Tuesday, October 06, 2015

I Interview Playwrights Part 793: Michael Kimmel

Michael Kimmel

Hometown: West Chester, PA

Current Town: New York City

Q:  Tell me about Songbird.

A:  Songbird is based on The Seagull by Anton Chekhov and set in the singer/songwriter world of Nashville TN. It’s the examination of a community of people who can break a million hearts if they sing or play an instrument, but have an immense amount of trouble articulating feeling in their own lives.

It’s raucous and funny with some kick ass music.

And there is whiskey. Lot’s of whiskey.

(for them, not for us)

(mostly for them)

(ok... everyone gets whiskey)

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  Todd and Mitzy is my new play about a couple dealing with infertility, and the cost of trying to have a family.

Wildwood is a new musical, inspired by Tennessee Williams’ Sweet Bird Of Youth, and set in Wildwood, NJ, in the 1950’s.

#Untitledpopmusical is a show I’ve written with Drew Gasparini about the rise and fall of pop star Jenna Styles. All of these are coming to venues near you hopefully soon!

Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

A:  I think this might sum it up- When I was five, and visiting Disney World, I was extremely eager to meet Mickey Mouse. So, at the character breakfast one morning, Mickey walked in the room. I got so excited and worked up that I vomited. All over the place.

Do with that what you will.

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?

A:  I want everyone to come to the theater and fall in love with it the way I did as a kid. I want everyone to be able to escape and get lost in that dark room. I think that starts with arts education at the earliest level of school. We need to broaden and grow the next audiences and that’s two fold- One, putting every kind of story on a stage so that each person feels represented, and two, making sure kids get an appreciation of art and theater from the earliest age so it becomes a part of their lives.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Lauren Pritchard, Jv Mercanti, Kris Kukul, Allison Bressi, Diana Buckhantz, Andre Braugher, Eric Emch, Kate Baldwin, Erin Dilly, Adam Cochran, Ephie Aardema, Eric William Morris, Kacie Sheik, Drew McVety, Andy Taylor, Don Guillory, Bob Stillman, Brian Letchworth, Kristin Stowell, Jason Sherwood Mark Koss, Aaron Porter, Justin Stasiw, Samantha Shoffner, Lee Sunday Evans, Michelle Heller, Rose Riccardi, Shana Ferguson, Kathleen Hefferon, Scott Davis (AKA, every single person killing themselves to bring Songbird to life)

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I truly love when people take something known and adapt it so that it becomes brand new and fresh again. It’s so tricky and hard and so wonderful when it works. I also love when someone makes me cry in the theater. (this is a relatively new development, and could also relate directly to the childhood story answer).

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  Get in the room. Look at everyone around you. If you consider yourself the smartest person there, you are in the wrong room.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Songbird runs October 20 thru Nov. 29th at 59E59. www.songbirdoffbroadway.com.

Look for Todd and Mitzy later this year.

And you can find me on twitter at @mkimml

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