Tell me about the theater company.
Well, it's called Roundabout Music Theatre. ... The type of theater that I'm doing now, with this new company, is (with) no sets, minimal props. In Cabaret (the company's first show, performed at the SaddleBrooke retirement community), for example, in the scenes in Frau Schneider's living room, there was an antique settee on the stage--nothing else. ... The orchestra's on the stage behind them. The orchestra in this case was a six-piece combo, which was very good. Good lighting, good costumes. The audience loved it.
So what happened at SaddleBrooke?
We didn't sell squat up there; they didn't fill my theater for me. But that's all right. My board of directors said, "We'll worry about the money; you worry about the shows. You put the shows on." So we decided we're not going back to SaddleBrooke. There's no point to it: It's too damn far. ... When we have a 470-seat theater, and I have less than 200 for every performance, it's not worth it. You lose money. I brought in three actors from New York for the show.
New York, huh?
You really have connections everywhere, don't you?
Yes, I do. These weren't big names, but they were wonderful actors. And as I said, the audience loved it--just loved it--but there's no point in going back and risking that again.
You've landed the Leo Rich Theater at the Tucson Convention Center the first week in May. What are your plans there?
I called up my board president. I said, "I've got dates; it's a week later (than he originally planned to run performances). We're set now to do the show." He said, "Oh, do you know that week is a big biker convention and a bluegrass festival all over town, at the convention center and the hotel?" He's (the board president, who's also a biker) part of it. I said, "Oh, now what?"
So he said, "You know, that could really work to our advantage if you find the right show. They're not going to want to see a musical about a married couple. (Hundley had originally planned to put on I Do! I Do! about just such a couple.) Find something that will work." So I went through all of my scripts and scores I've got, and I found Pump Boys and Dinettes, which I've never seen. It's a six-person show that takes place in a gas station and a dinette. It's mostly bluegrass music and very little dialogue; all of the actors play musical instruments. Larry (Krauss), my board president, said, "See if you can tie bikers and bluegrass together." I said, "Well, this show is so free, I can probably do it."
All I need is a piano and a diner counter and stools--that's all I need. And microphones, because a lot of it is sort of concert-style. They sing at the mics. So, that'll work. ... All the actors sort of make their entrance--you know, sort of getting things set up. They come in, roll their bikes onto the stage, set them in the back--they're all service-station jockeys; that's where the "pump boys" comes from--and they change out of their leathers into the appropriate costume. We'll just have other guys do the same thing, and that'll tie it together. And then I was telling Larry, get the mayor and have him make a cameo appearance in his leathers--not saying a word, just coming into the diner part, sitting down and having a cup of coffee while everybody sings or whatever. And maybe (we could) find some notable for every performance to do (that cameo), and just have a good time. ...
What was the mayor's reaction to all this?
He hasn't been told about the cameo yet, but Larry's talked to him about the show and the company, and he thinks it's great.
Do you have anyone else in mind?
Not yet. ... All this happened--boom--just like that. And, of course, I'm one of these people (where) that's the way I work. I plan my shows well in advance--rehearsal schedules and things like that. But sometimes when I get something going, I just go with it. I don't sit around and think about it.