several extensive note sessions and I have written two new drafts of the show and three new songs. We are still hard at work: tightening, refining, raising stakes and trying out some new ideas. The “essence” of the show remains unchanged, but improvements are on the way.
In the Festival, we mixed things up a bit and made “The Stranger” a woman (played by the wonderful Harriet Harris) when it had always been a man in previous readings. Have you settled on a preference of genders for “The Stranger”?
The idea of The Stranger being a woman was so well received at the Festival that we have decided that, at least for now, we’d like to continue with the character being female. It works either way, but there were some new discoveries we made when Harriet did the part that we’d like to keep intact in the script.
What are you hoping for next after Weston Playhouse?
Ideally we’d like to take the show into New York. We feel the themes of Analog and Vinyl are universal and contemporary. We hope the show’s esoteric humor and its indie rock score will appeal to a wide range of theater-goers. And we hope to offend EVERYONE with our irreverent take on spiritual themes often unexplored in rock musicals.
Why should people head up to beautiful scenic Vermont this June and July to see Analog and Vinyl?
Because this show, above all else, is FUN. If you learn anything from this show or if the show gives you insight or deeper understanding about how the universe works— that is purely accidental. We simply want you to see this show because we think you will have an amazingly good time. And you will laugh. And you might come home with a song or two stuck in your head and then illegally download songs from my website. And that would be fine.
For more information about Analog and Vinyl, please visit www.westonplayhouse.org.