This month, we caught up with Scotty Arnold and Alana Jacoby, the writers of 2016 Festival show When We’re Gone (fka Mortality Play), to check in with them before the show’s world premiere at NAMT member Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma this fall. The production is funded in part by a grant from the National Fund for New Musicals. You can also check out a video fo Scotty and Alana talking about what they love about NAMT on YouTube!
What was the response to When We’re Gone, known at the time as Mortality Play, like after the 2016 Festival?
We had some great conversations and came out with an amazing list of industry folk with interest both in the piece and in us as writers. This ranged from commercial producers interested in building long-term relationships to theater companies interested in putting on the show, which thankfully is happening next month at Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma!
Did presenting When We’re Gone at the Festival help you discover anything new about the show?
One of the things that we love about the NAMT Festival is that it knows really firmly what it is. We had some fantastic talks before rehearsals with our director, MD and advisors about the show—what it was, who it appeals to, and how to present it in the most flattering way possible. We rewrote the music for one song and tweaked a few lyrics, but we knew going in that the Festival was more about showcasing the material in the best light than rewriting or discovering. Knowing that took the pressure off of our writer brains for those few days and we were able to focus on how to make sure our 45 minutes rocked.
When We’re Gone is about to have its world premiere with Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma. What makes Lyric a great partner for this next step in the show’s development?
Michael Baron is the Artistic Director there, and has been involved with NAMT for many years. We’re so thankful to have found each other through the NAMT Festival. Michael is passionate about the piece, and knows what it is to put on a new musical. It’s so different than putting on a new play or a musical revival, and Michael has been fantastic about keeping the focus of the world premiere on how to tell the story and bring the script and score to life as simply and purely as possible, without putting any outside concept on the show. We think that’s so important, and we can’t wait to get in the room with him in a couple of weeks!
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’re so thrilled to finally see the piece on its feet after years of dreaming about it. At the end of the day, we write to share our humanity with other people, and we hope that the piece will be able to be shared with many more people—be that through more regional interest, something commercial, or digitally through a cast album or video. We’ll continue to learn about the piece throughout the process, and we hope anyone interested will get a chance to check out what we’re cooking up in OKC this fall, and talk with us about any future opportunities that might be right for When We’re Gone!
Why should people plan a visit to Oklahoma to see the upcoming production?
The seed of this show is about asking how to justify art in a world that’s falling apart, and we don’t think the timing of its premiere is an accident. We can’t wait to see this mashup of a rock concert and a morality play live and breathe onstage. Our cast is outstanding, including a couple of our favorite NYC performers joining an amazingly talented bunch of Oklahomans. Being in a room where these top-notch people are telling a story and making music together is going to be a pretty thrilling experience, and we hope that everyone interested can come witness that first-hand.
For more information about When We’re Gone and tickets to the show, visit Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma’s website.