The Interview: Tom D’Angora and A Musical About Star Wars
Interview conducted by Michael Raver
The landscape of musical theater has become increasingly more commercial in the last several years. This season alone, announcements of adaptations of films (Beetlejuice, Tootsie), pop singers’ catalogues (The Cher Show, Jagged Little Pill) and even adaptations of adaptations (Frozen) have flooded midtown venues en masse. Director Tom D’Angora, who has had a series of hit musicals over the last several years (Naked Boys Singing, The Marvelous Wonderettes) at The Kirk at Theatre Row has taken his cue from this trend…but with a cheeky twist.
Rather than placing the focus on adaptation, D’Angora’s interest lies with fandom. Namely for one of history’s most explosive franchises, Star Wars. As with that other Star-series, the fans of George Lucas’ landmark saga bear a very special kind of infatuation, one that, D’Angora believes is not to be mocked. At least, not all the time.
How did the concept of this show come to be?
One of the co-writers, Scott Foster, was also in another show of mine NEWSical and had written a rap about Star Wars super fans and asked if we could try it out in NEWSical. I agreed and the number KILLED. It got me thinking that a whole show based on that concept might work. The fandom of Star Wars fascinated me as a topic. I loved it growing up in the 80s and 90s. Scott is a superfan, and brought in another NEWSical alumni/Star Wars super fan, Taylor Crousore, to write it with us. Within a year, we were in front of an audience.
What was the most challenging part of putting the piece together?
Figuring out what material to use and what to cut. We wrote a lot of fun sketches that didn’t make the cut, and our composer, Billy Recce, wrote some awesome songs that didn’t make it in. The cannon is so huge and we only have so much time on stage. We had to pick and choose. Hopefully, we chose wisely and the fans feel well-represented.
How important are the songs to the story in STAR WARS?
The songs in the show are more about why Star Wars is awesome, than about the plot of the films. We realized early in the process that most people coming to the show know what Star Wars is about. So we made a huge effort to make sure none of the show reads like a wikipedia page. I think/hope we achieved that goal. I think the songs are hilarious and Billy did an amazing job.
What about choreography?
The choreography is so fun. My resident choreographer, Alex Ringler, who has choreographed all my shows, put so much thought into what these characters would dance like and what their take on musical theater dancing would be. It is ridiculous in all the right ways.
What is it about Theatre Row that felt right for the WONDERETTES, NAKED BOYS, and now for A MUSICAL ABOUT STAR WARS?
It was available when we needed a space nine years ago. Since moving in, my shows have been hits, so we have been blessed in never having to leave. I’m hoping we will need a larger venue for this show eventually (knock wood).
What do you wish more actors knew?
I think a lot of actors don’t realize that most of the time not booking a job has nothing to do with their ability. Just the circumstances surrounding that job.
What do you ideally look for in an actor?
A great work ethic, a good attitude, and a sense of humor. Life is too short we must enjoy it and enjoy the company we keep… and I do.
How would you describe a director’s job?
He or she needs to do all that they can to make everyone look good and to make the evening flow well.
What do you want the audience to feel by the end?
I just want them to have a great time and I want the fans to feel like they were well represented.
Rehearsal or performance?
First show you ever saw?
A Chorus Line (tour)
Most recent show you saw?
A Musical About Star Wars
Play/musical you directed that changed your approach to theatre?
Naked Boys Singing!
Play/musical you haven’t directed yet but want to?
A Hillary Clinton bio
A MUSICAL ABOUT STAR WARS is now in previews at The Kirk Theatre at Theatre Row.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.AMusicalAboutStarWars.com