An Interview with Producer Cathy Hirsch
by Fred Stuart for Theatrical Rights Worldwide
Omaha, Nebraska’s Candy Project, established in the winter of 2008, is a theatre company comprised of twenty-somethings bringing cutting-edge musical theatre to the prairie. Their next project is ROOMS: A ROCK ROMANCE, (music and lyrics by Paul Scott Goodman, book by Goodman & Miriam Gordon.)
The company has previously produced I LOVE YOU BECAUSE and [title of show]. The Candy Project has quickly become known for very high quality work in Omaha, which is home to a very hot local theatre scene. Their 2010 production of [title of show], the brilliant 2008 Broadway show, was called “can’t miss theatre” by the Omaha World Herald. 2009’s I LOVE YOU BECAUSE was similarly lauded by the World Herald: “(I LOVE YOU BECAUSE is)…the debut show of The Candy Project, a new troupe of 20-somethings who plan to showcase small musicals with young themes. If their next offering is as refreshing, sassy and well-sung as this one, The Candy Project is in business. I Love You Because … ranks with the best of a busy theatrical summer…” Clearly, the relatively new troupe is talented and forward-thinking.
I recently spoke with Candy producer Cathy Hirsch about their upcoming production of ROOMS: A ROCK ROMANCE.
FS: Hi Cathy. Thanks for taking a few minutes to talk to me today. I know you are busy with getting pre-production going for ROOMS. So, I’m very interested in your choice of ROOMS for Candy’s 2011 show. I saw the show in NYC at New World Stages and I fell in love with it. What drew you to the show?
CH: A couple of years ago I played a role locally in THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK THE MUSICAL that Leslie Kritzer had originated Off-Broadway. I loved her interpretation and since then have kept an eye on her work. ROOMS was attractive because of its small cast and rocking score. Our inaugural show was I LOVE YOU BECAUSE, also from the TRW catalogue, and we had such a great response to it I was happy to see ROOMS was also being licensed by the company. When I mentioned that it was on my “short list” of shows to pick from this year to one of the co-founders of The Candy Project, she really encouraged going with ROOMS having seen and loved the show Off-Broadway.
FS: How does ROOMS fit in with your mission at the Candy Project?
CH: Omaha is a very talented city, blessed with a wealth of live theatre. However, established houses with big budgets and big audiences also have to cater their seasons to their membership base. Newer musicals then also often need to be widely recognized in order to be considered for their seasons. Basically, there were all of these great shows out there that no one would touch because they were too edgy or the names weren’t recognized. The original founders of The Candy Project wanted to bring those shows to Omaha, appealing to a younger generation who maybe wouldn’t have otherwise considered themselves fans of musical theatre. ROOMS is new, edgy, smart and it rocks. It definitely fits our mission of captivating a young adult audience while bringing new musical theatre to Omaha.
FS: I think your comments are true for theatre communities across the country, Cathy. Kudos for doing these great new shows. So, does presenting rock ‘n roll in a theatre setting present any special challenges? Amplification issues?
CH: Certainly it does. We do not have our own space so we create theatre in non-traditional venues. While this presents additional challenges, we are also in the position to stage pieces in unique and creative ways. ROOMS is being held in an art gallery which is essentially one big, nearly empty room.
FS: Sounds very cool!
CH: Yeah, it works for this show in particular as it evokes a sort of “garage band” feel that mimics the root of early punk rock bands. The current plan (today… tomorrow things could change) is to present ROOMS in a unique format. Not quite theatre-in-the-round but where the “stage” area is down the middle of the building with the audience set up on either side of it. We’re still grappling with how to make this work with the placement of the band for the best sound to all audience members.
FS: Do you specifically seek out shows with small casts?
CH: Our first show had a cast of 6, followed by a cast of 4, and now we’re down to 2… at this rate we’ll have no cast at all for our next show! Yes, with our intimate spaces and small budget we pick shows with small, incredibly talented casts.
FS: What’s on the horizon for the Candy Project?
CH: We were invited to perform a one night only performance of Kooman + Dimond’s fantastic song cyle “Homemade Fusion” at the Omaha Playhouse as part of their 21 & Over series next May. At about that time we’ll be announcing our musical for next summer but the show hasn’t been decided on just yet. There are some fantastic shows on the list of possibilities! I’m very excited to see what we end up choosing next summer.
FS: Cathy, thanks a million for talking with me about ROOMS today. TRW is thrilled that the Candy Project is bringing ROOMS to life in Omaha!
CH: You are welcome!
ROOMS: A ROCK ROMANCE begins in late 1970’s Glasgow where Monica, an ambitious singer/songwriter meets Ian, a reclusive rocker. The two quickly become entangled creatively and romantically. Their music takes them first to London and ultimately to New York City, where they discover the vibrant new music scene and create an intimate partnership, their love deepening while their personalities drive them apart. A rock band accompanies these two characters as they search for the balance between ambition and happiness.
The Candy Project production will be held at the Bancroft Street Market, August 5-20th. Bailey Carlson and David Rubio will portray Monica and Ian respectively. The production is directed by Daena Schweiger with music direction by Zachary Peterson. The Production Stage Manager is Lisa McNeil.