Fanboy Comics Managing Editor Barbra Dillon interviews the man behind the guerilla-theater response to Julie Taymor’s Broadway behemoth.
It’s no secret that the Broadway show Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark has been plagued by numerous cast injuries, poor writing, and bad press. Given the $65 million price that went towards production of the show, many are left wondering why so much money was spent in the first place. In the wake of this catastrophic disaster emerged a show that many hope will turn theater on its head. Created by writer Justin Moran (POPE! The Musical), The Spidey Project: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility is a guerilla-style theater production that aims to write, rehearse, and perform a Spider-Man-inspired musical within 30 days on a $0 budget. The show is scheduled for two performances on March 14th at the Peoples Improv Theatre in NYC.
The following is an interview with actor and improviser Ryan Nelson, who co-stars in The Spidey Project. Ryan can be seen at The Magnet Theater in New York City in POPE! The Musical, performing musical improvisation with Choral Rage, and playing once a year with the super group Under Your Bed.
Barbra Dillon, Fanboy Comics: How did you get involved with The Spidey Project?
Ryan Nelson: It all happened really fast! I have been working with Justin Moran for several years now. We are both Magnet Theater alumni and have been performing musical improvisation together in NYC with an amazingly talented group, Choral Rage, for almost two years. In June of 2009, Justin asked me to do a reading of a musical that he wrote called POPE! The Musical. POPE! went on to run at The Magnet for eight months, then at the NYC Fringe Festival last summer at the Lucille Lortel Theater Off-Broadway, where it received an extended run. The POPE! experience was awesome, because it was the first time I had done a musical with all improvisers. There was always a positive vibe in the room when we rehearsed, and we were constantly discovering new things. Several weeks ago, after Justin had posted his first Spidey video, we had left a Choral Rage rehearsal, and he sent me a text about being in the show. I was homeless and crashing at my girlfriend’s apartment, and my work schedule was insane. But, I immediately said yes. Actually, it was more like, “F!#K YES.”
BD: The show has received great attention for being written, rehearsed, and performed within 30 days. What can you tell us about your character and the rehearsal process?
RN: IT’S BEEN CRAZY! I have never experienced theater at this level. Everyone in the cast is super committed and excited, but there has been a LOT of stuff to learn in such a short time. Amazing harmonies (which I’m terrible at!) and epic musical numbers. And, most of us play several characters which adds to the work load. Everyone’s schedule is crazy since we all have day jobs, so we have been meeting late night and weekends to rehearse. Unfortunately, I can’t say much about who is who, but I do play Flash (among other characters). I get to sing a song about Chipotle. Yes. Chipotle. And, even get to dance a little. Sometimes, I add in some of my own hip pops and bends to showcase my butt. The rest you have to see for yourself!
BD: Are there any details that you can tell us about the script? I promise not to tell…
RN: My lips are sealed! But, a few beers and several Jager shots might convince me to talk. Or a bottle of tequila. Screw it. I’ll show you the script if you buy me dinner. And a french press. I really need one of those.
I CAN say this: It’s REALLY good. And, the music is INCREDIBLE.
BD: Were you a fan of the Spider-Man comic books before the show?
RN: Haha no. I am a Batman fan and liked X-Men as a kid, but never cared much for Spider-Man. Hadn’t even seen the movies until this shitshow began. But, I like it! Peter Parker reminds me a lot of myself. Wait, no he doesn’t. But, I do hate when people kill spiders, and one time I woke up with a bunch of spider bites around my navel. I didn’t receive any super powers, but did take an awesome oatmeal bath.
BD: The Spidey Project was originally scheduled for one performance and, given its popularity, has recently been extended for a second show. Do you foresee the show being extended for an even longer run?
RN: Because of the legalities of performing this show, a run is highly unlikely. But, we have yet to receive a cease and desist AND Disney showed interest in seeing it, which are both really good things. We are getting so much support from the theater community in NYC. But, there are a lot of legal issues that go along with performing a show like this. Even if the tickets are free. But, who knows. Anything can happen!
BD: If you were a super hero, what would your super power be?
RN: Teleportation! Wait no. Power of Invincibility! Wait no. Immortality! Wait no. Laser Eyes! Wait no. How about the power to be able to invisibly teleport, with laser eyes, an unlimited money supply, and awesome pants, whilst being able to make it Passover whenever I wanted!? Yes. That’s it. Passover Man. I’ll pitch it to Justin.
Barbra Dillon is the Managing Editor of Fanboy Comics, an independent comic book publishing company based in Los Angeles, Calif. She has produced numerous short films including Something Animal and Batman of Suburbia, and served as Legal Advisor for the film Walken on Sunshine. For more interviews, blogs, and reviews by Barbra and the FBC staff, check out the Fanboy Comics website at FanboyComics.net or sign up for the e-newsletter, The Fanboy Scoop, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.