Review Fix chats with Writer Michael DiGaetano, who discusses the wild production and who will enjoy it the most.
About the Production:
In 2008, the Reverend Vernon Jackson, co-founder (with God) of RBN: Religious Broadcasting Network, held a telethon in Lynchburg Virginia to raise money to turn as many homosexuals straight by the rapture, or the 2014 Winter Olympics whichever came first.
He raised forty million dollars.
But after the election of Donald Trump and other political absurdities in the country, he is very … Very … VERY sorry. Find out why in this tart topical musical.
Michael DiGaetano spent twenty-five years in Los Angeles writing and producing TV and movies, including the film, Houseguest, starring Sinbad and Phil Hartman, and the TV remakes of Ferris Bueller and Get Smart. He realized just how much he missed NYC and his first love, live theatre, so here he is… musical in hand.
About the MITF:
The Midtown International Theatre Festival returns for another summer of quality stage works. New York’s oldest continuing theater festival will present 100 plays in 23 days.
One of the leading reasons to visit New York in the summer is the theater – from Shakespeare in the Park to the best of Broadway. New York is also known for its amazing theater festivals. This year, the venerable Midtown International Theatre Festival takes its place as the oldest continuing summer arts festival in New York. To usher in this honor, producer John Chatterton presents nearly 100 new and fascinating live stage works – plays, musicals, variety acts, short plays, solo projects, and so much more. Visit www.midtownfestival.org for further info.
Review Fix: What’s your creative process?
Michael DiGaetano: For me, it’s always the idea first. Then does the story work and are the characters relatable and believable.And of course, the big question is am I the only one interested in this idea or will an audience want to see it. Once I’ve answered those questions, my process becomes knowing exactly where I’m starting at page 1 to where I want to end up on the last page. If I was going to drive from LA to NYC, I’d better have some kind of route figured out, or it could take me a lot longer to get there. Not saying I wouldn’t take a side road if something looked interesting. But you have to know where you’re going to get there. So any new project involves hundreds of index cards taped to a wall, sometimes color coded for characters. Each card represents a scene or a turning point. I like writing complicated stories so most cards end up getting moved a lot until I’m ready to write. It’s also a fun way to see the progress as cards get eliminated. But the most important thing to me is write without restriction. If I have a 200 page first draft, I’ll cut it later.
Review Fix: What makes this different or special.
DiGaetano: Every writer has their own process. I know writers who only work overnight. I know some who can only work in a crowded environment like a Starbucks. I like to work at home with my wall of index cards staring me in the face. I pretty much have a set time I’m at my best, I usually don’t eat lunch because it tires me out. Sometimes, there’ll be a glass of wine or a bag of kettle chips. I do get easily distracted, so I don’t try to force myself to continue. I may talk a walk, or go on Facebook, and then return when I feel ready.
Review Fix: What did I learn about myself in the process?
DiGaetano: I learn the same thing I’ve learned every day since I started writing professionally. That is I have a lot to learn. Scenes or lines or jokes or even songs I think are great on Monday might end up deleted on Tuesday if I really stop to think about why they exist or if it’s the best I can do. I remember a long time back Woody Allen saying he cut what he felt was the best scene he had ever written from a script because it brought the film to a halt. I’m writing a musical at the moment and seven songs from the first draft, no longer are in the latest draft. You learn that no matter how much you love something, if it’s not working, it has to go…. I love rewriting more than writing.
Review Fix: How does it feel to be part of something like this?
DiGaetano: It’s exciting because unlike my long Hollywood career in TV and Film, this isn;t about making a million dollars or getting the highest rating. It’s about taking something from your head and seeing it on a stage. It’s also great for the process of writing. When I watch a TV show I wrote, I really have no idea how the audience at home is reacting. And a movie plays in 100 theatres, you don’t know how the reaction is in 999 of them. But a live audience is always the best and then after each performance, you can make changes, so the next performance is even better.
Review Fix: What are your ultimate goals for this production and the future?
DiGaetano: For the Gay No More Telethon: The Apology, it’s a concert presentation at 54 Below and then an off-broadway run at a place like St. Lukes or The Player’s Theatre. After that, I could see the show doing well in other cities, especially LA, San Francisco and London
Review Fix: What do I think the audience will enjoy most?
DiGaetano: I think the songs will be fun and the characters because everyone has seen the Jerry Lewis telethon at some point in their life and we generally didn’t believe what we were watching.
Review Fix: What’s Next?
DiGaetano: I’ve just finished writing a very large musical called Miss Humanity with my writing/composing partner Danny Lincoln and have started a second musical called “Rewind” which I can’t say what it’s about. I’m writing a relationship play called “If it get’s there” and reworking a Fringe Festival play I wrote with my friend Kevin Mahoney called “Sorority Queen in a Mobile Home. Also looking to set up a TV series called I Used To Be Joshua Fink. And I’m also about to enter the second year of the BMI Musical Theatre WorkShop. Yikes, I’m busy.
Patrick Hickey Jr.
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