‘Murphy’s Law: the Road Trip Musical Comedy’ brings Virginia Playwrights back home
Whoever Murphy was, his prescient pessimistic maxim has been the springboard for many a twisted tale and romantic comedy.
Thankfully, Murphy’s foresight happily leads to another maxim: “All’s Well That Ends Well.”
Many years ago, two University of Richmond buddies interested in theatre wrote a play, moved away, went their separate ways, but remained in touch and in love with theatre. They kept workshopping their collaboration in cities across the country where they happened to be and now it’s ready.
The authors have come to a point where they want to see it produced correctly.
How do you get to Broadway? Practice, practice, practice. And money, money, money.
Jonathan Spivey and Andy Nagraj are looking for fat cats and show biz daddies to get them to the Great White Way.
Spivey is from Hampton Roads. Nagraj is from Yorktown. They have both had success as actors on Broadway and on television. Hometown boys who have made good and want to keep on making good.
In 2002 they were both at UR and bonded at a North Carolina beach getaway that the UR Theatre Department sponsored. They started singing around the campfire with Andy on his guitar and found that they sparked creative ideas in each other.
Soon after they were both in the chorus of a University production of Gypsy starring Lorna Luft (Judy Garland’s other daughter starring in a college musical!) and in the hours they spent backstage they started talking about an idea for a piece of musical theatre.
Their premise is simple. A man becomes dismayed with the things that go wrong with his life, gets in his car and discovers America. Along the way he meets random interesting people. They have quirky adventures. They sing about their experiences in various musical styles that spring from each character’s aspirations and which part of the country they are in.
Reminiscent of a Kerouac road trip with a twist, the play uses two narrators to serve as tour guides through the episodic romp.
What is unique about this play is that in the 12 years since the first draft left the dot matrix printer, America has changed and the playwrights have matured. Each time they went back for another look at their work, they would find new challenges that Americans faced. The world became a scarier place that made people act differently towards each other.
As a result, the play became richer, more focused and more fun. Spivey and Nagraj are actors and musicians and first and foremost they wanted to create entertainment.
Spivey wrote a Facebook entry in April following the outrage over the North Carolina laws banning transgender choice of restroom facilities:
“I was talking to my very smart friend Andy Nagraj last week about our musical Murphy’s Law: The Road Trip Musical Comedy, and I expressed my concern that act one ends with the four principal characters singing a song titled “North Carolina” during which they collectively pin their hopes and aspirations on what the state may have to offer when they arrive. I wasn’t sure we wanted a big celebratory anthem for the state whose legislature has chosen to celebrate idiocy over the last few weeks. Andy, being the bright person that he is, reminded me that when the four characters actually reach North Carolina, all hell breaks loose when they realize that it’s not the solution to their problems. I felt much better.”
Such is the brain power behind this show.
Spivey and Nagraj take joint credit for their score and admit that they collaborate but have somewhat different tastes and styles when creating their own music. They got to play with their differences as they wrote the characters that we meet across the country. Different regions have different musical tastes from East Coast Broadway through Bayou Blues to New Orleans Jazz, Memphis Country and Texas Twang.
Spivey and Nagraj have assembled a fantastic ensemble to do a concert reading/singing of this play:
Jan Guarino, Audra Honaker, Jackie Jones, Paul Major, Durron Marquis Tyre and Scott Wichmann. More stars than there are in Campbell’s Chicken and Stars soup!
Murphys Law: the Road Trip Musical Comedy, will be performed at the Richmond Triangle Players Theatre on Altamont Street on Monday, July 25, 2016 at 8:00 p.m., no reservations. Pay what you can. $10.00 donation recommended.
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