The response was wonderful, and it actually brought the show to the attention of William Morris (now WME), who have represented it ever since.
What developmental work have you done on the show since it was at the NAMT Festival?
The show has had a production (at La Jolla Playhouse in 2005) and several developmental readings, based on what we learned and wanted to explore further in the show.
How has the show evolved in the years since the Festival, and what message does the show hold for audiences today?
The Fabulous Fitches was, in its original form, an homage to screwball Hollywood comedies of the 1930s, in the vein of Bringing Up Baby or My Man Godfrey. Over time, however, we realized that—while the screwball genre helped dictate the tone of the show—what we were really talking about was the American Dream: who gets to live it? And to whom is it denied? We began to ask ourselves, “Who really has a place at the American table?”. And then we put that question through the lens of a brisk 30s-style musical comedy, played very much for laughs.
What have been some of the joys and challenges for you as a writing team as the show has seen more development?
It’s always a joy to continue to have a relationship with a show that is so personal, for all three of us, and which is also the first thing we wrote as a team. The challenges have to do with the fact that the show isn’t really like a lot of other shows, and thus harder to “pitch”—it’s funny and accessible, but it’s political, too, and it doesn’t come with a pre-sold “name brand” which makes it immediately clear what to expect. On the other hand, that may prove one of its assets; it’s very much its own thing.
What would you like to see as a next step for the show?
The show imagines a tremendously wealthy titan of industry, who controls many brands, deciding to run for political office despite having no real qualifications other than his fame and money—seriously. So, despite the first draft being written several years ago, it’s become surprisingly (I’d even say shockingly) topical. It’s also about people thinking one group can lay exclusive claim to “real” American values; again, more topical than we ever imagined it would be by 2016. We had a wonderful developmental reading with Josh Prince directing this summer, and we’d like to find a home for a full production. It seems like the right time, to say the least.
Photo: Leo McKnight’s chorus girls (L-R: Taryn Darr, Jennifer Evans and Erica Piccininni) entertain the crowd in The Fabulous Fitches, the world premiere production at La Jolla Playhouse. Photo credit: Ken Howard