Discover All Things Regional in Central PA’s art and culture scene. Join hosts Cary Burkett and Joe Ulrich as they make artistic discoveries throughout the midstate. From music and visual arts to theatre, museums, literature and more! Listen every Wednesday and Friday on witf 89.5 and 93.3 for features highlighting the best and brightest cultural happenings in the region.
They won't tell me how Derek died, but it could be because he fell down this giant hole in the floor of their rehearsal space.
"Watch the hole!" people shout as I walk past a giant rectangular hole in the floor that drops down at least two stories.
Derek is actually just a fictional character. But this hole in the floor that I'm walking past is very real. It's in the old Lancaster Opera workshop, and it's used to bring heavy props and other things up to the upper floors. What's happening here tonight is a rehearsal with Lancaster band Ton-Taun as well as a bunch of actors. Ton-Taun is about to release a 3 song EP called Sorry Brian: You're Derek Now. And instead of a normal release show at a local venue, they wanted to do something different.
After successfully avoiding certain death, I sit down with five people involved in the production: the Chair of Creative Works of Lancaster and director of the show Joanna Underhill, Matt Johnson who wrote the musical, Jordan Capizzi and Katie Siefarth of Ton-Taun and Adam Taylor who plays Brian in the musical.
From left to right: Joanna Underhill (Creative Works of Lancaster), Jordan Capizzi (Ton-Taun member), Matt Johnson (writer), Katie Seifarth (Ton-Taun Member) and Adam Taylor (lead actor).
"It didn't seem like tons of fun to do a regular show for something that was only three songs long," says Jordan. "So Douglas, who's one of the guitar players in the band, we were trying to figure out a fun thing to do...And we decided on a musical. I'm not totally sure how we got there. I think it just seemed like the dumbest thing we could try. 'What's something that we probably won't follow through on? A musical.'"
And so they reached out to Matt Johnson to write a script around the three songs.
"So I listened to to the songs and I was actually really inspired," Matt says. But the songs weren't written as part of a music and they're thematically unrelated. So Matt had to create a theme to connect the songs. "I think I came up with the storyline in about 10 minutes. And I knew right away that the plot would kind of be within their sense of humor because like Jordan said we do share a sense of humor. And the title was the clincher for me. I loved the songs as it was, but then I heard the title and I said, 'Oh I have this.' I got it right away. It just kinda came to me."
Jordan adds, "That title, Sorry Brian You're Derek Now is obviously just totally nonsensical or so I thought. I think the band likes being in on our own jokes. I just think we like kinda naming things with absurd names and just doing things to amuse ourselves. So it was cool to see someone take that and like make something that made sense out of it. I didn't realize how smart I was," he says to laughter.
They weren't willing to reveal too much of the plot but Matt did say that he envisioned Sorry Brian: You're Derek Now as a dark comedy. "And all that we can really say is that Brian and Derek are twin brothers. Derek passes away and the rest of the play is Brian's attempt to maintain some sense of his own identity through the expectations of everybody for him to be like his golden-boy brother."
Adam Taylor as Brian during a rehearsal of Sorry Brian: You're Derek Now
Ton-Taun member Katie Seifarth explains, "Like Jordan said earlier, we had already been playing the songs out live so we were like, 'How do we feel stoked about these again?'"
Jordan adds, "I'm a very selfish performer. I'm a very selfish maker of things and I can't be super excited about something unless I am excited."
Judging by the over nine thousand views the trailor for the musical has garnered on Facebook, it seems that a lot of people are excited about Sorry Brian: you're Derek Now. The show will be performed December 2-4 at Tellus360 in Lancaster.
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