Broadway on the Web: Wesley Taylor and Mitchell Jarvis Prove That "It Could Be Worse" in Theatrical Web Series

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16 Sep 2013

Alison Fraser and Wesley Taylor
Alison Fraser and Wesley Taylor

The trials and tribulations of life in the world of theatre are being materialized on computer screens. In the three-part series "Broadway on the Web," Playbill.com profiles the theatrical-themed web series "It Could Be Worse," "City of Dreams" and "Submissions Only."

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Wesley Taylor and Mitchell Jarvis met in the original company of the 2009 Tony Award-nominated Best Musical Rock of Ages. Taylor, who appeared on the NBC musical drama "Smash," played Franz, and Jarvis, formerly of Broadway's Fiddler on the Roof, played Lonny. Before Taylor made a splash on television, the two were creating backstage "mock-umentaries" four years earlier.

"It was a creative way to stay fresh in [Rock of Ages'] long run and a kind of creative satisfaction when we were doing the show," explained Taylor. "We would just be making all these videos backstage — it kept it exciting."

The videos he referred to were "Rock of Ages Productions," a glimpse into the backstage life and drama of Broadway that they filmed at New World Stages, where the show opened Off-Broadway in 2008, and the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, where the production later transferred for its Broadway bow. (Click here to visit the RockofAgesProd YouTube page to watch the series.)

"Rock of Ages Productions" led to "Billy Green," the second web series featuring members of the Rock of Ages team and the Broadway community, in which Taylor (as frequent — and clueless — auditioner Billy Green) tries to make it big in the business.

Taylor and Jarvis decided to up the ante — purchasing a Canon Rebel T3i camera, editing with video software Final Cut Pro X and exploring the use of lighting and sound — to produce a pilot that they could shop around to various cable networks to bring their backstage shtick to a broader audience. "It Could Be Worse" — a comic series following Jacob Gordon (Taylor) as he navigates the world of Broadway, boyfriends and bad luck — hit the net (exclusively screening its first season on Playbill.com).

In the process of raising funds for their big screen dreams, Taylor and Jarvis began writing. "Mitch was like, 'Well, let's just start working. Let's just shoot a couple sketches in the meantime while we wait, right?' So, we shot the scene in the first episode in the bathroom — the ladies' bathroom sketch," said Taylor, who pulled from real-life situations. "It was something that happened to me in my personal life — a McDonald's audition, so the stakes were lower — but it was still like something that I will never forget… I [thought], 'We have to tell this story.'" The pilot of "It Could Be Worse" introduces Jacob (played by Wesley), who — at an audition — finds himself in desperate need of the bathroom.

The duo paired the bathroom sketch with their original idea — a pilot entitled "Veronica" (a character who is introduced later in the web series and played by Alison Fraser) — for the storyline.

"Once we linked that all together," said Jarvis, "we said, 'This is kind of a substantial little short.' And then the gears started turning, of course."

Watch the pilot below:



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