VFC, Jr. is talking to some of the other Hollywood Fringe participants in our new series, Fringe Family Friday Interviews. Our second interview is with Gregory Crafts, who is presenting his show at the Fringe, Super Sidekick: The Musical.
What made you decide to write a children’s show and put it into Fringe Family?
Well, Super Sidekick was originally conceived as a one-act play back in 2006. I was in a writer’s lab at the time and my sister-in-law was pregnant with my nephew, Brody. Being strapped for cash and not able to afford a gift to celebrate his impending arrival, I decided that I wanted to write something for him. I was obsessed with comic book superheroes as a kid. Spider-Man and the X-Men were particular favorites. Considering how much I enjoyed those stories, and how well I knew them, I thought that writing a play in that genre for him would be an achievable task for my first play.
My nephew was born in October and the first reading of the play was four days later. This reading also marked another important first for me – the first time I ever worked with my then-future wife, Jenn. The reading went well, but everyone agreed that the show was missing “something.” After the reading, she e-mailed me to say thanks for inviting her to be a part of it and she suggested that it would make a great children’s musical. Well, Jenn and I started dating and by the time we’d gotten engaged a year later, I put out a call on CraigsList seeking a composer with a flair for superheroes and children’s theatre. Enter Mike Shapiro, professional composer. Mike was my first interviewee. He also turned out to be my only one, as after we talked I cancelled the interviews with all of my other potential collaborators. We took a year and a half and worked on developing the music. Jenn agreed to direct the first production of it, and the new-and-improved Super Sidekick: The Musical premiered last year as a part of LA’s Festival of New American Musicals on our first wedding anniversary.
When I heard that Ben and company were starting up Fringe Family, I absolutely knew that Super Sidekick had to be a part of it. Jenn is directing this production and we’ve managed to bring back most of the original cast. We have a few new faces too, and they promise to bring new dynamics to the show. I’m very excited about what we’ve got planned.
What has been the most exciting or fun thing about working on this particular project?
There are many exciting elements about working on this show. First and foremost, it’s a fun play for everyone – the cast, the kids and their parents. I think the cast that we’ve assembled is incredibly talented and excited to be a part of this story. Scott Sharma is resuming his endearing portrayal of Inky, the titular sidekick to combat the evil Sorcerer Slurm (Shawn Cahill, a triple threat with extensive Broadway/Touring credits) and his Ninja Koala hench-… men? (hench-koalas? I don’t know…) Noah Butler injects some new life into the role of the bumbling Hero, Blackjack the Bold, who is captured by Slurm in his attempt to rescue PrincessPenelope (reprised by Hanna Nawroth), leaving it up to Inky to save his friends, The Kingdom and the day from the forces of evil. The returning Sara-Beth Wichman, and new ninjas Heather Lake, Ana Therese Lopez and Jude Evans round out the cast.
Between getting to work with this cast, plus three of my best friends in Jenn, Mike and our Stage Manager/Assistant Director, Erin, this show has a wonderful family feel already, just based on how close we all are as a cast and crew. It’s created such a wonderful, fun collaborating environment.
What do you hope families will take away from your show when they see it during the Hollywood Fringe?
There are some important lessons in the show that I think children can benefit from (like that it’s okay to be scared, the importance of friendship & teamwork (and that Ninja Koalas “are very dangerous, you know” but they like their eucalyptus leaves!), but really, I would love to see families coming out of this show and laughing, feeling like they just enjoyed a really fun story. A few months after the show premiered last year, I received an e-mail from a friend of mine who had brought his 7 year old son to see it. He said that his son was still singing “I’m Not Afraid of the Dark” (one of the songs from the show) and playing “Inky and Blackjack” with his action figures. If I could give that kind of meaningful experience to a kid and have it leave that kind of impression, I’ll be happy.
For more information on Super Sidekick, call (818) 849-4039. Also, check out the Theatre Unleashed website: www.theatreunleashed.com.