Podcast Episode 82: Paying Homage To Josephine Baker
One-woman show at Fringe focuses on legendary dancer, singer and activist
[[music] [00:00:00:0] Beth: Welcome back to another edition of the KPBS cinema junkie podcast, I’m Beth Accomando. When Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland got together in a movie to rally a group of kids together to put on a show well movie goers knew what was coming. “I’m going to write a show for us and put it on right here on sea point six around here I’ve ever seen. Only Michael and Max Gordon and Sam Harris make sure over how about it. We’ll get every kid in this town on our side, we’ll start right now what do you say? Right now.” Bethany: Mickey and Judy were geeks they’d be putting on a hobbits version of or Star Wars take of the phantom of the opera. Today I’m going to take you behind the scenes of a pair of geeky musical mashups from a group called TurningTides that will be putting on a pair of plays outside of Comicon next week. “The time for your training to end I say you are a Jedi. Master is Darth Vader true that my dad? Father he is him you are not. What does that mean for my complex character art?” Jamsey: Judy and Mickey and Playa and Luke the whole gang is here. Bethany: That’s Jamsey Beret theatre critic for the San Diego Union Tribune and is just one of the theatre critics charmed by the phantom of the empire. Jamsey: One thing that was really impressive because here you have shown that I think it is barely an hour long and it’s covering an entire three movie trilogy. How do you do that and that’s a lot of material and I thought that the lyrics really did a great job of referencing the things that you have to reference in a Star Wars related show. You gotyou’ve got obviously Darth Vader, you’ve got Lando Calversium. You have to sort of speed through all the plat points and all these character so it was clever in the way that the show found its path through all that material and still did justice to it without really skipping anything. Both to me both Star Wars and Phantom of the Opera are- they operate on such a heightened emotional level which is part of the point they are both operatic in their own way. So, I felt as though this piece really went for those big emotions but did it in a way that it was really- it was kind of poking fun but was also paying tribute to just how much the fans of those sort of obsessed about Star Wars and about Phantom of the Opera and how much they really love these two shows. Chris: The two things that they are actually mashing, they are above to balance and juggle enough of it so that we recognize it but also overlay music with it which is I don’t know if they realize how clever that is. Bethany: Chris Atlen is the theatre critic at San Diego Story. An online publication covering the arts in San Diego. Chris: They really could sing, no I think that’s probably where you have to draw the line is that you can only be so funny if you can’t sing well you can really start to wear on you after an hour but their singing was very good and so that was- made you love them even more. [singing] [00:03:25:6] Bethany: Howlingly funny I mean just don’t forget that I think I’d be fun really in any galaxy really. [singing] [00:03:48:7] Bethany: For this podcast I want to introduce you to Turning Tydes. I had the opportunity to see one of their productions at the Fringe festival last year. It was Lay Midge a mashup of the hobbits in Les Miserables. It was hilarious. [singing] [00:04:06:2] Bethany: Here’s my discussion with three of the key players of Turing Tydes I’ll let them introduce themselves. Summer: I’m Summer Blinco and I’m co-founder and marketing and administrative director for Turning Tydes. Shane: Shane Ruddick Allen, director of new project development for Turning Tydes. Jordan: Jordan Hall Campbell and I am the artist director and co-founder of Turning Tydes. Summer: We really started just a couple of years ago we started at fringe the first year with a show called Medusa’s Tail which is a radio show that we converted for the stage and this was before we were really a company. We all just kind of got a bunch of friends together and decided to throwit up there. Enjoyed it so much, as soon as fringe was over we started thinking what can we do next year and I knew my friends up in LA Erick Phillips and Robby Pierce had written a ten minutes sketch. They do sketch comedy of that IO west and it was a ten minute sketch they entitled Lay Midge which was they just rewrote like two of the songs and it was all making fun of the hobbit, the music of Lay Miss. Las Miserables. [music] [00:05:25:8] Summer: We’d all gone to college and they don’t- they talked about it for years and they finally made it somewhat of a reality so I reached out to them said hey how would you guys feel about lengthening this out, making it a show and we are going to take it to fringe next year. They were so awesome they jumped on board, we would throw them out. We need another song for the dwarfs, put it in a song get to us in a week. They are so great, we even threw one at them last minute. They wrote it, sent it to us the morning we were recording. We all learned it the morning we recorded and got it on the album. Then they have their own stuff Erich works at Netflix and Robby just got hired by a new press agency. So we they were kind of like sorry we’re busy. So we all looked at each other and we were like well we want to keep going. So Shane kind of had the idea, he was like we need to do something with Star Wars because that new Star Wars movie is coming out. All these ideas came out and finally he was like Phantom of the Empire and we just knew that it was going to be fantastic. [music] [00:06:47:7] Jordan: We all looked at Summer and said hey you write, you are in college you write papers and things and basically threw it at her and she had it written in two months. Summer: Three months. Jordan: Three months. We workshopped it for about- Summer: Four months. Jordan: Four months probably into the rehearsal process and then it all kind of came together and that was kind of our first attempt at writing. Lay Midge was our first attempt at doing the producer director side it of it but phantom was our first full group internal writing and all that and we couldn’t be more thrilled with the success that it got at Fringe. Bethany: Are you guys all performers outside of this? Do you work in theatre, what you do because you guys are like great voices? When you say something that’s it’s going to be this spoof on Star Wars using Phantom of the Opera or the spoof on the Hobbit you think maybe it’s going to be people who aren’t that well trained or something but you guys are. Shane: I’m a college graduate with a degree in theatre, many of the other people involved in this production are, and have degrees in it. Have studied theatre. We take a lot of pride in the quality of our performances. I think it would be easy for us to just go and present a mediocre product as far as the singing and as far as the music goes and just get people based on the funny costumes and the jokes and the recognition of like oh my God, Star Wars. I think we could have done just fine without putting as much work as we did into the singing but we are very, very serious about theatre we are all real performers I’ve working professionally. A few of us have workedprofessionally and we take a lot of pride in putting on something that not only looks great and makes people laugh but it sounds great and the lyrics are clever and they are actually well written and something that people will buy the cast album because it sounds great and it’s not- they are not going to listen to it and it’s just screaming and sounds like crap. That’s very important to us and I’m glad that people appreciated the work that we put in to making it sound as good as it looks and good as it makes people laugh. Jordan: We are just lucky that all these actors had decided to dedicate to these projects because like Shane said they all work elsewhere. I mean we all have day jobs and we are doing theatre elsewhere. I music direct and I also act in shows. Shane was in two shows during the course of this. Summer music direct she was in another show and half of our cast is in Patio play house is Beauty and the Beast right now. We’ve really lucked out and really we are lucky to have such talented actors because our rehearsal schedule is Saturday mornings from nine to noon, two if we’re lucky. We don’t even get weekdays, we’ve been working on this since January of this the rehearsal process started in January we do every other Saturday for about three months then it becomes every Saturday. [music] [00:10:14:5] Summer: The idea of is like he’s cool. He knows he’s cool but he’s also a douche and so people who don’t like effect like when he does he’s thing it’s just enough to make them go oh gosh here he is again. Like just enough of a douche that he’s not cool anymore. Jordan: We don’t have props, next week we’ll work on set changes with our new people. That will be our goal next week. We just need the millennium falcon. We are lucky that we have actors that are so talented and so dedicated that they really do all the work on their own and then we come and we just play with it and we turn it into what you get to see when we finally put it on stage. Summer: I’d like to piggyback what Shane said for me I wrote about 95- 90, 95% of the show with Jordan and Shane and while the content of the show is really important and we worked really hard on making it as good as it can be. For me I’m a singer first and foremost. Singing is what I do, it’s my passion and for me it was really important that the show sounded like something that was so polished and rehearsed and like we take this seriously even though we are doing ridiculous things. [music] [00:11:32:7] Jordan: This part of the comedy too is you are singing about these ridiculous things but it’s so serious and it’s like you can’tyour mind like can’t put the two things together it’s like they sound so good why are they singing about a death star. It that’s just position that I think just really hits home for a lot of people Bethany: You guys also nailed the trivia kind of aspect of this. I mean if you come to see this and you are a fan of Star Wars you will be satisfied that you guys know the materials. Were you- do you consider yourselves fans first? Jordan: Yeah absolutely we are fans, we’ve all been talked to people are like why you are doing that to Star Wars that’s blasphemy. Why would you want to do that and we are like you know what we love Star Wars. We are huge fans. It’s just because kind of pop culture phenomenon that just it survived for so long and when you take all the jokes that have been around for thirty years and you put them all together. It’s fun, it’s just sheer fun is what it is. We are huge fans of Star Wars. Summer: I mean we studied the movies, we had movie marathons with the entire cast where we looked at it and said what do we want to put in this of course with fringe we are a little limited. We only get an hour. There was a lot of stuff in there that we were like we need this. It’s so important if you understand Star Wars that we just had to let go so we can fit it into the hour. Jordan: I think it was like an hour and forty minutes when we started workshopping. We got about forty minutes of stuff. Summer: Then- so we reviewed the movies. I was a big fun of Wookiepediaand its where just everyone hasentered all the information they have on Star Wars. We also downloaded a dictionary of Star Wars insults so that we could be sure to use like insults that were used in the universe make its way into our show. Most of these like bucket heads and scruffy lookingnerph herders. Those are in the movies and so we make sure to find those. We weren’t making up our own insults. [music] [00:14:00:2] Jordan: Also things make it in there from other parts of the Star Wars universe. So somethings like great gobs of pantapoolu that literally a line from the Star Wars universe from one of the rebel one TV shows type deal. It’s not just the movies it’s kind of like all these other aspects that real die hard Star Wars fans may recognize from other places too. Bethany: I think you even pulled some lines from t-shirts. Jordan: We pulled from everywhere it was- we had a lot of fun doing all the research. Shane: It was very important to us to make sure that the show is accessible to people who are not very familiar with Star Wars and I know we had people in the audience who they saw it once when they were a kid or they’ve never seen it at all or they saw it casually they are not that into it. I think we did a great job of making a show that’s accessible and still funny and still cool and still enjoyable for people who aren’t deep into that universe but we wanted to throw those little extra things in for the Star Wars Super fans. Stuff that maybe there is even just going to be the one guy back in the corner who we drop one of those little obscured jokes and you hear him in the back-ha ha I get it. We know that there are those super fans. I mean obviously Star Wars is this incredibly pervasive cultural force that has this gigantic universe built around it and has been around for 40 years now. There are people who this is their entire life. There are people who Star Wars themed weddings, who name their kids after characters in the movie and for those people we wanted to make sure that to reach out to them and give them a shout out like here this one is for you. Bethany: Well the voices are all very polished, describe the look of the show because you guys have some fun with do it yourself props and costumes and things like that. Jordan: As the artistic director of the piece that was something that we wanted to bring over to the phantom because we are a very low budget theatre company. I mean it’sliterally run out of the pocket of SummerShane and I. That’s where our money comes from and obviously the people who come to see our shows thank you for supporting us. I kind of sit there and I look at the show and I’m like okay if I had to make the show out of only things I could find in my house what would I use? That’s where it starts and as we get some additional funds that’s where we get some of the nicer props but it literally starts from walk around my apartment. Okay we need a- what’s the- a death star what do we have? There is an exercise ball great, there we go and I throw it to Andrea and I’m like make this into a death star. I put a lot of trust on Patrick O’Connor and Andrea Pullem who are our props and costume people respectively and it’s so fun to see what they come up with because I’ll say okay we need X-wings. Show me what you got and then he- originally we were going to have like blow up kitty floaties and that kind of died so he shows up to our tech rehearsal with what you see in the show. The hand held X-wings and death stars which are made out of- Summer: The Tai fighters are child’s kickboards, phone kickboards on like milk shake straws and the X-wings I think are just Styrofoam pieces that he painted and they are in the shape of an X. it was genius. All the nice stuff you see in the show that looks little nicer that comes from our cast. Like they bought their own- we looked and we were like we can either spray-paint white t-shirts or you guys can buy storm trooper costumes that we found online. They are so great they are like we want to buy storm trooper costumes. They let us like cut them in- like the masks in half so it has the phantom of the opera. Everything low budget came from our apartments. Everything that looks a little nicer came from the actors themselves bruise that’s how much like they put faith into the piece. They know it’s going to do or they are not afraid to put their own money into it and that was. That was kind of an eye awakening thing for us that we were like we have something here. Like our actors believe in us and they are going to put money into our show as well. Shane: No one is listening the lights went off. We were very scared. Bethany: They are not going back on despite trying to get the motion detectors to recognize us. Shane: We have some mood lighting now some very deep sensual mood lighting. Jordan: The thing about costumes and props also something that we’ve talked about a lot is like where is that line between do it yourself because that’s the style we are going for and do it yourself because we don’t have money and the look is very comedic. We do things like the exercise death star and the kickboard Taifighters because they are funny. We do them to get on purpose to get a reaction to the, I can’t believe that just did that. Kind of a shock value so somethings are chosen like that. Bethany: Intentionally super silly. Jordan: With Lay Midge because we also Lay midge for Comicon with the make your own beards. I mean there are the things that our cast has come up with for making a beard because in the hobbit movie their beards are crazy. Their it looks like they spent hours and hours branding their beards into these crazy shapes. We wanted to kind of go for that feel but in a very do it yourself way to. Bethany: You also have a lovely Han and carbonite. Jordan: Oh yes that was I think our prop master said that is his favorite prop in the whole show is the cardboard cuts outs spray painted in chrome with the hand pop outs and you just see Andrew who is Han his face sticking out of a hole and he just kind of shuffles across the stage it’s really funny. Summer: That was one of my better idea because a lot of them went by the way side butthat one we kept so I was happy about that. Bethany: You also mentioned the death star but tell us what your death star actually is on stage? Jordan: Jake the guy who plays Darth Vader he was sitting outside of his porch I think he was just like having a beer or something and he looked at it and he was like they are saying they want an excessive ball and this one is silver. We literally gave it to Andrea like can you make this a death star. Its am exercise blow up ball. The first thing she does, she just pops it. We are like okay I hope this will work and then we looked at it and its actually pretty small so we looked around our cast and we were like Candice you are like the most petite person here you are the death star. It just so happens that she can dance on point. She’s a trained ballerina so we were like so that worked out conveniently. Literally Andrea cut a hole in the head and the arms and we just kind of like tugged in on over her and we were like okay it fits and so she went and she stuffed it and like lined it and I mean it’s a lot nicer than I thought it needed to be. Summer: It’s a t-shirt. Jordan: Yeah she just kind of kept sewing and stuffing and then we got our death star it was really funny. Bethany: Your death star is a ballerina out there. Jordan: On point. Summer: What’s funny is we went through so many ideas for the death star for like do we make it a card board cut out, do we make it a ball on a string, do we- Jordan: It was a piñata at one point that we were going to break open and have candy inside but we were like it takes so long to break it open we can’t do it. We went for the idea that had more movement and we wanted to make the death star a person that could actually die. It was something that we talked about in length and that’s the idea that ended up coming to fruition so I’m pretty happy with it. Summer: I’m happy with the way it ended up, originally it was going to be an actor in a white t-shirt that said I am the death star on it and we were just going to like mug it. Like everyone is going to beat him up like punching and kicking and then it kind of become more star wars we rounded it out and got our X-wings and Tai fighters and put her in an exercise ball death star suit so it really worked out. Shane: That scene because the destruction of the death star is such an iconic part of star wars is one of the mostwell-known climatic parts of the entire trilogy. [music] [00:22:11:2] We knew we needed to do justice to that in some way. Even though a lot of the show is very sort of DYI and going for a sort of casual ecstatic we knew this scene had to really do it. We had to respect our audience and give on something great and give them something cool for that scene and I love what we did with the death star and with the sort of black swan style ballerina death because I love that it’san homage to the phantom side of our show and we talked a lot about the Star Wars aspect but I think also we’ve done a lot to really give a shout out to the Phantom of the Opera and to honor the sort of ballet and operatic side of that I think was a really inspired mood and I hope that the audience felt like that gave them something to remember for the destruction of the death star. Bethany: Another nice edition I thought was the little three way bromance that you guys have between Han and Chewy and Lando. Who came up with that? Jordan: It was during one of our Star Wars marathons actually the girl who plays R2D2, Crystal Barren. She was there and we were watching it and I was taking furious notes okay we got to have this line in there somewhere and all this is a really good thing to make fun off. I was like I- we got to do something with Chewy and Han. I mean like it’s the ultimate- they are the ultimate bro team. I mean they are just like the best friends even especially in the new movie. It’s like they are together forever and she was like he’s kind of like the gay best friend. I was like light bulb and so I just ran with this. Before I really started writing anything and I just ran with it and I just kind of ended up with like they are bros to the end and then it’s like awkward because you meet like an ex of your- the guy that you like and then they show up and they are like super happy to see each other and you are just like this isn’t right I’m his best friend like I’m the one in his life now and then you breaks up the secret handshake. We got to give props to our actors on that one too the three of them Han,Lando and Chewy. Everything you see on stage we kind of gave them a little bit of characterdirectionally. This is kind of the relationship we are going for. They came up with the handshake, Robert is crazy good at his characterization and like we didn’t have to really give them any kind of direction as far as specifics. They just did it and that’s a real testament to the kind of people that we have in our cast too. Shane: Yeah I just I think that it gives a really funny new spin on how protective Chewy is of Han throughout the series. I feel like a lot of the- a lot of the humor and a lot of the jokes that we included about Star Wars are things that are going to be very familiar Star Wars fans. The storm troopers can’t shoot right and the ewoks are these ridiculously cute little teddy bears who are also like savage murderous villagers. I think we paid homage to a lot of like classic jokes and stuff that people have said over and over about Star Wars but that they are like Chewy is the gay best friend thing. I think that was like something that was really new and novel and original to us. I’m really proud of that. Bethany: You guys are planning to perform this during Comicon. What was the impetus behind this? How did this come up? Was it because you found a place to do it? Jordan: No actually we got approached by some of the people from fringe. From the Fringe Festival Team and they are like we’d really like to put a show in the Jeffery which is the fringe base during Comicon. The first thing that popped into our head was Lay Midge from last year. This was before- when was this like February January of this year. It was before we had even really started rehearsing for phantom. Phantom wasn’t really a thing yet, it was mostly going to be Lay Midge and as it kind of developed into this okay we will- I think we are actually going to do this. It was well why don’t we go ahead and do both. Phantom of the Empire seems pretty interesting too so why don’t you guys do both and so it just developed into this kind of double header- double trouble geek night if you will with Lay Midge at seven and Phantom of the Empire starting at 8:15 and you can buy the tickets to both. There are just one but buy tickets to both because they are both really great. Summer: What’s great about it is that it doesn’t require the Comicon badge so it’s accessible to anyone who is going to be in or around town during those dates. July 21st to July 24th. Bethany: You are also within walking distance from Comicon so people don’t actually have to re-park their cars or get out of the convention completely. Jordan: Yeah and we are also sharing the Spreckles space with ConanO’Brian. He does his Comicon late night in the theatre- the main stage of Spreckles. It’s kind of nice because we have all that right next to our too. We are hoping to have a few celebrity spottings. We’ll see what happens. Shane: We’re hoping Conan will just sort of drift over in a haze. He’ll be so busy and so stressed out that he’ll just end up in our space somehow and we’ll just won’t let him leave. If you are listening Conan we want you, we want you to see our show. I love you, I love you Conan. Come see my show Conan. Jordan: Not so subliminal messaging. Bethany: When you were writing both of these shows or working on both of these shows what was your goal in terms of the kind of humorbecause it feels like it comes from a place of affection for both the Hobbits and Star Wars. What was kind of the goals that you had in mind when you were starting to put these together? Summer: Speaking specifically about phantom since we wrote that in house. We wanted to build on the kind of success that Lay Midge had but also make it its own thing. We always worry about how to present something new and fresh and not just the same thing over and over again with a different story. I can’t really speak for the writers at Lay Midge but I know when we were producing it with their direction of course they were we were always constantly back and forth. Is really yeah from a place of love, from a place of affection. We love these things and we also want to give the audience a new perspective as well because the hobbits has been around for how many years? Jordan: It seems like forever but it’s really just recently with the movies thatit’s really become main stream, people it’s a household name you know who Bilbo Baggets is. [music] [00:29:13:3] With phantom of the empire with star wars. Star wars is a little bit more well known in relationship to how long it’s been around and you got to be careful with things that people love and people know and they are worldwide. [music] [00:29:47:4] We wanted to do the comedy in a way that really paid tribute to it but really gave afresh and new perspective on it. Summer: As the director of the piece the comedy that I really think that people get and that I like seeing in the show is jokes where they can go I have thought that same thing. So like for me a lot of and like especially in phantom we have some slap stick jokes that are like give to audience. We literally searched star wars memes and we are like what are things that people are currently in the media making fun of about star wars how can we bring that into our show. Like I don’t want it to be all of these epiphanies. Some of them we come up with on our own but I think the key mark comes from where people are like I watched that and I though the same exact thing. Why do Han and Chewy have the semi romantic relationship? What is that about and that’s kind of where I find the most humor in our shows. Bethany: Talk about how you mash it up with these well-known musicals too because you might not immediately think that the Hobbit and Lay Mis go together so. Shane: One of the things that I love about this whole musical movie mash up thing that we are doing is I do think that we are highlighting or sort of spotlighting these deep structural connections between the pieces that may not immediately be apparent to people when we were first presented with Lay midge it was such a profound moment for me to go yeah I mean. There are both about these sort of rag tag bands of adventurers joining together to stand up against this sort of very powerful, very sinister forces and I think that what makes Lay midge work so well. It is funny and it is clever but it also reveals something deep that is connected about those two pieces and with phantom of the empire we also wanted to spotlight how Star Wars and Phantom of the Opera are both. I mean George Lucas has always describedStar Wars as combination of a western and an opera in space and how it is it is this sort of very melodramatic story of good versus evil that sort of a to use a technical term they build on A coming of age story with a young man finding his own inner strength to arise up against the dark forces that are trying to corrupt him and triumphing over those and there is a very operatic structure and so I think it works great with the operatic nature of Phantom of the Opera and also the connection between Darth Vader and the Phantom. Both of these sort of tortured evil genius figures. Young and beautiful and talented in their youth they were corrupted and damaged both mentally and emotionally and also physically. [music] [00:32:56:6] I think there is a deep connection there that we explored and it may not come out through all of the jokes and the slap stick and the references but that’s something that to me animates our work in a way that I think for the real fans I hope that they got they got that connection somewhat and put that together. Summer: Initially when we were first bouncing around this idea before we had even put limmage up at fringe is when we kind of first came up with this idea. Was for me the big thing was this whole idea of a story about redemption and the unmasking of something because in both stories you have an unmasking of the mysterious figure and that to me was really important. I’m like you know these what makes it really jive is that kind of yeah it’s a mash up we don’t do too much of Phantom of the Opera. There is a couple nods if you are a Phantom of the Opera fan you’ll notice but the big thing is this kind of lining up similar story lines. We had bounced around the idea of doing it as like a three show installment for each movie because there is so much in each movie. Like we can do a different musical for each movie and because there have been shows at fringe where installments and you come back and you see all three parts. It was going to be a lot of work and when I kept coming back to was the unmasked Darth Vader in episode five and so but then the end of Phantom of the Opera is the unmasking. It all came back to we got to tell the one story. It’s a continuous story yeah they gone lots of different adventures. You just continue a story about redemption and unmasking of the mystery. Bethany: What has been kind of the biggest challenge on each of these show? What was kind of the thing that proved to be a big obstacle in each show? Jordan: The worry that it’s only funny to us. That’s always our biggest concern because we rehearse these for months and finallyit’s getting close and we are like okay we are not laughing in rehearsal anymore and we weren’t first and what’s going to happen and so we always go into our previews so stressed like what is no one laughs. What if nothing happens and even just our two minutes preview for fringe which is was a show a song that’s not in the show. We wrote it specifically for previews. The fact that we had people clapping and laughing and we are like okay it’s funny because that’s our end goal. Our end goal is to really have people different shows have different motivations and I’ve been somewhere its it needs to be cathartic and people need to feel something at the end and they might cry and that’s what we are going for. For me as a director with these shows there are always so many aspects and I like that people enjoy but for me is that I want the audience to have a fun time like we don’t take ourselves too seriously and we don’t want the audience to take the show too seriously. I mean we work really hard the acting and singing is great but it’s there so that people can laugh and just walk out of there being like I just had a great hour. That was so fun I’d like to come back and have another fun time. Shane: I’m sure for Summer writing the lyrics I’m sure was a beast and it’s incredible the work that she did. I guess on my end I sort of contributed more of how are we going to characterize certain characters and like having R2D2 as this sort of like obnoxious younger sister of C3PO riding around on a scooter. That was an idea that Summer and I kind of teamed up on. That’s the kind of thing is finding new takes on these characters. We didn’t want it to just be Andrew do your best Harrison Ford impression. We really wanted to make each of these characters totally new and keep something true about them from the films abut also have it be each one of us has our own unique really funny original take on the character. I think that’s always the biggest challenge is finding ways to take all established well known characters and make them new somehow but still make them recognizable. Summer: I thought it may have just been as big in my head as the main writer but was there was a workshoppingprocess. You start out with something that’s an hour half hour forty minutes long. You got to chop it down to an hour 50 minutes ideally so you have some time for things to go wrong. It’s like you love everything that’s in there it’s like all these things are really funny yes but do they contribute to the overall show are they only funny to the three people who get it. Are they going to be funny to the mass majority and that’s where the relationship that I have with Shaneand Jordan comes into play as production team as they take a look and it’s like that’s funny but it doesn’t really work or that shouldn’t be the focus like we are getting off on a tangent, like it’s not- also I’m a realbig stickler about making plot lines really clear as kind of a writer and I’m a big reader and so I’m like if a plot line is not clear it just detracts from it. People leave confused or like well I don’t really know how they got from point A to point B and then you know here like everybody knows Star Wars just throw it out we don’t need to tell them how that happened and I’m like no but there could be like ten people in the audience who have never seen Star Wars and I don’t want to leave them out. It’s finding that balance between everything and make sure we tell the story in a cohesive and digestible way. [music] [00:38:40:0] Bethany: Can each of you pick a favorite musical moment like a lyric or a song or something that you guys came up with in the music side of this that you’d like to highlight. Jordan: I’d say one just because of the way it come about is in we can’t aim we were recording it in the studio which is also Summer’s family room and we were just kind of singing along and then we get to the dance break so we are just kind of singing along and I was like what if all of a sudden C3PO just declares his love for R2D2 so out of nowhere Shane just threw out like this. [music] [00:40:17:0] Maybe it’s one of those things that’s only funny to us but that is probably just because it come out of nowhere we were in the studio room like sing it record it lay it down and it ended up I think being a really funny moment. Shane: I think my favorite part of the show becauseit’s really impressive to me is the intricate interlocking vocal lines that happen during the finale song the big confrontation betweenLuke and Vader and the emperor just because there is so much going on its really amazing how complex we were able to get these three characters interlocking these really cool sounding song. That’s actually that was one of the songs where our passed the point of no return which is probably my favorite song from Phantom of the Opera from Webbers original musical. We had to drastically shorten that ending number juts for time reasons but those who bought the CD or have heard the recording will actually hear I guess what has now become a bonus track because before we cut that we did record this full huge finale number past the point of no return into the song directly after it and I just I love how cool and complex and intricate that come out. [music] [00:41:35:8] Summer: I think my favorite part is the droid song which what we did was if you know Phantom of the Opera the two opera owners they are like some of favorite characters of Phantom of the Opera because they are just so funny. I mean they are on I mean they are like right in the middle of all of all these craziness that’s happening at the opera house and yet they really have no power to do anything like they don’t they can’t change what’s happening. They don’t really know exactly what’s going on but they are there and they are in it and they always have this great they have great songs. We took kind of the song if you are familiar with from the opera it’s the note song where they’ve gotten all these notes from the phantom and I took it and I wrote it as a- we call it nickname it the Jabba recap. Its C3PO and R2D2 singing about what went down at Jabba the Hut rescuing Han from the carbonite and I think it’s just my favorite thing not only because Shane and Crystal who play C3PO and R2D2 respectively do such a great job at just being so flabbergasted with everything that is happening and they are just along for the ride and they get like traded in and they didn’t know they were going to get traded in and it’s just, its mayhem and I think that’s just so fun that’s my favorite song. [music] [00:43:59:5] Bethany: You’ve got all these people coming out to Comicon, 125,000 people so how are you- how can you pitch this show to them? Why should people from Comicon take the time to come out and visit your show? Shane: It’s just a blastit’s got something for everybody, like I said earlier we were so committed to making sure that the nerds in the audience, the people who have spent their entire life loving that Star Wars and loving the Hobbit and absorbing all of the trivia and the little obscure of these universes. To have them come out and see those things sort of blown up into these big musical extravaganzas I think it’s going to be really satisfying and I think for a lot of people who go to Comicon who maybe would never go see a musical normally this would be a great way to appreciate what musical theatre has to offer but in a way that connects to the phantoms that they love the most. Come and see you never thought you’d see Chubbaka singing but now you can so do it. Jordan: I think why- I think it’s so unique there’s nothing there like that even one of our reviews from fringe said Turing Tydes has done it again for a second year how has no one ever thought of this. Mixing up like a blockbuster hit and a musical theatre Broadway hit into an hour long fun filled show full of just jokes and great music and great acting and it’s something that at this point hopefully no one steals our ideas that you can’t see it anywhere else. There is nothing else like this currently out there. Summer: I think if you really want the full Comicon experience you’ve got to take advantage of this crazy opportunity that we are giving all the Comicon people. I mean you go to Comicon all day and you are shopping around for the action figures and for the art and you are standing in line for hours and hours to see the panels and that’s all great I mean all super fun and who doesn’t want to see Harrison Ford at a panel talking about playing Han Solo that would be awesome I want to go someday. You step out of that and you want to be entertained. I feel like some you want to sit there and you want people to bring the comic and the geekiness to you and that’s what we are doing. You just have to show up at the theatre and we’ll bring you all of the geekiness you wanted all day. Bethany: Did you guys have to worry about any kind of copyright issues with this dare I ask? Jordan: Well as far as plot goes it’s all parody so that’s fine. We buy licensed karaoke tracks from like YouTube- not YouTubeiTunes. We don’t understand a lot of the legalities going into it but from what we look like as long as we purchase licensed tracks we’ve been told we are fine. Maybe we are just waiting for the day to cease and desist comes in the mail but until then it’s going to be a great ride and if anyone knows more about that give us a call. Summer: We are also very small and we don’t do a lot of in sales as far as CDs and things like that but we are pretty secure in our knowledge of the rules of parody so we are we feel pretty confident there. We are also as we get more support and become a little more successful at what we do we are hoping to just be able to move on and create our own music tracks and become really self-sufficientin house so that’s our goal. Bethany: I want to thank you all very much and can’t wait to see how this does at Comicon. Multiple Speakers:Thank you. [music] [00:47:57:0] Bethany: Thanks for listening to another edition of the KPBS cinema junkie podcast. The turning Tydes productions of Lay Midge and the phantom of the empire will be running at the Geoffrey off Broadwayin San Diego just outside of Comicon. The plays will be running in conjunction with each other and can be seen Wednesday through Sunday during Comiconbecause Comiconis coming up next week. I’m not sure when I’m going to get the next podcast out because I’ll be working the whole convention but please be patient and you can subscribe to the podcast oniTunes or you can go to KPBS.org/junkiepodcast. Again thanks for listening. [music] [00:48:39:7]
Since she was 17 years old Tymisha Harris has idolized legendary dancer, singer and activist Josephine Baker. Now she pays tribute to the first international black superstar in a one-woman show called "Josephine" at San Diego International Fringe Festival.
Harris and Michael Marinaccio have been nurturing this project along and debuted it at this year's San Diego International Fringe Festival. I was there at the first performance and the play got a resounding standing ovation that made Harris cry.
The play is set in a kind of imaginary boudoir of Baker and she casually and intimately discusses her life with the audience. She recalls growing up in St. Louis, escaping to Paris where she was embraced, dealing with racism and failure here in the United States, and ultimately returning home to acclaim and a new role as a civil rights activist.
The play also reveals that she was a spy for the French resistance and had information hidden in her undergarments. Harris' performance captures Baker's unique blend of sass, sweetness, sexiness and humor.
Harris and Marinaccio have researched Baker's life, so on this podcast I decided to take advantage of their presence here at Fringe to talk about Baker and pay homage to a woman that more people need to know about.