PLAYBILL PLAYLIST: "Dead Sexy Songs" from Matt Doyle, Allison Scagliotti and Cast of Off-Broadway's Jasper in Deadland

By Michael Gioia
March 12, 2014

Ryan Scott Oliver and Hunter Foster's Jasper in Deadland — a new musical that follows 16-year-old Jasper as he journeys into the afterlife to save his best friend — will begin performances March 16 at the West End Theatre in the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew. In anticipation of the New York premiere, members of the cast share "Dead Sexy Songs" as part of this week's Playbill Playlist.



Prospect Theater Company will present the musical, which features Matt Doyle (The Book of Mormon), Allison Scagliotti (Off-Broadway debut, SyFy's "Warehouse 13") as Gretchen and Ben Crawford (Big Fish, Shrek The Musical) as Mr. Lethe.

Rounding out the cast are Andi Alhadeff, Leo Ash Evens (Jesus Christ Superstar), Danyel Fulton, F. Michael Haynie (Wicked), John-Michael Lyles and Bonnie Milligan, who will portray a pantheon of characters from the underworld. 

Brandon Ivie (assistant director of Broadway's A Christmas Story, The Musical and First Date) helms Jasper, which features a score by Oliver and a book by Oliver and Foster. Lorin Latarro (Waiting For Godot and Scandalous) choreographs.

Opening night is set for March 26 for a run through April 13.

Here's how Jasper in Deadland is billed: "In this original musical, 16-year-old Jasper journeys through the Afterlife on a mission to save his best friend, Agnes. On his thrill-ride through a hybrid underworld, Jasper encounters demons, gods, mortals and monsters from Greek, Egyptian, Roman, and Norse mythology, learning what it means to die and questioning what it means to live."

Other members of the creative team include Tony-nominated costume designer Bobby Pearce, scenic designer Patrick Rizzotti, lighting designer Herrick Goldman and sound designer Ed Chapman. Ryan Fielding Garrett will serve as musical director, and vocal arrangements and orchestrations are by Oliver.

Jasper in Deadland was originally commissioned in 2011 by the Pasadena Musical Theatre Program. It has received subsequent developmental readings through Pace University and the York Theatre Company's NEO Reading Series, as well as a recent one-night concert presentation at 54 Below as part of RSO FEST. Read the recap of RSO FEST here.

Oliver is the recipient of both the Jonathan Larson Award as well as a Richard Rodgers Award for musical theatre. Read more about his work in Playbill.com's Contemporary Musical Theatre Songwriters You Should Know.

Foster has previously written the books to four musicals, including the Outer Critics Circle-nominated Summer of '42 and the upcoming Circus in Winter. He is a Tony nominee for his performance in Little Shop of Horrors and can be seen in the new Broadway musical The Bridges of Madison County.

Prospect Theater Company is under the direction of artistic director Cara Reichel and managing director Melissa Huber.

The West End Theatre in the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew is located at 263 West 86th Street. For more information and tickets, call (212) 352-3101 or visit ProspectTheater.org.

Matt Doyle: "They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back from the Dead!! Ahhhh!!" (Sufjan Stevens). Yes. That is the whole title. It's one spooky, sexy and brilliant song. I love the way it builds, the amazing bass line in the beginning, the back up vocals and those ridiculous strings. It's kind of funny.

Allison Scagliotti: "Baby I Call Hell" (Deap Vally). This is like asking a librarian to pick a favorite book. So many options… Two hot chicks from San Fernando Valley making demands and growling about the pain of being in love. Cuts right to my blues-soaked soul. Makes me wanna writhe around Deadland in my daisy dukes.

Allison Scagliotti: "Road to Hell" (Sleigh Bells). Alexis Krauss sighing to her beloved about taking a break from his friends if he ever expects to see them again. "Don't run away from me, just go away from me baby." Agnes is definitely a fan of Sleigh Bells.

Sleigh Bells - Road To Hell from Turner_poetry on Vimeo.

Allison Scagliotti: "Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell" (Iggy and the Stooges). Classic. The explanation is in the title.

Ryan Scott Oliver: "Dead" (My Chemical Romance). This punk shuffle served as inspiration for the show's opening number. In conceiving a show about the afterlife, which needed to be handled with a light touch, comedy and just the right amount of hellfire, punk seems a useful tool. It's dangerous but always smiling.

Ryan Scott Oliver: "Tightrope" (Walk the Moon). This isn't so much dead as it is sexy… And hey, walking tightropes is awfully dangerous? I love the theatrical nature of this video and how it looks like everyone is just having a pile of fun — much like the cast of Jasper in Deadland. Check us out, yo! March 16-April 13!

Leo Ash Evens: "Grenade" (Bruno Mars). "I would for die for you baby… But you won't do the same!" Bruno — sexy man — I would die for you. -Leo Ash Evens.

Leo Ash Evens: "Thriller" (Michael Jackson). Best video of all time. King of pop.

Ben Crawford: "Helena" (My Chemical Romance). When my little bro passed away his friends brought this song to my attention. While I think it's more about a love between a couple, there's lyrics that really touched me when thinking of my brother.

"Can you hear me?
Are you near me?
Can we pretend
To leave? And then
We'll meet again
When both our cars collide."

Powerful song in a trying time.

Bonnie Milligan: "Make Me Wanna Die" (The Pretty Reckless). Yes, that's Jenny from "Gossip Girl." Yes, it's slightly ridiculous. Yes, I love it.

Bonnie Milligan: "Show Me Heaven." (Tina Arena). I live for Tina Arena. Her songs always take me back to a very special 1990's place. You are welcome. :)

F. Michael Haynie: "Thriller" (Michael Jackson). I mean, if we're gonna talk about "Dead Sexy" songs, there is no better example than this zombie-dancing, monster hit. Not to mention that it's thumbprint is soundly atop everything "dead" to this day.

F. Michael Haynie: "If It Kills Me" (Jason Mraz). Yeah, I know, "he's being hyperbolic," but I think it's the sentiment that counts. When emotion hits such a peak that death is a penalty you would be willing to pay, you've gotten to the sexy side of death. Also I "die" every time I hear this song. Heartbreaking.

John-Michael Lyles: "Bottom of the River" (Delta Rae). "Drive your son like a railroad spike into the water, let it pull him under. Don't you lift him, let him drown alive. The good Lord speaks like a rolling thunder." Well. That's one way to go. Luckily my parents never got a hold of this song… However, I am very glad that Andrea Ross did!