A hurricane is threatening to hit the small suburban town of Lawndale. What else do the frightened residents have to do but kick up their heels and sing? This would not be a completely bizarre plot for a musical (and lets face it, musical fans have seen bizarre), except that it involves one of MTV's longest running animated series, "Daria."
That's right, Daria! (The Musical) is hitting the MTV airwaves Feb. 17 at 10 PM. (And musical fans thought they'd seen it all with Carrie!). The musical will open the third season of the animated series. It will feature seven original songs with lyrics by Peter Elwell and "Daria's" co-creator Glen Eichler and music by Elias Associates.
So how did co-creator Eichler come up with the idea of Daria! The Musical? In a moment of madness, he confesses. "Really being involved in the process of a show does funny things to your mind," Eichler told Playbill On-Line (Feb. 12). "We've been talking about giving it a shot since about November of '97."
Eichler noted that the gestation period for Daria! was about the same as a real stage show. He admitted there was a lag period in the creation of the musical but said it was still a great experience.
The character of Daria made her first MTV appearance on their first cartoon series, Beavis and Butthead." "Daria was the smart girl on "Beavis and Butthead" who hung out with them because she knew it would irritate her parents," Eichler said. When MTV approached Eichler and his co-creator Susie Lewis about making Daria an entire series, the team jumped at the chance. The series of "Daria" premiered winter 1997 (ironically around the same time Eichler came up with the idea for Daria! (The Musical). The show chronicles the life of 16-year-old Daria Morgendorffer and her quest to simply be left alone.
Eichler's inspiration for "Daria" comes from his own high school memories and the unending saga of "dealing with people who have power over your life, yet are so much stupider than you."
There are high hopes riding on this musical extravaganza. Once the episode premieres, Eichler is sure producers will be interested in extending "Daria" into a television movie. "And, of course, I'm sure the Shuberts will knocking down our door," Eichler noted sarcastically.
Though Broadway is probably not in the future of the animated heroine who reinstated Doc Martins as a fashion statement, but the series has been renewed for another season. So it is evident that "Daria" will be with MTV into the new millennium.
Audiences can catch a sneak preview of the musical extravaganza during the "Daria Day" marathon airing Feb .15 beginning at 10 AM and running throughout the day. The marathon will highlight favorite shows from the first two seasons.
Other animated series that have gone the musical bent include "The Simpsons," which gathered enough of its musical numbers over the years to do an entire "clip show;" "Ren and Stimpy," and "South Park," whose most famous episode to date was a musical Christmas show.
-- By Becki Heller