[title of show] is a musical with music and lyrics by Jeff Bowen and a book by Hunter Bell. The musical documents its own creation by two Broadway fans, who want to enter the New York Musical Theatre Festival and struggle to complete the show in three and a half weeks, and their two actress friends. The actors are also the writers and characters of the musical.
[title of show] began its life in 2004 at the New York Musical Theatre Festival in New York City. It then ran off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre in 2006. It opened at Broadway's Lyceum Theatre on July 17, 2008 after 13 previews beginning July 5, 2008. The writer-stars, Bowen and Bell, as well as director Michael Berresse all won Obie Awards for their work on the off-Broadway production. The musical has spawned a recurring video blog about the show's journey to Broadway called The [title of show] show. The show will close October 12, 2008 after playing 13 previews and 102 performances.
Bowen and Bell, determined to write an original musical rather than adapt a play or movie to be a musical, discovered almost immediately that their conversations about what to write were more interesting than the ideas they were coming up with for an original show. As the idea to document the creation of the creation of the show itself became clearer (or as the show states, "a musical about two guys writing a musical about two guys writing a musical"), after the show was accepted into the festival, Bell and Bowen expanded the script based on their writing experiences with friends Susan Blackwell and Heidi Blickenstaff. [title of show] has since become a classic post-modern work-in-progress, with updates and changes reflecting the circumstances the cast and the show have experienced, added or modified to the show, with each new production. Larry Pressgrove, the musical director for [title of show] since its inception, is also credited with contributing to Bowen's score throughout the process.
The production premiered at the 2004 New York Musical Theatre Festival on September 22, 2004 (also produced by Camien), at the Belt Theatre, and ran for six performances. According to director Michael Berresse in an interview with Downstage Center XM20 on Broadway Radio in August, 2008, Fernandez accepted several job offers (including the understudy role to Beth Leavel in the soon to be Tony nominated Broadway production of The Drowsy Chaperone), and was unable to play and develop the role of Stacia for the Festival productions. Heidi Blickenstaff was brought in to play the role of Stacia for the Festival performances. In all productions following the Festival performances, the character of Stacia was rewritten to be for and about the character/persona of Heidi and Blickenstaff's experiences while helping expand and create the show.
Even as early as the New York Music Theatre Festival, the "two nobodies" Bowen and Bell, were connected well enough to fortunately get help from some Broadway A listers by having them leave recorded phone messages as part of a recurring plot device (i.e. rejecting Bell and Bowen's offers to star in their show). Phone messages left by Broadway stars in the Festival performances included Idina Menzel, Marin Mazzie, Sutton Foster and Emily Skinner. Kevin McCollum, the producer of Tony Award winners Rent and Avenue Q, eventually picked up the option for [title of show] after seeing it performed at the New York Musical Theatre Festival.
Changes to the book also included the addition of the conflict between Susan and Heidi (as introduced by "What Kind of Girl Is She?"), as well as the combined music and scenes "Awkward Photo Shoot", and "Change It, Don't Change It". Both added the tension to the book between and among the cast that had begun to set in since the Fetival's performance and their still uncertain, off-Broadway runs. Phone messages in the Ars Nova productions were left by Marin Mazzie and Emily Skinner again, with new messages from Amy Spanger and Victoria Clark.
[title of show] was performed at the Vineyard Theatre from February 26, 2006 to April 24, 2006 as part of their regular season line-up. However, before the end of the run, The Vineyard announced a commericial run/extension of the production that returned the cast to the Vineyard from July 14, 2006 through October 1, 2006, with McCollum continuing as lead producer. Christine Ebersole lended her voice as one of the phone messages left in the Vineyard productions.
The Vineyard production of [title of show] won three Obie Award Special Citations for its writer/stars and its director. A performance was scheduled to play in San Francisco in 2008 but was canceled because of time constraints in moving the show to Broadway by July 2008. The show's journey to the "Great White Way" can be found on "the [title of show] show" video blogs on YouTube and on the show's official web site.
Note: Larry Pressgrove, who arranged the music and is the musical director, also has several lines in the show while at the on-stage keyboard as Larry.
For both the 2006 off-Broadway production and 2008 Broadway production, the standbys are:
The show also features prerecorded vocal cameo appearances by several well-known Broadway actors, playing themselves, including: Kerry Butler, Marin Mazzie, Victoria Clark, Christine Ebersole, Sutton Foster, Patti LuPone, and Emily Skinner.
The two men get their friends Susan and Heidi to agree to help with the project, but later both men are suffering from writer's block again and need the help of the girls, acting as voices in the guys' heads, in order to come up with something ("Monkeys and Playbills"). The group gets more and more excited, especially when they start thinking about the possibility of one day winning a Tony ("The Tony Award Song")—until Jeff reminds Hunter, who is singing, that they've cut that number from the show. Jeff and Hunter talk about how much they want to be able to write and compose for a living ("Part Of It All").
Later, Jeff is testing out some Heidi songs ("I Am Playing Me"), while Susan and Hunter talk about the show and "little meteors". But Susan and Heidi have been feeling awkward toward each other and ask Hunter and Jeff, respectively, "What Kind Of Girl Is She?" Hunter and Jeff continue writing, but they're getting more and more discouraged: What were they thinking? Will they even finish? Susan tells them that they need to not let the "vampires" get in the way of their creative freedom ("Die, Vampire, Die!"). Feeling reenergized, the men finish the show and call the women over to help them fill out the submissions form for the festival ("Filling Out The Form"), deciding on [title of show] as a name. But, "What if they don't pick it?" asks one of them. Another responds: "Well, that'll be Act 2."
Their little three-week musical is chosen! It is now September, during the festival, as the four talk about their six performances and about not wanting it to end ("September Song"). On the last day, they are talking together—"We did it!"—and Hunter and Jeff mention that there were "fancy industry people" in the audience. They go back out to schmooze, leaving Heidi and Susan, who reconcile their differences and bond over the shared role of "Secondary Characters". The musical is even sent to the Eugene O'Neill Center for development.
Then, things begin to fall apart at a rapid pace. Either Hunter or Jeff (whose answering machine it is, is never established), who has been receiving voicemail throughout the show from several leading ladies declining offers for them to star in the show, gets a voice message from Sutton Foster saying that she would love to be a part of the musical. As the four friends are discussing which parts of the show need to stay and which need to go ("Change It/Don't Change It"), Hunter suggests that they have Sutton Foster play Heidi's role, as she has recently been offered a part in another project. All four are frustrated with each other, and finally everything boils over at a press photo shoot ("Awkward Photo Shoot"). Heidi is upset that Hunter wants to replace her, Susan is wondering about profit-sharing, Jeff is getting more and more uncomfortable, and Hunter lashes out at all of them. They all leave in a huff.
That night, Hunter calls Jeff and apologizes: "You know how when you're sick, you want to throw up and you keep going, don't throw up... and then you do and you go, I feel better now, why didn't I do that sooner? ...I'm just sorry I threw up on you guys." They discuss stories from when they were smaller, with Susan coming over and joining them, while Heidi sings about how much this experience has meant to her and about wanting to find "A Way Back To Then".
Finally, all the edits are finished, and the four are no longer angry at each other. But, will their show be a success? They really want it to be something great, but ultimately, all agree that they'd toss hundreds of fans saying "well, it was pretty good" in a heartbeat for the chance to be "Nine People's Favorite Thing". The show is drawing to a close. "Let's just put it out there and see what happens," one of them says... and the show ends ("Finale").
Two of the songs are not on the cast recording:
There are two bonus tracks on the recording:
The [title of show] show is a video blog created by the creators of [title of show]. These blog videos document the musical's journey to Broadway. Many guest actors appear on the [title of show] show, including Barrett Foa, Sean Palmer, Sierra Boggess (The Little Mermaid), Lin-Manuel Miranda, Kerry Butler, Lea Michele, Gideon Glick, Jonathan Groff, Ann Harada, Michael Berresse (director of [title of show] and the "secret weapon" of the [title of show] show), and Cheyenne Jackson.
Episode 1: Untitled Pilot Episode
Jeff and Hunter, appearing largely in character, excitedly announce that [title of show] is going to Broadway. This episode is also set the precedent for future episodes such as Jeff wearing his costume from the original off-Broadway production and Hunter generally wearing a promotional shirt from a random Broadway show. It also chronicles the creation of the [title of show] show and includes clips of Jeff composing the musical theme of the show at the piano.
Episode 2: Two Nobodies Look For a Theatre
Split into two parts, Jeff and Hunter begin the search for a Broadway theatre, hence Jeff's creation of the [TOS]ability Board. Susan also checks in from her dressing room on the set of Law & Order making her first appearance on the show. After performing a fully unprepared search for a theater on foot in Shubert Alley. Upon returning to the apartment, Heidi messages Hunter and Jeff on iChat and recommends that the group take the show out of town for a try out before mounting a Broadway production.
This episode also introduced the concept of the duct tape motif of all [title of show] publicity as well as the first playing of the opening sequence Jeff began composing in Episode 1.
Episode 3: It's an Original Musical
This episode begins in the tradition of the [title of show] self-aware nature and immediately exposes the back stage conversations of the actors after filming Episode 2.
Hunter and Jeff begin to wonder if people will understand what [title of show] is. Susan, who has apparently been in the room during the filming of Episode 2, has prepared a comedic video spoof of a 1980s instructional video that explains what [title of show] is. This video marks the first appearance of Larry Pressgrove as Constantine, a co-worker in the office of Jim and Barry who are inconsistently played by Hunter and Jeff.
The instructional video is interrupted so Jeff can update the [TOS]ability Board. Also, Jeff introduces his [title of show] Showcial Network Chart which records the status of [title of show] on Broadwayworld.com's Showcial Network. Hunter also introduces his own chart aptly named "Hunter's Chart of Jeff's Charts.
Episode 4: There's a Monkey in My Playbill
Hunter and Jeff begin perusing a gift bag from "Broadway on Broadway" and decide to go to the annual Broadway Flea Market. While Jeff shows his new Playbills for his collection to Susan, Heidi arrives at the apartment. After a quick joyous reunion, the group decides to hit the town "Heidi-Style." During a montage of the day, Jeff updates the [TOS]ability Board. After a long day, Jeff, Hunter, Heidi and Susan relax and imagine how [title of show] could play in different cities throughout the country in a series of television show spoofs.
In this episode Jeff is seen for the first time out of costume.
Episode 5: Part of It Y'All
In the t[tos]s writers room, Hunter, Jeff, Heidi, Susan and Larry sit around a table and discuss what Episode 5 will be about. A running gag in the scene is that every time the city [title of show] will be playing in is said, a sound effect blocks out the name of the city thus keeping the audience in suspense. It is decided that parodies and spoofs are some of the best ways to create exposure for [title of show]. The discussion is interrupted by Jeff who updates the Showcial Network Chart which is further interrupted by Hunter spoofing the YouTube video Leave Britney Alone. Jeff also interrupts his own sequence to update the [TOS]ability Board -- which is again interrupted by Hunter who parodies the YouTube video of Miss Teen South Carolina.
Heidi enters the scene and accidentally mentions that the out of town tryout will take place in San Francisco.
Susan then confesses to the audience directly that the reason the city the out of town tryout had not yet been revealed is that there is no finished deal set in stone.
Episode 6: We Are Playing We
Hunter and Jeff consider that should [title of show] become a Broadway hit, they would need to cast replacements for the original cast on whom the characters in the show are based upon.
A musical sequence begins in which many Broadway stars sing a refrain from the show. Further, several stars also play Hunter and Jeff in brief sequences that interrupt the musical number. Jeff also introduces his new chart, Jeff's Playbill Needs, which lists Playbills he needs for his collection of Broadway flop playbils. Hunter, played by Ann Harada interrupts, to add this to chart to Hunter's Chart of Jeff's Charts.
Episode 7: What Kind of Show is She?
After agreeing on no more cameos via phone, Hunter and Jeff, agree to no more cameos and prepare to meet at a planned press conference. Hunter then has the responsibility of telling Cheyenne Jackson that he is no longer in the show. Jackson, enraged, exits the room in a fit.
Heidi and Susan then begin a fake press conference that parodies the news crawl and logo of CNN. Jeff arrives late to the conference and announces there will be no pre-Broadway tryout and the show will be sent directly to Broadway.
Back in the apartment, Jeff and Hunter draw attention to the fact that they have previously implied the out of town tryout would be in San Francisco. It is revealed that the tryout was canceled due to timing issues. Jeff updates the [TOS]ability Board and notes that every Broadway theatre is booked for the season but they are still hopeful to arrive on Broadway in the spring of 2008.
Episode 8: It's Time Vampire, It's Time
Unlike episodes 1-7, this episode features no introduction to remind the audience where the show last left off though the show's theme is still played at the beginning. Rather, it begins with the ending credits and rolls from the end to the beginning. A baton-like relay race is held by the cast of [title of show] involving a mysterious package that his been delivered to Jeff. Over twenty minutes earlier, Susan hands the package to Jeff who quickly runs through Times Square to the Lyceum Theatre or possibly The Producing Office to view its contents. Over thirty minutes earlier, Mindy gives Susan the package who runs to give it to Jeff, but on the way is attacked by ninjas. After a fierce battle, Susan defeats each one and finds that one is Spring Awakening star Jonathan Groff. After finding that Groff cannot get her tickets, she kills him and finishes her trip the restaurant where she proceeds to eat and forget about giving Jeff the package. Nearly 40 minutes earlier, Larry gives Mindy singing lessons for a back-up vocal part in "Die, Vampire, Die" when a dog, Olive, gives him the package which he immediately gives to Mindy for delivery. Mindy runs through the streets of New York where he collides with Broadway's Cheyenne Jackson. Quickly avoiding Jackson, Mindy delivers the package to Susan. One hour earlier, Heidi sits in her dressing room preparing for a performance of The Little Mermaid. Hunter arrives out of breath and gives Heidi the package which she ties onto Alive's collar. Olive runs down the sidewalk to Larry's apartment building where she runs into John Tartaglia in the elevator. Not caring what Tartaglia has to say, Olive leaves the elevator and quickly delivers the package to Larry. Thirty-five minutes earlier, Hunter sits at his breakfast table when he suddenly gets dressed and retrieves the package from a shoebox in his kitchen. He runs into midtown New York City passing actor Barrett Foa on the way to Heidi's dressing room. Twenty minutes earlier, Hunter stretches outside of his apartment building and brings in the newspaper. While reading the newspaper, Hunter sees that the New York Times has announced [title of show] is going to Broadway. He retrieves the shoebox which is revealed to be labeled "in case of [broadway] open." The entire sequence of events is played forwards very quickly and Jeff opens the package which contains the [title of show] sticker for his [TOS]ability board. The cast gathers around to see that the show will be playing at the Lyceum Theatre beginning on July 5th. The closing credits announce the dates and ticket availability for the Broadway production and asks the viewer to "tell 9 people" in a reference to the song "Nine People's Favorite Thing.
Jeff is working in his kitchen getting ready for Broadway when Hunter calls him where they tease one another about their success. In discussing American Idol they realize they have yet to film a new episode of The [title of show] show. Hunter reminds Jeff that they have already agreed to thirteen episodes despite Jeff's criticisms.
The rest of the episode consists of Hunter and Jeff giddily explaining what the cast has been doing since the debut of Episode 8. In addition to rehearsals, the cast has been hosting the Drama Desk Awards and modeling in photo shoots for show promotion. Hunter jokes that the show has already won Tony Awards despite that it has not yet opened on Broadway. Jeff and Hunter then teleport to the Lyceum Theatre where the new marquee for the show is being hung over the street. After watching the marquee being hung, Larry, Susan and Heidi are all summoned to 45th street. However, when the group tries to enter the theater they realize they are locked out as the Broadway revival of Macbeth is still striking. The group returns to the apartment where they giddily continue to plan for the upcoming Broadway production. They also proceed to graciously thank their fans for their support over the past four years.
Talkes about them being on Broadway. Many stars come and ask for Mindy... Mindy Gets Shot!
Hunter, Susan, Heidi and Jeff reminisce and celebrate the Christmas spirit. This episode introduced the puppets Grampa and Mindy played by Paul McGinnis and Matt Vogel, respectively. Further, Cheyenne Jackson makes his first of several appearances on the show. Rather than focusing on mounting [title of show] on Broadway, the show is a series of comedic skits and musical numbers.
This includes the puppets on the show getting drunk, references to old fashioned Christmas specials and an original claymation. Hunter and Jeff also take the time to thank the fans for their continuing support and wish their viewers a merry Christmas.
Extra: Snake Eats Tail
Beginning with a series of phone calls happening simultaneously between Hunter and Jeff, this episode explains what is termed the "snakeeatstailness" of [title of show] The video is an explanation of how the show chronicles its own creation continuously such that it encompasses a cyclical pattern explained as ouroboros, a Greek term for this pattern. The video also links to additional videos on the [title of show] website and features special guest stars.
Four Members of "Show Out" Crew Sentenced to Prison Terms for Series of Assaults -Group Targeted Victims in Chinatown and Other Areas-
May 10, 2013; WASHINGTON, DC -- The following information was released by the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia:...
Two Leaders of "Show Out" Crew Sentenced to More Than 10 Years in Prison for Series of Assaults Four Others Earlier Sentenced; Group Targeted Victims in Chinatown and Other Areas
May 24, 2013; WASHINGTON, DC -- The following information was released by the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia: Two...