5 Reasons We Miss "[title of show]"

5 Reasons We Miss "[title of show]"

Erin Conley

- OnStage Los Angeles Columnit

Can you believe it's been 8 years since [title of show] opened on Broadway? This show will always have a special place in my heart, and I know I’m not the only theater lover to feel that way. Here’s a look at 5 reasons why.

It’s a musical made by theater fans for theater fans.

Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell, who wrote the music and book for [title of show], respectively, and also starred in it, are perhaps the biggest theater geeks out there (I mean that only as a compliment). As a result, their musical is chock full of references and name-checks dozens of other musicals and theater actors and actresses, some of whom “cameo” in the form of voicemail messages during the show. It’s a love letter to the entire theater community.

It defied the odds.

The concept behind [title of show] is incredibly meta. As Jeff says early in the show, “I’m writing a musical about two guys writing a musical about two guys writing a musical!” How often have we seen that onstage? Just as we see in the show, [title of show] was developed by Bowen and Bell to enter in the New York Musical Theater Festival in 2004. As the development process continued, the show evolved accordingly to document the changes that occurred, including the addition of Susan Blackwell and Heidi Blickenstaff to the cast. Thanks to an acclaimed OffBroadway run at the Vineyard Theatre in 2006, the show attracted a cult following. Against all odds, the show, which prides itself on consisting of “four chairs and a keyboard,” transferred to Broadway in 2008, where it ran for three months. While it may have been a short run, it was full of love from both audiences and the entire cast and creative team, who got to be “part of it all” just as they’d dreamed.

The [title of show] show.

The [title of show] team was among the first to truly take advantage of the web to promote the show and build their following. In a time before web series had really taken off, Bowen and Bell launched the [title of show] show video blog, on which they documented their efforts to move the show to Broadway. The hilarious inside look featured many cameos by Broadway stars such as Jonathan Groff, Nathan Lane, and Cheyenne Jackson (get outta here!) and kept the show’s fans up to speed with the team’s efforts to find a Broadway theater.

It’s a brutally honest inside look at the creative process.

In the song “An Original Musical,” Jeff battles writers’ block by conversing with his (very sassy) piece of blank paper. What writer can’t relate to that? Jeff and Hunter worry over the fact that their show doesn’t fit any of the categories suggested by the Festival, and Heidi and Susan initially clash before finally bonding over their status as “secondary characters.” All four experience serious insecurities, which only become magnified as the show gains some footing. They worry about the show being derivative, about their odds of succeeding without a bankable star, about if they can sing well enough to be in a musical, and about if they should continue making changes to the show. The four friends ultimately decide that staying true to their creation as well as to their friendship is the most important thing, and they choose to stand behind their intimate, non-commercial show as is because they’d “rather be nine people’s favorite thing than a hundred people’s ninth favorite thing.”

It has great messages about defeating your inner demons.

The song “Die, Vampire, Die!” is an ode to everyone who has ever struggled with following their dreams or feeling inadequate. The “vampires” in question are what Susan defines as “any person or thought or feeling that stands between you and your creative self expression.” The entire song, and really the entire show, is about learning to quiet those vampires and stop second guessing yourself. While [title of show] has been gone from Broadway for nearly 8 years now, the show is often produced regionally, allowing these amazing messages to live on. 

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