nytheatre.com q&a preview by Dan Martin
July 4, 2013
What is your job on this show?
What is your show about?
Marry Harry is a romantic musical comedy about Little Harry - an almost-30 aspiring chef trapped working for his Dad at their failing East Village restaurant - and Sherri - the almost-30 daughter of his overbearing landlord - who struggle to create love and family on their own terms.
Are there boundaries as to what kind of theatre you will take part in?
For most of my creative life I've written songs and created dance, theatre and performance pieces exploring and expressing my identity as a gay man. When Michael Biello (my life partner and writing partner) and I were contacted by Jennifer Robbins (Marry Harry's book writer) to take a look at her screenplay and consider turning it into a musical we needed to decide if we wanted to cross the boundary that would have us spend years writing songs for a NOT gay project. Ultimately we said yes because we loved the characters - and because of course to struggle and to love is a universal and human thing. But it was a big step to take after decades of commitment to telling queer tales. A boundary that I probably will chose never to cross would be to work on a project that is overwhelmingly violent or negative in tone.
What are some of your previous theater credits? (Be specific! Name shows, etc.)
Michael and I wrote and performed several "performance-art musicals" in the early 1990's including "Homo Love Song" and "Human Being". In 1996 we wrote "Fairytales" which was later re-named "Breathe" and has been performed in many U.S. cities including Chicago where it won the 1999 After Dark Award. It's a cycle of 7 musical stories about LGBTQ relationships and families. Our musical revue "Q" has been performed in Chicago and Philly. Our musical "The Cousins Grimm" had a reading at NYMF in 2007 and then a workshop at The O'Neill and a production in Chicago in 2009. Over the past 4 years in addition to working on "Marry Harry" we've been writing a concept musical about body image called "In My Body" as well as re-visiting "Breathe" which had a reading at The York in November 2012.
Is there a particular moment in this show that you really love or look forward to? Without giving away surprises, what happens in that moment and why does it jazz you?
We created a performance-art character named Ping who is the show's antagonist. When she appears in a NYC subway car she starts a process that messes up everyone's plans and forces them to rethink their lives - a good thing! Ping is the only character in Marry Harry who doesn't sing - she speaks her lyrics in rhythm over very lush music. She's especially fun partly because she's inspired by our performance-art history - and mostly because she's being played in this production by the amazing real life performance-artist Kate Rigg.
Groucho, Chico, Harpo, or Zeppo?
Definitely Harpo. Silent but musical - and ridiculously silly although vaguely melancholy. Complex.
Who are your heroes?
Anyone and everyone who works to stay focused, positive, and loving in this wacky world full of challenges and distractions.