In "[title of show]," the title of MusicalFare Theatre's latest production, Steve Copps, 25, plays a musical theater composer who, with three friends, writes a musical about making a musical. Copps, who lives in New York City, last appeared at MusicalFare in the World War II-based show "Cabaret." The Internet-age humor and sensibility of "[title of show]," directed by Randall Kramer, is a change of pace for the MusicalFare audience, but it's one that Copps is confident will be welcomed with open arms.
>This show is unique, isn't it? It's four people sitting around talking about making a musical.
They're advertising it as a backstage love letter to theater and theater lovers. It's just these four people who everybody can relate to. It's really funny for me to watch these four people and how their process is going. How they're living in New York, working, auditioning and living. There's a lot that I can relate to, I'm finding out.
>Do you relate to the material more as a New Yorker or a theater person? Or maybe as a young person?
All of the above. I've had those conversations [in the show]. Hunter [played by Marc Sacco] is a cater waiter, and that's what I do when I'm there. I wait tables on behalf of Cipriani restaurant for their big banquets and events. There's other times when Hunter is [unemployed] and says, "Man, I don't know what I'm going to do. My temp agency isn't calling. I'm looking on Craigslist and it's between watching tropical plants or donating my [bodily fluids]." So it's very bizarre to see that in a show, because they're taking real conversations from real life.
>There's a different sense of humor in this -- one many MusicalFare patrons might not expect to see on stage.
That was one of Randy's concerns. That was one of their main concerns going to Broadway: How do we fix this so that we have stuff that's going to grab the masses? How is the whole show going to grab our audience? It's the same thing at MusicalFare. It's not their traditional show. It's very different from "Cabaret," in that it's just a lot -- what's the word? -- well, it's funnier.
>You're a songwriter, too. Do you relate to that part of these characters?
I was bored one day. I was looking for a job three years ago and I was just sitting at my computer and my keyboard was there. I started writing. I've always been a fan of music and I just do it for fun. I have the utmost respect for people like [composer] Jeff Bowen, who can write an entire show and put himself out there to get rejected. He says in the show that he hides from it, that he pretends not to be nervous, but the fact is it makes the person very exposed and vulnerable. I have a lot of respect for people who do that. It takes a really diligent person to put together a body of work like that. It's bigger than what I do.
>These characters are funny, but desperate. Have you ever had to put yourself on the line for your art?
They're totally desperate. That's something that they need. A lot of people in the acting industry, that's why they're doing it. I love to entertain people. To make them laugh, smile, think. I have thought, "Man, I am desperate for my person, for Steve, to be heard." As the show progresses you see these guys go, "You know what, let's just write. Who cares what happens? Who cares if we get received by the New York Musical Theatre Festival? Who cares about anything? Let's just write and see what we come up with."
-- Ben Siegel