INSIDE THE 2015 FESTIVAL: Six Degrees of Theater People

A guest post from Michael Federico, librettist of this year’s show On the Eve, written with Seth Magill and Shawn Magill.

on the eve
Seth Magill, Shawn Magill and Michael Federico.

Through the development of On the Eve, Seth, Shawn, and I have always been heavily involved in the casting process. The original staged reading, the first production, and the professional world premiere were filled with some of our favorite actors in Dallas (or anywhere else, for that matter), many of whom performed in the show in all of its iterations. That means we worked with some of the cast for almost four years. They helped the show evolve, and they took on all of the changes that came their way. As a writer, it was an absolute luxury to have such talented people helping shape the characters as we moved from one version to the next.

With this as part of the show’s history, NAMT presented an entirely new experience as far as casting On the Eve goes—it would be the first time that actors who don’t know us and whom we’ve not had the opportunity to see perform would be taking on these roles. It’s been an exciting step for us, and we’ve been incredibly lucky to have people like director Sam Buntrock; consultants Stephanie Cowan and Lee Trull, and NAMT’s Branden Huldeen; and everyone at the festival leading the way through the casting process. The show can be a bit of a hybrid of styles, both in terms of music and acting, so it has led to a search for rock stars, musical theater powerhouses, and perhaps the slightly unhinged. We couldn’t be more ecstatic about the results of that search and about the ridiculously talented people NAMT has brought on board to be a part of On the Eve. And, in a bit of a bizarre coincidence (or a bold act of Fate, whichever you choose to believe), the NAMT cast shares, through a series of connections, a direct link to our original production in Dallas.

Will Connolly, who plays Joseph in On the Eve, came to Dallas to work on the Dallas Theater Center’s production of his brilliant musical Fly By Night. Dallas actor Alex Organ was part of that cast of Fly By Night. Alex is our friend and also happens to be married to fellow Dallas actor Jenny Ledel, who played the role of Simone (Joseph’s wife) from the first living room read-through of On the Eve through all of its subsequent Dallas productions.

For some reason, that connection (though it might seem small to some), means a lot to us. Throughout the development of On the Eve, we have been so lucky to have people (directors, actors, designers) come on board that just seem to be the perfect fit for the show. We’re thrilled to be coming to New York, and we’re thrilled to be a part of NAMT, but it’s still nice to have some link (even if it’s a couple of degrees) to the productions back home.

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