Category Archives: musical theater

Consistency is key…

Back in March a wonderful human being by the name of Ben Dicke asked me to Music Direct a show he was working on producing later in the year. His vote of confidence in me was seconded by another amazing human, Piper Arpan. I was hesitant purely out of insecurity and I told him I would consider it and could I get a recording. The show was Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson, which at this point in Denver’s theatrical community, is the stuff of Legend (for more on this and the origins of the show check out the following links: 1) Numero Uno2) Numero Dos aka “WTF?”3) Phew!4) It’s on, bitches.

As I continuously listened to the CD in my car, driving to and fro to gigs, etc. I became acutely aware of a desire to take this show on that overshadowed my own bullshit to the point that I was able to say yes to this undertaking. And that’s where the adventure began, starting with 2 intimate performances a week apart at the gracious Cap City Tavern at 13th and Bannock in downtown Denver that consisted of 2-3 numbers from the show, performed by my friends as I accompanied them on guitar, followed by to-the-point dialogues about the show, it’s origins, Ben’s desire to produce it and why, and a hope of personal investment from those that patronized the Tavern that night as well as online via our Kickstarter. After this came a 24-hour treadmill run by Ben on the 16th St. Mall which, when completed, had put us over the projected goal and gave us the funds to start production.

We held auditions. Deliberated for days on the cast and who would be cast as the lead. Cast our show and then played a rather stressful game of put-the-pieces-together as we lost actors, found actors, lost actors, etc. and eventually came in to what I can only describe as OUR cast. A group of people that were for the vision of the show, for Ben, for me as an MD and we swiftly became family. The rehearsal process was fierce and full of swift creativity, memorization and moments of sheer awareness of character and choice as Ben assumed the role of Director/Lead actor. As we neared completion of rehearsals, with all of our lights programmed and our Stage Manager taking the reigns there was a since of awesome awareness that we had worked on and completed something amazing in our 3 weeks of rehearsal. And then, 2 hours before the house was to open, Ben fell down an open trap door and the energy slammed in to a brick wall of shock, worry and frustration. Executive decisions were made for that evening and we carried on with our night in complete disarray. I saw Ben in the hospital and more than anything just wanted my friend to be okay. In the end, he was (is) and we rescheduled the opening of the show and we carry on with rehearsals as I compose this.

In my mind, what has made all of this possible, other than the unwavering support of all those involved, which includes the Facebook posts and messages to Ben during his Hospital stay, was the consistent awareness of the cast and crew that we had something wonderful that needed to be shared. Not just for the greater Denver/Metro area, but for themselves. In the situation we encountered a week ago it would be hard to be selfish given the circumstances, but as the decision was made to carry on with Ben as our lead(er), with everyone in their original roles, I was justified in the feeling that we all needed to do this show for us as much as anyone else. Rarely do I find myself in a mind set such as this, but it was the truth. The time has come to share this story with our friends, family, and the general public. We are past due for the birthing of this artistic creation. It is time to take the overwhelming consistency and love that this cast has for its show, its director and its crew and show this city that we are not idle and never have been since day one.

-JTV posts used with permission

For Those of You Wondering…

Hey Dear Frends,

I know that some of you have been bombarded with fundraising posts from me on Facebook about the show I’m Music Directing with Ben Dicke in the Fall. A lot of you have been curious about what the show is actually ABOUT, seeing as how it’s fairly new and all that.

Below is a Synopsis of the show and a little bit about Ben since some of you may not be familiar with him. I had the sincere pleasure of working with him as the guitarist for The Wedding Singer at the Aurora Fox last year and to be involved in his Direction/Vision of the show Xanadu at the Aurora Fox this Spring. Please forward this link to friends, co-workers, artists, etc. that you think would be interested in financially supporting this project. It only takes $1. We will also be doing a short concert fundraiser at Cap City Bar at 13th and Bannock in Denver on Monday, April 23rd.

“BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON tells the story of America’s first political maverick. A.J. kicked British butt, shafted the Indians and smacked down the Spaniards all in the name of these United States–who cares if he didn’t have permission?

An exhilarating and white-knuckled look at one of our nation’s founding rock stars, BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON recreates and reinvents the life of “Old Hickory,” from his humble beginnings on the Tennessee frontier to his days as our seventh Commander-in-Chief. It also asks the question, is wanting to have a beer with someone reason enough to elect him? What if he’s really, really hot?”

The show is set up in three parts-the first being a nearly melodramatic look at 19th Century frontier life and Jackson’s part in it. His family dead from cholera and Indian attacks, Jackson decides to take on a larger role in the greater world around him. He meets his wife Rachel and soon becomes the War hero who would begin to sculpt the outlook of a nation.

Part two takes the audience on the road to the White House, replete with a back-door scandal that keeps our hero from his first stab at the Oval Office. Jackson, undaunted, returns to defeat the “elitist political machine” that controls Washington to become the first President not directly connected to any of the founding fathers.

In the third and final part of the show, we find AJ surrounded by his “Populist” followers who, though initially filled with deep admiration for his democratic style, are soon resentful of their involvement in so much decision-making. Jackson is overwhelmed by the apathy of the American populous and sets the US on a course for “Manifest Destiny.”

Though the characters and structure of the show are all-at-once shocking, endearing, horrifying and hysterical, it’s the searing and often moving emo-rock score that truly gives this show it’s voice. An amazing show straight from Broadway, this Rocky Mountain Regional Premiere is sure to take Denver by storm.

BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON is slated to run at the Aurora Fox Studio Space from September 7-October 28. The kickstarter for the project ends May 1.

Join me in making history.

Ben Dicke started playing around in theatre in grade school at his Church. If he would have made the basketball team in 7th grade, he probably would not have made theatre his life’s passion. His first directorial gig was his high school’s production of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK. Since then he has helmed dozens of productions from middle school musicals to Shakespeare, from large-scale union projects, to intimate environmental works. Some of his favorite directorial and co-directorial projects include I, OEDIPUS, XANADU, BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, BYE BYE BIRDIE, HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS…, THE BALD SOPRANO, HAMLET, GROUCHO: A LIFE IN REVUE, and THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST. His contacts both regionally and nationally not only include Broadway and Off-Broadway but also television and film as well as staff and talent at some of the best Regional Houses in the country.