For director and writer Gregg D. Garner, the Road to TPAC has come quite easily for his play, “ALIEN: The Musical.” About four years ago, Gregg wrote a song called “Alien” for a recording project.
“As soon as I started penning the tune, I could hear the voices of people I’ve met over the years; people who struggle to have life because their new home is inhospitable to them, they were singing the song. These vivid characters with compelling stories to tell, were giving me the words to write – I had to tell their story,” says Garner.
Now fast forward four years to August of 2014, the Arts of Center Street wants to help Garner tell his story from the song he had written – “Alien.” Performance dates are set for December; rehearsals are to begin in September; and auditions are scheduled for the end of August. It is crunch time for Garner to create a masterpiece from his song and make it stage ready.
“I basically just wrote one page of script for people’s auditions – guy characters and girl characters. It would just be enough to see what people could be capable of doing,” states Garner. Based on the auditions, Garner is then able to pen the entire musical to make it fit for everyone who auditioned. He expresses, “I wanted to make sure that every single person got a part.” The entire musical is written in a 7-8 hour time span, while Garner is traveling home from a trip to Africa.
“ALIEN: The Musical” first debuted on a small stage at the Arts of Center Street in December of 2014. “We were only supposed to do one weekend originally,” says Garner. “The first night came and it was full. By 8:30 the next morning, we had sold out the rest of the weekend shows. It was really exciting and we were just going to be done. But there was so much feedback that we went ahead and did it again in January.” The show returned to the stage for nine SOLD OUT shows in January.
Garner received lots of incredible feedback about the performance from audience go-ers during the December and January shows. “I kept hearing, ‘I hate musicals, but I love this one,'” states Garner. “I think it might be because my background is in writing pop music. This musical is something of a hybrid. It’s not your traditional musical. There’s a lot of comedy, drama and the songs are conveniently put in as radio friendly tunes.”
One feedback Garner received was from a former Broadway agent who came to see the performance. “She said that the play was already ready, but that we needed a big stage,” explains Garner. In mid-May of this year, the decision to move it to a bigger stage was made and so the Road to TPAC began.
“I’m a really tough critic on myself. I knew the play was really amazing and the actors really bring it to life so well,” says Garner. “I think that being the kind of critic that I am on myself, I just wasn’t sure that it could handle the TPAC stage.” He tested it out at a few other place and did a few more shows. Garner says,”I kept getting the same results. It felt like magic! So by the time May rolled around I was like let’s make this happen!”
After a dozen sold-out performances, “ALIEN: The Musical” and its charismatic cast of 43 has come to the big stage to make their statement.
“This play is more than a political piece, it’s a human piece,” says Garner. Audiences have called it ‘life-changing’ and have left the musical with a new awakening of what it means to love.
ALIEN: The Musical opens July 23 and runs through July 26 at TPAC’s James K. Polk Theater. For tickets and more information, visit the ALIEN: The Musical website.