FWD‘s Megan O’Toole and Madison Kennedy interviewed Allan Rice, Ben Green, and Greg Edwards, the talented writers of FWD’s next staged reading, Neurosis, about their work, new musical theatre, and their excitement about working with FWD.
--MK: Where are you from?
Originally, Allan is from Los Angeles, Ben from Boston, and Greg from Northern California. Nowadays, Allan still lives in Los Angeles whereas Ben and Greg fled to New York. This may or may not be indicative of their relationships with their parents.
For the first year and a half, we collaborated together without ever being in the same room. (Thank you, Alexander Graham Bell!) But now we've seen each other and the mystery is over. It was a lot of buildup for nothing.
--MK: When were you first introduced to musical theatre?/What made you want to go into musical theatre?
ALLAN: I was involved in it a little bit in high school, but before I got into the world of musicals, I had really only seen four or five in my life. I have always loved the format and the idea that you can sing about problems instead of panicking about them.
GREG: When I was in kindergarten, my mom brought home a highlights album of The Phantom of the Opera, and I promptly became obsessed. This dashed her hopes of ever having a daughter-in-law.
BEN: Hey, I actually liked Phantom of the Opera too... in first grade I was obsessed with trying to put on a production of it among my classmates. I remembering thinking the biggest barrier would be trying to read the four flats in the key signature in one of the charts from the vocal selections.
Nowadays, in addition to writing musicals, Allan writes for TV. Ben and Greg work at Facebook and Google, respectively, making them the only song writing team that also knows all your personal information.
--MK: What are some of your favorite projects you've worked on? Why?
Sometimes, projects just "go right." In the case of Neurosis, song after song and scene after scene fell into place without the expected levels of sweat and homicide. Within 18 months of collaborating on the show, we'd been offered our first professional production. That doesn't really happen in real life, but it turns out "real life" doesn't apply to upstate New York.
--MK: What about FWD Theatre Project attracted you?/What made you want to apply?
Since our upstate production, we've heavily revised the show, and we wanted a chance to see the new draft on its feet and/or atop a music stand. FWD Theatre Project provided the perfect opportunity for this, and their enthusiastic team and focus on collaboration sealed the deal.
--MK: Where did the idea for Neurosis come from? Did the book come first or the music or lyrics? Is it based on real life?
Well, they say write what you know.
The backstory: Allan had come to Ben and Greg with a draft, and they saw potential (and, ideally, a merchandising deal). Since then, we've all been very involved in crafting and refining the story. It's helped that we're very similar in our neuroses -- we mostly agree on all the things to fear in life.
--MK: Do you think it's challenging to create new musical theatre?/Do you think there's a good support system for new musical theatre? Why or why not?
It's super easy! That's why everyone is doing it, right?
It is absolutely challenging to create new musical theatre. A musical is a complex storytelling machine, and if the smallest piece is out of place, the whole thing can go down in flames. (In this sense, musicals are a lot like hoverboards.)
However, even though writing a show is difficult, the reward of seeing it all come together outweighs the sweat, tears, insomnia, heart conditions, and other industrial by-products of the creative process.
In terms of support systems, we writers depend on theatre companies that put up new works. Such companies are few and far between, so when we cross paths with the likes of FWD or the Merry-Go-Round (where we had our first production), we get all giddy-like.
--MK: What sets Neurosis apart from other musicals?
Truthfulness, we hope. When you see these awkward, funny people and how they relate to their awkward, funny selves, we want you to think, "Oh, I've done that!" or "Oh, a trenchant analysis of the human condition!" By the time you leave the theatre, we promise you'll have a new way of looking at yourself. And a ticket is a lot cheaper than therapy.
--MK: What do you hope to get out of FWD's staged reading of Neurosis?/Where would you like to see Neurosis go?
We'd love to see how our latest draft works in front of an audience. And if said audience laughs loudly and frequently, we won't complain.
Ultimately, we're working toward a production in (downstate) New York, and this reading at the FWD will help us ensure we're shipshape as we approach that milestone.
--MK: Do you have any plans to write more new musicals in the future?
We do. In fact, we are. We're still figuring out what exactly the show is about, but we're thinking a hip-hop retelling of the life and times of Alexander Hamilton. Or maybe something about theme parks.