The 30th Anniversary Rock Musical
Photo: Dusti Cunningham
Mister D: A while back, I mentioned that a huge Bette Midler fan, Spencer Brown, was going to adapt the movie to a bona fide rock musical for the theatre. Well, it’s happening and will make it’s debut in Kansas City on Friday, July 24th with a scheduled closing on Monday, August 10th.
I’ve created this space for Spencer to keep a little “behind the scenes” blog, hoping we might find out how something like this comes together. I find this absolutely thrilling and I hope to attend. I want to be Spencer’s “Mr. Guffman” although I have nothing to offer. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, rent the hilarious movie about community theatre entitled, “Waiting For Guffman.” Okay, I’ve talked enough, so I give you Spencer Brown, aka Daisy Bucket, ake The Rose:
I’ve adapted it right from the film. It was actually five years ago when I was moving to NYC to start my education at the American Musical & Dramatic Academy that I had the idea. I was able to gather the music from the NY Performing Arts Library at Lincoln Center. However, not really knowing how to go about putting it on, I just kept it saved on my computer. This past winter, Novemberish, my friend Chadwick told me he was trying to produce some performing art material at a space located in Kansas City. He knew I’d at one point been working on this so he asked me if I’d finished it and if I’d like to make it happen. I knew this was the chance to jump at so I finished it within a couple more months and sent him the script. He offered the directorial job to Ron Megee, who is one of the finest talents in Kansas City, comparable to Charles Busch in NY I would say.
For this show, there is a live band with the same songs, although we are looking at doing a few different things with how it plays out. The opening of the show starts right off with Rose & Rudge having their discussion before the reporters come in. The opening song from the film “Whose Side Are You On?” is the song that closes the first act and we’re looking at arranging it so that it’s a duet to the audience (possible trio) with Rose & Houston (possibly Rudge).
We’re adding an acoustic version (similar to the bit we get on the plane in the film) of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” that we’ll happen in the bed scene with Rose & Houston, and looking at actually having Houston sing it. The band will include a nice group of musicians but with the expenses, we’re looking at not having a brass section. 🙁 The space probably wouldn’t even be suitable for it and horn sections don’t come cheap!
There are a few things in the script that were not adaptable for the stage production so things, of course, have been altered in places. The army character is not in the script and some of the scenes have been made into a single scene (Houston & Rose’s bedroom scene starts where, in the movie, Houston & Rose are going into the hotel room).
Of course, we’re not having people bum rush the stage at the end of “Sold My Soul to Rock N Roll“. And, even though it probably won’t happen, we’ve been considering including some of the songs that they were using when they were filming the concert footage but never included it in the film (particularly “Stagger Lee”).
We’re getting together in a few weeks to do a photo shoot that I’m so stoked for – at one of the AT&T offices, they have a basement that houses a sort of museum of phone booths. I’m told the idea for one of the shots is to have me in the photo booth, drowning in rose petals inside -or something of that nature.
I imagine our cast will be announced soon, so I’ll be able to divulge more then!
Photo: Dusti Cunningham
Well today our project coordinator announced the cast for our production! All of the actors are mainly local but have done some very impressive work in the theatre community. You’ll probably be most interested in our choice for the Drag Club Emcee & Mr. Leonard is going to be played by a woman, adding to the role reversal part of myself playing Rose.
We’re having our photo shoot on Monday, June 15th and I can’t wait to unleash them!
Announcing the cast of The Rose:
MARY ROSE FOSTER: SPENCER BROWN
HOUSTON DIRE: KIPP SIMMONS
BILLY RAY: DANA NICHOLSON
RUDGE: DAVID WAYNE REED
SARAH WILLINGHAM (REPORTER #1,): CORRIE VAN AUSDAL
MR. LEONARD, REPORTER, CLUB LEADER: KIMBERELY QUEEN
REPORTERS, DRAG QUEENS, & VARIOUS ROLES: KC COMEAUX & VI TRAN
BACK UP VOCALIST: KATIE KAREL
BACK UP VOCALIST: AMY KELLY
BACK UP VOCALIST: EMMA TAYLOR
Mister D: Oh. You may keep up with cast and crew by joining their Facebook page as well. Should be fun. Click Here
So yesterday was our photo shoot and I was super excited. After getting rid of a hangover from the night before, I headed over to the photographer’s house. Dusti Cunningham is one of the best photographers in Kansas City -and I would even go as so far to say in the country.
Andy Chambers, a well-respected and FABULOUS make-up artist, started getting me into “The Rose” face around 3pm. We bleached my eyebrows, painted my nails, and by about 4:30/5 we were ready to start shooting.
I think Dusti said he took some 750 shots -me with a microphone, me shooting up, me dying, me surrounded by orange roses on a mattress in an alley, me against a brick wall at a floral shop in Kansas City where they have an enormous rose painted on the wall. It was fabulous. We ended up getting done around 9pm last night.
Afterwards, not wanting to put the outfit to bed quite yet, we went to the Brick, which is the same bar we used for our callbacks when we were casting the show. I drank lots of whiskey and bourbon (gotta love method acting). It was also Monday night which is karaoke night! So I ended up singing “Fire Down Below”, “Me and Bobby McGee“, and ended by singing “The Rose”, where two fabulous friends of mine got on another microphone and sang back-up. By the end of the night, I truly was a hot mess. So I’ve attached a few shots from the Brick last night. The photos from the photo shoot yesterday won’t be emerging for at least a week or so I imagine but I did get to peek at the camera a few times and I do think they look pretty amazing.
* We were unable to do a photo shoot in the basement of the AT&T building that housed old phone booths. Apparently the building was sold only a month ago and the booths have since been removed.
* In the photo shoot, we had around 160 roses ordered. We decided on a sort of coral/orange color which adds to a lot of the color used in the shoot. They were really beautiful. They got them on Friday and then kept them in water until the shoot on Monday, where they they then put them in warmer water so the roses would be in full bloom. It’s probably not terribly exciting for people to know about but it’s certainly a ‘behind-the-scenes’ process that one might not think about when they see the photos.
I can’t wait until they surface so you can see them. The candid shots at the Brick last night hardly do justice for what’s to come!
Keep on Rockin’!
Subject: “The Rose” Blog Update
Photo: Dusti Cunningham
Well this is the week is where the marketing campaign really kicks off. After the amazing photo shoot a few weeks ago, I went to California to do a few performances with the Kinsey Sicks. Afterwards, my boyfriend and I drove to Las Vegas where we went to see “The Showgirl Must Go On” for our birthdays. We saw it on Wednesday, June 24th just off to the right in the fourth row (right by the stairs where Bette comes down to play the ukelele!). Having seen it in March last year, it was great to see how the show has evolved and has become a much tighter production, a pro side when being a Vegas show. Somewhat of a downside for someone who longs for another epic show like “Kiss My Brass“. It’s safe to assume that my boyfriend and I were the only ones in the first ten rows under the age of thirty. My only complaint: last year when I saw it, Bette would go into “Glory of Love” during the Soph segment and then give a cute antecdote about Ernie passing away and old burlesque and about ‘finding your light -they can’t love ya if they can’t see ya.” That whole bit was gone. It went from Bette playing the first half of “The Glory of Love” on uke then the band joining her for the finish of it. So my main complaint isn’t with anything particular about Bette (it never would be!) -my main complaint is that they cut what I thought was a very good moment in the show!
After the show, my boyfriend and I purchased a few t-shirts only available inside the Colosseum and not in the boutique shop. I was sad to find that “The Rose” rocker t-shirt that they had last year has since been discontinued. Big bummer!!! So as we’re shopping, who pops right up in front of us but Kamilah Marshall and Shayna Steele! Brian and I probably looked completely stupified for a moment. Kamilah spoke first saying, “we just wanted to say how much fun it was watching you guys!” Apparently we were as entertaining to them as they were to us! So I then brought up that I had actually e-mailed both of them from their websites (courtesy of Bootleg Betty, ya know) that I was going to be at the Wednesday show fourth row and couldn’t wait and wished them break-a-legs. Once I said this, Shayna asked, “Are you Spencer?” and I thought this was just getting cooler by the second. Now one of them I messaged was through MySpace, and my MySpace is a publicity strategy for my drag character, Daisy, so I had to tell them I was also a drag queen. Shayna nudged Kamilah and said, “He’s the one who does drag!” And then they go into a story about when they were leaving the theatre, they saw a very tall man wearing women’s clothes (my guess is transgendered) leaving. They stopped him and asked if he was Spencer and in a low voice he said, “No, I’m Andrew.” Just the very idea of this had me laughing real good. So Kamilah said Jordan was outside of the shop waiting for them and we could meet her too if we wanted (uhm, duh! I dropped whatever I was going to buy and decided I’d go back later). We all got to talking -Shayna mentioned her new album will be out in September and available on iTunes and Kamilah mentioned that she’s looking at venues to tour with in the near future and asked me a little bit about Kansas City, which I think would be a great place for her to visit for a few nights of performing. Jordan asked if I went up to shake Bette’s hand at the end (Bette goes down the stage shaking everyone’s hand who goes up to stage). I told her I got closer but didn’t think it was right to push all the middle-aged women aside that I was surrounded by. I think maybe ten/fifteen minutes went by and Jordan had to go take care of her dog, so we got in a couple photos with them courtesy of my iPhone (I didn’t dare bring my camera to the Colosseum!).
I ended up buying the big program book (which they didn’t have yet when I went last year), a Delores DeLago handicap magnet, some postcards, two 4×6 Bette frames (for our pictures with the Harlettes of course!), and one of the giclee posters signed by Bette (I bought #83 of the 550 or so that are being sold…so there’s plenty still available!). Small note worth mentioning: the program book is beautiful, some of the photoshopped elements are done quite well, but the worst part is the filmography page. It only uses a few photos from all of her films and it has “That Old Feeling” listed as being released in 2000. It also completely omits the TV movie, “Gypsy” and most shocking is that it doesn’t include “The First Wives Club” on the list. Wtf!?
Yesterday, “The Rose” producer Chadwick Brooks, myself, and the photographer Dusti Cunningham met together to discuss the options for club flyers, sizes, how many, and which photos to use. Online ticket sales have already begun and I just did an interview for our local LGBT magazine, CAMP, which is running a cover story for their July issue coming out Wednesday or Thursday this week.
Our first read-through is Monday, July 6th. The entire cast will be joining to read the script together and we’ll also follow that by watching the film! So it’ll be quite a fun night and I’m very much looking forward to it!
From CAMP KC:
The Rose opens July 24
Spencer Brown (a.k.a. Daisy Bucket) is elated about being able to star in what looks to be a great new musical involving some former Late Night Theatre talent. Here’s what Spencer sent me from his Facebook page:
“It’s quite common these days to see a musical based on a movie or a jukebox musical that recycles an entire catalogue of one artist’s music. The Rose: The 30th Anniversary Rock Musical, premiering at the end of July at La Esquina, is nothing of the sort. Based on the 1979 film that got Bette Midler her first Oscar nomination, the story of a Janis Joplin-like character whose success skyrockets and crashes is one that can still ring true with today’s society and celebrity gossip. Thirty years before Britney Spears would rise and fall and rise again and Amy Winehouse would be singing “no, no, no” to rehab, The Rose is an authentic rock musical unlike anything brought to the stage. Produced by Chadwick Brooks through the Urban Culture Project and directed by one of Kansas City’s most prestigious theatre personas, Ron Megee, this will be the hottest ticket of the summer that doesn’t involve ABBA or eating a meal while watching a former ’80s TV star do farce in a Neil Simon play. Right now, information can only be found through the Facebook Group “The Rose: The 30th Anniversary Rock Musical,” where the cast has been announced, including Spencer Brown as The Rose, David Wayne Reed as Rose’s manager Rudge, Kipp Simmons as Houston, and Cody Wyoming as the band leader.”
Kinsey Sicks debut in Kansas City
Spencer Brown’s other gig is the national Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet, The Kinsey Sicks. That group will make its Kansas City debut Oct. 10 at the Country Club Congregational United Church of Christ in Brookside. This will be a must-see production, and tickets should sell out quickly when they go on sale in mid-July. For more information, see www.kinseysicks.com.
June 23, 2009
Photo: Dusti Cunningham
Well tonight is our final dress rehearsal. I’ve been so swept up in all of it the last week that I’ve barely had time to think about what I’m doing. Between the director and I, we’ve made some changes script wise that have since helped move the show along. Though I’m sure fans of the film would have loved to have it, we ended up cutting the scene where Rose goes into the Quik Shop and vists Mr. Leonard. We’ve also decided to actually have Rose SING “The Rose” at one turning point in the show. Now I know what you’re probably thinking -“Oh my god, no! Why!? They’re ruining it!” Well, these are the decisions we make in putting things up on a stage instead of behind a camera -and I think the people that see it will find it a rather devastating moment. Probably even more so than “Stay With Me”. The cast is just marvelous. Everyone in it is a wonderful asset to the show. I barely have the time to even visit with them between breaks because my head is trying to keep up with everything going on. After the show last night, I went out -in costume- to promote the show at two drag shows that happen in different gay clubs. At the first one I sang “Me and Bobby McGee”, stating that while the story is not Janis Joplin’s I thought the song was good enough to use to promote with (not to mention the attendance had a fair amount of lesbians). The second venue I sang “When a Man Loves a Woman” -both songs I sang with karaoke backing tracks so while it didn’t give off the vibe that the live show will, they were both still received quite well.
That link is an article that was printed in today’s Kansas City Star, our big paper. Robert Trussell interviewed me a few days ago to get something out to spread the word. I like it. I’m not quite certain I like him starting off by calling me obsessed but I don’t think I’m in a position to argue at this point.
Keep On Rockin’!
Starring in “The Rose: A Rock Tragedy” playing July 24th through August 10th. Buy tickets at: