Review Fix chats with the team behind the upcoming production of “Alien Coming,” Joe Kelly (book and lyrics) Jonathan “Lemon” Evans (music) Rachel Deutsch (director) Martavius Parrish (“Zooby Doober”) Maia Scalia (“Brandi”) Andrew Ricci (“Smib”) and Alice Kors (“Clementine”)
About the Production:
A new musical by Joe Kelly has landed! Aliens Coming will premiere at the People’s Improv Theater, 123 E 24th St, New York City, April 11 – 16.
Brandi has a problem.
She’s now under the mind-control of aliens from another planet intent on taking over our world! A pawn of their sinister designs, she delivers hypnotic propaganda in order to assist our future overlords in harvesting the genitals of the entire human race.
Joe Kelly mixes contemporary tunes with musical theater in an uproarious book with all the campy humor of ‘Evil Dead’ and ‘They Live’ to provide a wild night in the theater.
Look for more info on this hot ticket … and watch the skies!!!
Review Fix: What’s your creative process like?
Jonathan “Lemon” Evans: I like to look at each situation/plot point where a song would be and find out what the ‘soul’ or ‘style’ should be. I write very referential music, so it makes sense in my mind, for the music to reflect the style I think works best. For example, where there is tension and a bit of a fight, but also love and struggle, the most logical thing in my head is a tango.
Joe Kelly: The song stuff all came after the book was done. We knew what the songs needed to do but we didn’t write them till the book was finished. They really came to life with some beers and our little Yamaha keyboard. Me with the beer and Lem with the keyboard.
Evans: For music directing it’s a lot more thinking on my feet, changing/adapting to my singers and what sounds best in the room. A lot of the time they can come up with solutions better than what we originally wrote.
Rachel Deutsch: My creative process happens mostly in the room with many other creative people who help me make look good. Before rehearsals begin I try to have as many conversations as possible with the writer and composer. I want to hear how they envisioned moments happening and I like to listen to key emotional words, so I can transfer that vision to a stage picture. Once in the room, I love to see what actors do with the text before I add anything to it. I think there are a lot of ideas that actors have organically and I try to create a space where that is welcomed. Then we start playing and trying different ideas out with the staging and the language. It’s hard to go into a room with a specific idea of how things will look, that’s why I try to go in as open as possible and I like to see what everyone brings to it on that specific day. It always turns out better when the actors, choreographer, music director, and I are all working together to find the funniest and truest moments within the show.
Kelly: Yeah I think collaboration is so key- that goes for me as well. I wrote the first draft of this in September and I’ve been working with most of these guys since then. Maia, Alice, Rachel, Lemon. So through readings and workshops and all that you start to move towards something you could never have done on your own. But before any of that happens my process is pretty simple. I start with the characters then work out a story skeleton, just the basic arc, and then I fill it in with jokes and all that fun stuff. It’s a lonely process in the beginning. I read every line out loud alone in my room before I send it to anyone, like a maniac.
Review Fix: What makes this different or special?
Evans: It’s an interesting fusion of very outlandish and funny humor, with more down to earth songwriting that feels more grounded. I love the idea of a character singing graphically about sex, to a beautiful Elton John-esque ballad.
Kelly: We love Elton John.
Deutsch: I think you hit on what makes it special when asking how we are all from NYU — I think almost everyone involved is at a point in our creative careers where we were so ready to work and create, and Joe wrote this really fun script that resonated with all of us in such a specific way that we all want to bring ourselves fully to this project. I mean no we aren’t all aliens and after each other’s genitals all the time-
Evans: I was gonna say!
Deutsch: But the themes of losing your virginity, discovering space between you and your best friend, and trying to fit in with the cool kids — are all themes we feel and grapple with constantly. Aliens Coming provides a way to talk and figure out all those ideas while having so much fun! If anything I want the audience to feel how much of a good time these characters are all having and leave the space with that same feeling.
Kelly: I just think this show is unlike anything you could see on Broadway or off or off-off or- whatever. We put the entire thing together ourselves with our own money and friends and everything, and the result of that is a wholly original show that doesn’t answer to anyone. It’s just super fun.
Review Fix: What did you learn about yourself through this process?
Kelly: I can’t sing.
Alice Kors: Comedy is hard, dude! But making people laugh is the most rewarding feeling around!
Martavius: Sex is sexy. Villains are the most fun to play.
Maia Scalia: I learned that growing up on the Westside of LA rubbed off on me more than I originally had thought.
Andrew Ricci: I am not an alien to my friends. But I am a (legal) alien to the US department of homeland security.
Evans: I realized that I really love coming up with new ideas/flares in the room with the actors. There is only so much you can plan musically beforehand, but every cast member is different and with different talents. It’s fantastic to be able to adapt the structure we had to fit them personally
Review Fix: How does it feel to be a part of something like this?
Martavius: Exciting. New work is always exciting… or at least interesting. This piece is pure fun, so it’s always a great time getting to work with it and finding ways to make things just a bit more outrageous.
Kors: I am constantly inspired by the talent, drive, and passion of my peers. I can’t wait to work with them now & for years to come.
Deutsch: Being a part of Aliens Coming feels like what I wanted to come from college. I am so proud of amazed every day by everyone involved that we are making this happen. This didn’t exist before all of us and it changes and comes into existence every day. I think that is so cool.
Ricci: It’s an honor to be surrounded by remarkably talented artists. Each rehearsal I’m learning something new about the material, the art, and myself.
Scalia: It feels awesome honestly. The people I get to work with on this show, cast, and crew, are not only people that I hope to be life long collaborators, they have become my family and some of my most cherished friends
Evans: Amazing, it’s so collaborative and everyone has an opinion and something to contribute.
Review Fix: What are your ultimate goals for this production and for the future?
Evans: I would be thrilled to see it have an extended run, and maybe get picked up for a bunch more shows. I think it has the legs to do really well, and be very well liked
Deutsch: That’s what we’re all working towards.
Kelly: I want Kelsey Grammar to play Zooby Doober on Broadway. I say that out loud every night before I go to sleep. He can sing. It would be a smash hit.
Review Fix: What do you think your audiences will enjoy the most?
Martavius: The music. Out composer has written some real gems in a style that is so wonderfully refreshing and a bit different from anything I’ve seen utilized in musical theatre so far.
Deutsch: Sex. Alien makeup. The music! The cool art kids. Everything!
Kors: Probably the open, and frequent, usage of the term “sit on my face.”
Ricci: Vulgarity is inherently funny. They’ve done studies. That and two adults wearing the same outfit. Apparently, that’s one of the four funniest things that no matter where you are in the world, people will laugh at. Another is a brief acute fart in a quiet room.
Kelly: Two adults in matching outfits? Or sharing one big one?
Evans: I think one big one.
Kelly: That IS funny.
Evans: Yeah well- maybe I’m biased because of my role as music director and a composer, but I feel like that fusion of comedy and traditional song writing is one of its strongest features. I’d like to think everyone will walk out of the theater humming a hook while laughing to themselves about the words associated and the context it was in.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Martavius: Life, love and the pursuit of more projects.
Kors: I’ve been doing a lot of Pilates recently, so I’m hoping to get a six pack ASAP. I am also writing a pilot that I hope to put into production within the next year. Maybe a series of workout tapes?
Ricci: Broadway?! Lol Nah, deportation.
Evans: Yeah- man, I’d love to keep music directing and producing in New York.
Deutsch: Next is to keep creating! Just waiting for Joe to finish his next script…
Kelly: I’m writing a play called The Many Maias. Maia inspired it. It’s about what if there were many of her. Sort of. It’s still early in the process.
Scalia: Joe is exploiting the embarrassing stories of my childhood.
Kelly: That’s art baby!