On Tuesday, April 18, the NYC-based Iconoclast Theatre Collective hosted a celebration of theater, community, and new musical development with a party held at The Dickens – a recently opened four-level event space, restaurant, and cocktail bar in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of midtown Manhattan – to launch the latest projects of its 2023-24 season. Co-founded by collaborators Rachel Klein, Andy Peterson, and Erik Ransom during the pandemic hiatus of live in-person performances in 2020, the non-profit company is dedicated to theatricalized musical storytelling, both on and off stage, that is accessible to everyone. Recent works by ITC include concert versions of GRINDR: The Opera (the full-stage production of which garnered Ransom London’s prestigious 2019 Off West End Award for Best New Musical) and The Songs of Fiveboro, comprised of selections from the twelve-episode Webby-nominated epic audio series The World to Come (available across all podcast platforms), both of which were presented live at The Green Room 42 and nominated for Broadway World Awards.
Directed by Klein, the evening featured sensational live performances by drag chanteuse and emcee Plasma (who last appeared with ITC at The GR42 as the personification of GRINDR) and special guest Badia Farha (Broadway’s School of Rock and Little Shop of Horrors; Off-Broadway’s Broadway Bounty Hunter and Sistas: The Musical), who entertained the audience of theater artists, press agents, and fans with the world premiere of two songs (the titular number and “The Hunter Becomes the Prey”) from Iconoclast’s upcoming musical The 13th Child by Peterson and Ransom, which tells the tale of NJ’s favorite cryptid, The Jersey Devil.
Librettist and lyricist Ransom shared his sources of inspiration for the new musical, noting that, “Now in my dotage as a geriatric millennial I’ve been thinking back to what got me into musicals in the first place. For me, it was the film version of Little Shop of Horrors. A brilliant blend of period pastiche, science fiction, and a starkly stylized form of comedy that shaped my own sense of humor in my most formative years. The 13th Child is my answer to that primal call from my youth. Where Little Shop exaggerates the world of the early ‘60s, we are taking on the late ‘80s and the iconic horror movie tropes that characterized the films of that era.”
And for composer Peterson, “The music of The 13th Child is inspired by some of the great pop-rock artists from the ‘80s, like Bonnie Tyler, Pat Benatar, and AD/DC, and, because we’re in Jersey, we had to include some Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen. I also wanted to pay homage to the legendary horror music composers of the era, like John Carpenter, Christopher Young, Goblin, and Jerry Goldsmith. This fun mix of genres will, I’m hoping, transport you back to the ‘80s.”
Along with the presentation of a staged musical reading of The 13th Child, the upcoming initiatives of ITC include an EP of songs from its internationally produced legacy project GRINDR: The Opera, a queer opus for the modern age; a New Works concert featuring songs from emerging musical theater voices, uplifting and promoting the work of up-and-comers from eclectic backgrounds; and a series of animated music videos from the hit audio series The World to Come, illustrated by artist Scott Lilly @ Doodles by Scott. You can watch the video trailer for the series below:
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