Hi, I’m Star. 32. Perfect daughter. Perfect student. Two degrees. Just like all of you.
I am also the writer, director and producer of a funky new musical How to Quit Your Day Job, premiering at the 2015 Capital Fringe Festival.
The Backstory: Two years ago, I took a giant leap of faith. I quit my job, moved to NYC to try and “make it” in the theatre world. Cut to 2 months later, I’m in line at Chipotle in Union Square and the cashier is saying loudly “Ma’am, your card has declined. Do you have another card?” I did not. I was broke. I made a decision right then and there that I had no choice – I had to move back home to Maryland. To my mom’s house. I was 30.
I didn’t make it. I’d failed. But a really cool thing happened that evening when I returned to my best friend Tim’s apartment in Brooklyn. I starting jotting down ideas that would eventually become How to Quit Your Day Job. It didn’t start as a musical; it started as just thoughts and words and whatever I was feeling in that moment. I was angry and frustrated and disappointed in myself. Doesn’t the universe know how bad I want this? Somewhere along the road these ruminations evolved into a one act musical about four people like me, who want so badly to live and thrive as an artist but find themselves having to work to pay the bills. “Carpe Diem” is great and all, but your student loan officer doesn’t care about your dreams.
There’s Kate (Shannan Johnson), the workaholic who brings her work laptop everywhere she goes – including happy hour; TJ (Vaughn Midder), the accountant who went to school for creative writing, yet all the writing he’s doing these days is passive aggressive in office emails; Manny (Olufemi Daaka), the actor/rapper starving artist, raised east of the river who is working on a one man show that he describes as equal parts Jay Z and Elaine Stritch at Liberty. Finally, there’s Izzy (Janani Ramachandran), the indecisive nonprofit professional who wants badly to quit her job and run off to NYC to become a big Broadway star. What could possibly go wrong? The four characters are based off facets of my personality, but also the experiences of friends (and strangers) I’ve met over the last two years. One day while sitting at the bar in Ben’s Next Door, I met an accountant who went to school to be a writer but “just kinda landed” in his job and now feels stuck.
The more I talk to people, the more I realize that How to Quit Your Day Job is based on the true story of almost every young adult living and (begrudgingly) working in DC, but also every X-er and Baby Boomer who may have had a dream that they put on hold and never picked back up as life got in the way. They say write what you know. I know failure and rejection and disappointment, but also hope and optimism. Though this musical was bred out of a place of anger and hopelessness (and to be honest, some self-pity), it evolved into a celebration of possibility.
If you want to know more about this show, visit our Facebook page where we are documenting the new musical development process and will be listing ticket information very soon. We’ve just launched a Kickstarter campaign, so if you want to help make this dream a reality (and get some really nice perks) take a look at our campaign and give whatever you can.
We have been selected to perform a selection from the show at The Fringe Preview night tonight, June 25th at Fringe Headquarters! Come see us perform!!
How to Quit Your Day Job ends with a number called “You’re Gonna Be Okay..” I’d like to think it’s true – that even though we don’t have everything figured out today, when it’s all said and done, we’re going to be just fine.
Corner Store Arts
– 900 South Carolina Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003
Friday 7/10 at 6:30 PM
Saturday 7/11 at 2:30 PM
Saturday 7/11 at 6:30 PM
Book and Lyrics by Star Johnson
Music by Justin Paschalides
Cast: Janani Ramachandran, Shannan E. Johnson, Vaughn Midder, and Olufemi Daaka
Director: Star Johnson
Assistant Director: Marquia Springer
Choreographer: Vanessa Terzaghi
Produced by Star Johnson under OpenStage New Works
Promoted by Bucharest Inside the Beltway
Click HERE for more information on How to Quit Your Day Job