Last month, we checked in with Angelica Chéri and Ross Baum about their 2018 Festival show Gun & Powder. The show is about to have its world premiere at Signature Theatre in Virginia
What did you discover about Gun & Powder after presenting it in the 2018 Festival, and what work have you done on the show since then?
Through our NAMT presentation we were able to hone in on the collective identity of our ensemble. Our initial approach had been to assemble a group of people who appeared to have some stake in the history of Mary & Martha Clarke, but they weren’t clearly defined. After the NAMT Festival, we chose to solidify our ensemble as a core group of ancestors, called the “Kinfolk,” ostensibly having a conversation around the family dinner table, letting the audience in on their intimate shared narrative. In January 2019 we spent two wonderful weeks at the Johnny Mercer Colony at Goodspeed, crafting these rewrites in preparation for our Signature production.
What have you been doing to prepare for the world premiere production, and what has your partnership with Signature looked like?
In addition to the Mercer Colony, we spent time working together in New York and Los Angeles—our two respective coasts—writing new songs, connecting ensemble moments with our new framework, fleshing out character arcs and incorporating other notes from our growing team of collaborators. Our partnership with Signature has been really exciting so far—they have been very supportive of our vision and helped us to assemble a dream cast and creative team. They’ve also included us in key conversations around marketing and context for the prominent messages of the show.
Tell us a little bit about the creative team that’s been put together for this world premiere, and what you are most looking forward to in the rehearsal process.
We have the brilliant Robert O’Hara (Slave Play, Bootycandy) as our director with choreography by Byron Easley (Slave Play), music direction by Darryl Ivey (Shuffle Along), set design by Jason Sherwood (Emmy winner for RENT: Live), costume design by Dede Ayite (Secret Life Of Bees, American Son), lighting design by Alex Jainchill (BLKS), and orchestrations by Tony-nominee John Clancy (Mean Girls, Fun Home) and Scott Wasserman (Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen).
We are most excited to see Gun & Powder come to life because we know it is going to be nothing like the versions we have envisioned in our heads for the past five years, especially with a creative team of such amazing artists. We are also thrilled to see what our fabulous cast is going to bring to the story because we will undoubtedly discover so much from this group of smart, talented actors. We are eager to see how the show will morph and grow in the bodies of living, breathing human beings.
What do you hope is next for the show, and how can NAMT members who are interested in its future development get involved now?
Our ultimate goal is to take the show to Broadway, and we have begun to assemble a powerful producing and general management team—some of whom we met directly through the NAMT Festival!—to help chart the journey. We would welcome the support of NAMT members who are interested in our show. Feel free to get in touch!
Why should people plan a visit to the DC area to check out the world premiere?
We were so delightfully overwhelmed by the outpouring of positive feedback from the NAMT community after our presentation and we would love the opportunity to share the full story with you all!
For more information about Gun & Powder, and to purchase tickets to the upcoming production, please visit the Signature Theatre website.