Q&A: [title of show]
Adam Norrad and Bianca Heuvelmans talk about their roles in a new production of Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell's show-within-a-show at the Lower Ossington Theatre
It's hard to resist a musical about making a musical, especially for those of us who love the art form. This month, the award-winning [title of show], a one-act musical about two writers who have three weeks to enter their show in the New York Musical Theatre Festival, with music and lyrics by Jeff Bowen and book by Hunter Bell, opens at the Lower Ossington Theatre starring a cast of up-and-coming peformers including Forbes MacQuarrie as Hunter, Adam Norrad as his writing partner Jeff, and Michelle Nash and Bianca Heuvelmans as their singer friends Susan and Heidi (with David Ruggiero as the pianist Larry).
Here, we chat with co-producers and co-stars Norrad and Heuvelmans about their experiences working on this fun production.
Theatromania: What motivated you to produce this one-act musical with music and lyrics by Jeff Bowen and book by Hunter Bell at the Lower Ossington Theatre this February?
AN & BH: The show speaks to us! The trials and tribulations that Hunter and Jeff, along with their friends Susan and Heidi, have to endure to reach their goal, are relatable to every performer. We love how real the script is, how believable the plot is and how challenging the material is to keep casual yet captivating.
Theatromania: Tell us about the characters you play in [Title of Show]. Can you relate to them at all?
AN & BH: We have been laughing for days about this one, we aren't sure if the show was actually written especially for us. The similarities that all four characters have with their actors is uncanny - everything from Jeff's grammar Nazi ways to Heidi's constant vocal ad-libbing in musical numbers (not to mention both Heidi and Bianca have wholly unpronouncable last names, Blickenstaff and Heuvelmans). We all just jumped in, nothing is forced or unnatural because the characters and actors are so synergistic. It's really been a blast.
Theatromania: Would you say the musical is an accurate portrayal of the struggles artists face when trying to break
into the theatre industry?
AN & BH: Absolutely, there is a lot of hope off the top and a lot of fun, and then the "Nos" start coming, or the questioning. People want to stop you at every turn, and you start wondering why you even bother. And then you just keep going because you have to, it's in your very fibre. You have to perform, you have to do the thing that you love and that's exactly what this show is about.
Theatromania: What are some of the challenges you've encountered during the rehearsal process?
AN & BH: Well, we set a very high bar for ourselves, and the material is challenging in and of itself. The music is so modern and contemporary, the harmonies are close to impossible. There are a lot of very dissonant harmonies that wait until the last possible second to resolve themselves that have been so very hard to nail. Plus we're young and new to this side of things, but we figured out so much on the go. We have so much to be proud of, we're both wearing so many hats and things have come together very nicely, but they definitely didn't just fall into place. We've worked hard!
Theatromania: Do audiences need to be musical theatre insiders to "get" this show?
AN & BH: Absolutely not! The show makes a few obscure musical theatre references at the beginning, but the writing is smart enough to call itself out on it soon after, and that's the whole joke of it. It's very clever. We like to think that anyone who's ever seen a show ever will be entirely able to understand every word we say. That's been another challenge, making sure we do our jobs well enough to keep the audience in on all the jokes.
Theatromania: What's next for you two?
AN & BH: Honestly, everything. We both keep so busy, But we never know what we're going to be up to next. We live together and this is our third show we have worked on, so people can probably count on it being something together. We might have our eyes on doing Edges...
Catch Adam Norrad and Bianca Heuvelmans in [title of show] from February 8 to 17 at the Lower Ossington Theatre. Visit lowerossingtontheatre.com for more information and to buy tickets.