nytheatre.com q&a preview by Neil Patrick Stewart
June 20, 2013
What is your job on this show?
I am the director, and one of the original creators of the musical..
What is your show about?
VOLLEYGIRLS is a brand-new girl-power musical about a disgraced Olympian who finds herself coaching a team of wide-eyed misfit high-school girls, learning how to help them, how to accept their help in return, and how to win it all.
What type of theater do you like most to work on?
Collaboration is everything to me. I love to pursue projects that require affirmation and contribution from many different participants. When there's a special energy in the room, and great ideas are emerging from the whole group rather than a single person, I'm in heaven. I'm a teacher at heart, and I really respond to actors and collaborators that have humility combined with hunger to learn -- my students have this, and I'll choose to work with that over "experienced cynicism" any day.
Complete this sentence: My show is the only one opening in NYC this summer that...?
My show is the only one opening in NYC this summer that features a cast of strong women engaged onstage in heart-pounding volleyball action -- and certainly the only one that combines it with empowering, positive messages for young women.
Why did you want to write/direct/produce/act in/work on this show?
Our lead actor, Susan Blackwell, put it the best: "This show fights for the powers of good." It really does. It's a GOOD show, not just in the traditional sense, but in the moral sense: it's not just joyous, infectious, and funny -- it also makes the world a better place. I really believe that. VOLLEYGIRLS is the result of years of sacrifice and collaboration between a small community. It began with the playwright, composer, lyricist, and me, and has since expanded to a team the size of a small village. And every single person on that team believes in the show, and is dedicated to it in a self-sacrificing way, and protects the "spirit" of the show: no jerks, no big egos, no eye-rolling pessimists. For that reason the show has taken on a life of its own -- has grown into something that's larger than we are -- and is ready to take on the community at large with a message of joy.
Which “S” word best describes your show: SMOOTH, SEXY, SMART, SURPRISING?
SURPRISING. It's not what you expect (a good thing), and there's nothing else like it (a wonderful thing).
How important is diversity to you in the theater you see/make?
For a long time I was made to feel that I couldn't be a part of diversity -- that my very presence made a room less diverse. Of course, that's not true at all. Every single group of people that participates in theater should have a voice in it -- every single group should be empowered, and invited to tell stories. In our show, it's the women who are fighting, struggling, falling down, getting up, learning, and triumphing, and it's the men who cheer them on from the sidelines. Stories like this should not be as rare as they are. The fact that we're telling it makes the landscape of musical theater more diverse, and it makes me extraordinarily proud.