What is your vision for The Great American Mousical?
The musical of The Great American Mousical is based on the book that my daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, and I wrote several years ago. It was written as an affectionate tribute to the world we know and love—the world of musical theatre. But we also hoped that it offered something more: a glimpse backstage, a sense of how ‘theatre magic’ is achieved, and a bit of theatre history, etiquette, and tradition.
I must admit that we were stunned when Goodspeed asked to adapt our book for the stage. Even though the story is about the theatre, we worried that the differences in perspective between the mouse world and the human one might make a theatrical adaptation too challenging. But Michael Price and Bob Alwine were so persuasive and enthusiastic that we could not say no.
My hope for the show is that we have taken what began as a simple novel and turned it into a full-fledged musical with wit, memorable songs, and wonderful dance numbers. Our remarkable creative team has worked tirelessly for over a year and a half on this project. Zina Goldrich (music), Marcy Heisler (lyrics), and Hunter Bell (book) have transformed our story into a heartwarming piece of musical theatre. Christopher Gattelli’s choreography is everything we could have dreamed, and the incomparable Tony Walton, as set and costume designer, has brought his characteristic magic to the project, as has our esteemed lighting designer, Richard Pilbrow.
Adding actors to the mix (as fine a company as one could wish for!) has provided a new level of discovery. To see our characters spring to life and hear them speak and sing is both wonderful and surreal!
What plans do you have for working on The Great American Mousical while at The Norma Terris Theatre?
The Norma Terris is well known as a workshop, or developmental, stage—and the audiences understand that they are an important part of the process as we continue to work on the show while it is up and running. Of course, we have spent many weeks writing, rewriting, and rehearsing the show prior to the first performance. But once we add the vital element of an audience to the mix, we will learn from them what further work needs to be done. Audiences might see a new song one night, a new scene the next.
Where do we go from here? Who knows! But I do believe that what happens during our time at Goodspeed will be critical to its future success.
What can the audience expect to see?
We hope the audience will see a Valentine to musical theatre that is original and enjoyable in its own right. The show salutes iconic theatrical moments, and theatre buffs may smile as they recognize some of the allusions and tributes—but it is all new material, filled with affection for the challenges and triumphs of life backstage.
While the original book was conceived as a middle grade novel, to our delight the show has become a musical for all ages. The music and lyrics are smart and sophisticated, and the story is so multi-dimensional that there is something for everyone to enjoy.
As a work-in-progress, the production values at The Norma Terris Theatre must necessarily be minimal. Should our show be fortunate enough to go on to further life elsewhere, the scenery, costumes, and lighting would obviously be enhanced. But the essential elements are all there.
We are so excited to share this labor of love, and hope audiences will enjoy it as much as we have enjoyed bringing it to life.