I’m asking actors and designers to name five dream roles/projects and say why. The answers not only reveal aspirations, they may put an idea in the minds of artistic directors and producers — even choices that seem outside the box.
"5. Toxic Avenger: A Monster Musical Comedy, by Joe DiPietro and David Bryan. The only musical I know that takes global warming and climate change seriously. I was a huge fan of the movie and sequels (yes, I like horror) about a radioactive mutant cleaning up pollution and crime in the big city. Though the show is campy and silly, it still manages to find a heartfelt romance between mutant and human. It’s a rock musical so there are many fun and outrageous dances to be had.
"4. Rock of Ages by Chris D’Arienzo. This is a nostalgic pick for me. I grew up with all these iconic songs. With such #1 hits as 'Don’t Stop Believing,' 'Harden My Heart,' 'We’re Not Gonna Take It,' and 'Hit Me with Your Best Shot,' this show is definitely a dance-maker’s must have. The styles range from contemporary pop to hard rock to bebop boy band — a choreographic smorgasbord. And the rights just became available so…get on it, San Diego!
"3. Bat Boy: The Musical, by Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming. I first saw Bat Boy when I lived in Los Angeles (though I think it went through some book changes on its way to New York). A local L.A. theater group premiered the bizarre and affecting musical in 1997. Based on a tabloid article about a half-bat, half-boy, the show takes a hard look at racism and religion but also injects much over-the-top humor. Not a particularly dance-heavy show, but to choreograph the number 'Show You a Thing or Two' — where Bat Boy goes from a babbling, incoherentj troglodyte to a GED-earning, high-kicking, multiple turning high school graduate — would be worth hanging upside down in a cave for.
"2. Shockheaded Peter, created for the stage by Julian Crouch and Phelim McDermott, conceived and produced by Michael Morris. I saw this dark and quirky musical in New York in 2005. It is based on the German children’s book Struwwelpter, by Heinrich Hoffman. The music, by The Tiger Lillies, is unrelentingly dark, macabre, and violent. The lyrics tell moralistic tales where badly behaved youngsters meet gruesome and grisly deaths. The show is subversive, irreverent, and diabolical. I love it. (To be honest, this will actually be crossed off my bucket list when I choreograph this musical for Cygnet Theatre in May. Robby Lutfy directs.)
"1. The Wild Party, by Andrew Lippa. If I was born in any other time, I would want it to be in the roaring '20s. I love this musical because the score has a definite pop/rock sound, but the influences of jazz and blues are still present and, most importantly, the dance is very integral to the storytelling. Dynamic, sexy, raunchy, and bold, this show would be a choreographer’s dream.
"And, yes, I am aware that four of my five picks have characters dying horrible deaths. That's how I roll."