By Andrew Gans
09 Mar 2012
Fans of the witty, humorous and ultimately touching cult-hit musical [title of show], which debuted at The Vineyard in 2006 prior to its run on Broadway two years later, have reason to celebrate. The entire troupe of gifted artists who created, directed and/or starred in that intermissionless meta-musical are back with a brand-new production. Entitled Now. Here. This., the new musical work is currently making its world premiere at Off-Broadway's Vineyard, where it is in previews prior to an official opening March 28. Now. Here. This. has a book by Hunter Bell and Susan Blackwell, with music and lyrics by Jeff Bowen. It's based on a collaboration by Bell, Michael Berresse, Blackwell, Heidi Blickenstaff, Jeff Bowen and Larry Pressgrove and stars Bell, Blackwell, Blickenstaff and Bowen. Earlier this week, I had the great pleasure to chat with the wonderfully talented comedic actress Susan Blackwell, who engendered a devoted following during the Off-Broadway and subsequent Broadway productions of [title of show], which cast her as the equally wonderful and talented comedic actress "Susan." Blackwell spoke thoughtfully about her latest theatrical outing; that interview follows.
Question: Tell me a little bit about the genesis of Now. Here. This.
Susan Blackwell: All of this started when we were still doing [title of show], and we were asked to perform at benefits and one-offs, and we would write these very involved pieces for these fundraising events and appearances, and we liked them. Some of them we liked so much that we were looking to do a project that reflected some of that storytelling and performance style [from] those pieces. We workshopped the show a number of places. Hunter and I worked at the MacDowell Artists Colony. The whole lot of us went up to the 2009 Cabaret Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. We worked it out at places like Art Omi and the Weston Playhouse up in Vermont and, eventually, a lab here at the Vineyard Theatre last spring. And, that's where we find ourselves today. The most asked question is, "Is this a prequel or a sequel to [title of show]?" Actually, it has some of the sensibilities of [title of show], but it looks absolutely nothing like it. It is the same core of collaborators: myself, Hunter Bell, Jeff Bowen, Heidi Blickenstaff, Michael Berresse and Larry Pressgrove. So you'll see the same four monkeys jumping around on the stage, but it's very different. It's a very different animal.