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The story behind Super Sidekick at Festival of New American Musicals

June 11, 2010

This is Gregory Craft’s baby.

He says, “This is the first play I ever wrote, and it was inspired by my nephew, Brody. I enrolled in a writer’s lab in a theatre company I was a part of back in the summer of 2006, and my sister in law was five months pregnant.

“According to the goals of the lab, the timing worked out that we should be finished by the time he was due. As it turned out, he was born and the first public reading of the script was five days later. So, he’s the reason why I wanted to write a children’s play. Being a huge fan of comic book super heroes growing up, I naturally wanted to present him with a story that would indoctrinate him into the culture early. It also bears mentioning that I met Jenn, my wife because of this show. She e-mailed me because she had just joined our company and was interested in being a part of the first public reading of the script (she later confessed she was looking for an excuse to e-mail the cute guy whose headshot she’d seen in the theatre lobby). In the same message, she suggested that the show could use some songs. So, here we are, almost four years later, married and with Super Sidekick: The Musical opening in just over a month. Fate? I think so.

“Shortly after Jenn and I got engaged, I put an ad up on CraigsList seeking a composer. I got a bunch of responses and scheduled meetings with the most promising looking candidates. Turns out, I only needed one meeting to find the guy I wanted – Michael Gordon Shapiro. Mike and I have a lot in common. We’re fans of geek culture, we both play Dungeons and Dragons, he composes video game scores for a living and I should get paid for all the time I spend playing video games. He’s also incredibly talented. He’d written a couple of mini-musicals that had been produced at the Secret Rose, and was looking to sink his teeth into something bigger. Super Sidekick turned out to be the perfect fit because he didn’t want to jump right into composing a full-length show. SS, being only an hour long and consisting of 5-6 songs was the perfect ‘next step up.’

We went back and forth on song development for just over a year. He did most of the work, writing the lyrics and composing the music, calling me in for approvals. Once they were approved, I’d re-write the scenes and integrate them in. He told me about FNAM in January, and I thought it would be a perfect show to submit, so we made it happen. I talked to the Artistic Team at my company, Theatre Unleashed, and asked to have SS added to the 2010 Season. They were all about it. We assembled a production team with Jenn directing (not because she’s my wife, but because she has almost a decade of children’s theatre experience under her belt) and that’s where we are now! We’re currently in rehearsals and things are going quite well.

“I hope that people will enjoy Super Sidekick, especially younger kids. It’s certainly “G” rated, but there’s humor in there for parents, as well. Sort of like old-school Sesame Street. Really, my goal here is to create a simple spectacle that people can come and enjoy. As long as we do that, I’ll be happy.”

July 18 – August 15 at Sherry Theatre, NoHo. More info here.

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