This month, we checked in with Robert Taylor and Richard Oberacker about a new version of their 2005 Festival show Ace, which recently had a staged concert production at The Nevada Conservatory Theatre after a few years of revisions. We also chatted with Ace director David H. Bell (below writers’ interview).
Set in 1964, ACE follows the journey of twenty-one-year-old Danny Lucas returning home to discover the truth about his mother’s hidden past. The unexpected appearance of a grandmother he never knew existed leads to an emotional battle over the legacy of Danny’s real father. Uncovering a saga spanning three generations of Ace fighter pilots through two World Wars, this original musical explores the trials and triumphs of a family in search of true heroism.
Ace had quite the extraordinary trajectory right after the 2005 Festival with a handful of full productions starting in 2006 leading up to a production at The Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA. But this was a unique situation where you went in to rehearsals for a full production without ever really having done a reading or a workshop. What did you learn about the show as you worked your way through the multiple productions?
We learned that the core story of the three generations of this American family and the score they sang resonated deeply with audiences. We also learned that the central character was entirely passive with no control over his destiny and without true stakes or even an identifiable antagonist. And we learned that the majority of the first act was expositional and that the stories of the past didn’t arise organically from the present. Perhaps the most striking thing we discovered was that by deciding to have a lead character who was a child, it demanded there be a host of other ancillary characters to provide the realistic infrastructure for a child’s needs which naturally confused and diffused our central story.