Rain On The Parade is "an incendiary new musical" by local stars of drama, which follows the survivors of a theatre fire, as they attempt to remount a mysterious, potentially-cursed play. The theme: "In an uncertain world, how do we manage our dreams, our fears, and our deepest wishes?"
What's this new musical?
GARRY: It is a dark comedy about resisting the destructive forces that burn within us. It is about survivors and trauma, forgiveness and healing, and accepting loss and finding the beauty in the rubble. It is also a love letter to the theatre.
EVAN: Rain on the Parade is dark comedy (leaning heavily in both directions) that introduces us to The Chronus Theatre, a bizarre realm populated by nefarious administrators, otherworldly directors, befuddled stagehands and tortured thespians. After a play said to be cursed resurfaces, havoc is unleashed and nothing will be the same again. Also, there is singing. And an unhealthy fixation on spontaneous human combustion.
Is it based on a true story? What was the inspiration?
GARRY: This is for Evan to answer, since it is entirely his story. The story draws some inspiration from Hamlet, and there is of course historical precedent for theatre fires, such as the Iroquois Theatre in Chicago, which was, I believe, the deadliest single-building fire in U.S. history, resulting in 602 deaths.
EVAN: Not a true story at all. The original inspiration is hard to pin down. The pandemic? Climate change? Yes. Those things.
What was it like for you two to collaborate on this production?
GARRY: It wasn't an ideal situation, as circumstances required us to work apart for most of the process. Fortunately, we trust each other, and respect each other deeply. And Evan is a very good communicator. Collaborating was relatively easy – and joyous. I admire Evan greatly. His writing is funny, smart, densely packed, and deeply theatrical. It's also rich in subtext, allusion, and arresting language. For a lyricist, it is such a rich collaboration to work with a book writer who produces material that is as skillful and layered as Evan's is. And poignant. Evan's script was packed with opportunity for me, rich in suggestion: evolcative, specific, and deeply rooted in human relationships – not hallmark at all, but love put to the test. Real human experience: that's very singable. Evan writes with a sense of urgency, necessity; his characters are struggling, as we all are, to find love and resist the destructive forces that plague us and seek to destroy us.
EVAN: Challenging. Evan had not written a play in several years, so tackling a full length musical was a difficult, but rewarding process.
The Chronus Theatre: a bizarre realm populated by nefarious administrators, otherworldly directors, befuddled stagehands and tortured thespians.
Why is it specifically live theatre?
GARRY: Well, the subject matter is so heavy that it really has to be filled with some kind of levity. Musicals require a reason to sing. We cast amazing performers who love the genre. This love of the Theatre with all of its hardships and challenging personalities provided an emotional anchor of the show. All the characters share, on some level, this passion, this devotion for live theatre. It is not unlike religion. We congregate, we suspect our disbelief, and we will evangelize til the lights go out. Rain On the Parade is a story about the type of folks who run away to join the circus: they breathe and drink theatre. It's their air, their water. It is a testament to this ritual act of coming together – especially after a few years of necessary isolation, during which so many people, some of them theatre folk, felt deep despair, doubt, and fear.
EVAN: During the pandemic the loss of live performance not only deprived many of us of a living wage but called into question the very idea of gathering in public for any reason. While today it may seem obvious that we would find ourselves back to some degree of normalcy, no such guarantees were apparent 3 years ago. Rain on the Parade is a love letter to the medium of the theatre and strives to blend tragic and comic events together under an umbrella of prose and music. Also a few winks and nudges.
So: a play about the supernatural. Did any of that happen getting it ready?
GARRY: Haha! I haven't been able to be in the rehearsal room, sadly, as I was away, and am on another contract during production. I suppose the mysterious happening for me is not knowing what is happening!
EVAN: Only that it got off the ground at all.
Rain On The Parade runs at the Neptune Studio Theatre, June 21st-June25th, with free childcare available for all performances. There will also be a streamed performance on June 24th with captions. Tickets are available online on the Neptune Theatre website or at the Villans Theatre website.