This month, we caught up with Gordon Leary and Julia Meinwald, the writers of 2016 Festival show The Loneliest Girl in the World to chat about the work they’ve done on the show since the Festival, and to learn more about the show’s upcoming world premiere with NAMT member Diversionary Theatre. The upcoming production received a Production Grant from NAMT’s National Fund for New Musicals. Leary and Meinwald are also Festival alumni for their 2011 show Pregnancy Pact.
What was the post-Festival response to The Loneliest Girl in the World?
We had a wonderful response to the show both at and after the Festival. We started talking to Matt Morrow at Diversionary Theatre pretty soon afterwards and put the plans in place for our upcoming production!
Did presenting The Loneliest Girl in the World at the Festival help you discover anything new about the show? What work have you done on the show since then?
Our Festival presentation reminded us of the truly human-scale scope of our show, even amidst the gay rights history, all of the celebrity cameos, and the stylized theatricality. Our rewrites have focused mainly on strengthening the central relationship between Anita Bryant and the pie-throwing Tommy, including a brand new opening duet, although we also wrote a new Act II opening sequence featuring “The Anita Bryant Christmas Spectacular”!
The Loneliest Girl in the World is about to have its world premiere with Diversionary Theatre. What makes Diversionary a great partner for this next step in the show’s development?
Diversionary’s mission is to “provide an inspiring and thought provoking theatrical platform to explore complex and diverse LGBT stories, which influence the larger cultural discussion.” We couldn’t ask for a better first home for this show, which takes on this particular moment from the history of the gay rights movement at a time when the personal-political divide can sometimes feel insurmountable.
What do you hope is next for the show, and how can NAMT members who are interested in its future development get involved now?
We are very hopeful that we’ll get to take all that we will learn about the show over the next few months into a second production. Anyone interested in keeping tabs on the show can follow the production on Instagram—@theloneliestgirlintheworld—to stay caught up on the whole process. (With a lot of sunshine and sea lions thrown in!)
Why should people plan a visit to San Diego to see the upcoming production?
In addition to the sunshine and sea lions, we are thrilled to get to see the theatrical magic we’ve always imagined come to life. The production is bringing out the wonder and mischief and joy in the show. We’ve always said that the show lives six inches off the ground, and Matt and the whole team are taking that slightly-heightened style to heart. We would love to see you there and catch up over a slice… There’s even a pie shop down the street from the theater!