Alumni of the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts return to the Fringe stage for the fifth straight year, now with a new company name and a brand new musical. Fully Charged Productions debuts How to Have it All: The Musical at Capital Fringe 2013.
When work, kids, love, and life give you lemons …brush on some lip gloss and bring out the fresh baked cookies and, sure, serve a little lemonade.
The Fully Charged Fringe team knew they wanted to tackle a controversial topic from go. Last summer, when the team first discussed pursuing Fringe 2013, the hot and heated topic of the moment among young professionals and ambitious Washington types was the article Why Women Still Can’t Have It All by Anne-Marie Slaughter in The Atlantic.
“It was lighting up Facebook. Young mothers, like me, were weighing in; our mothers’ generation was weighing in,” said Jessica North Macie, Project Coordinator for Fully Charged’s newest endeavor. “And, the themes Slaughter raised in that article which sparked so much debate are still being discussed and raising some powerful emotions for people. Whether it was Betty Friedan in 1963 or Sheryl Sandberg of 2013 – whenever it comes up it seems to lead to a throw down.”
The team members’ debates inspired by that article escalated into a smattering of sketches, skits, and original songs. “We had everything from Drivers’ Ed, to Barbies, to spanx” says North Macie of early version of the script. At first, the writers thought they had a variety show on their hands, “But, very soon a real story emerged from some of our favorite characters in the sketches, and we suddenly decided to tackle a musical. That’s where the momentum took us.”
How to Have it All is the story of working mom, Ann, and her battle to maintain her ambitious, glass-ceiling-busting, climb to the top while still making time to bake cookies with the kids. Being the successful and resourceful woman she is, Ann employs the services of the Barbara Companies, Inc. and is assigned to life-coach-in-training, Manny, who assures her if she just commits to the “process” she will not only have it all but can “wrap it up in a Tiffany box and call it happiness.”
As Ann soldiers through the “process” from a Stepford-Wife-style boot camp to Diva lessons, the tone of the play stays light and comical. Musical numbers like “We Can’t Stop Saying Sorry” are deftly staged by William Diggle. The show’s director, co-writer, and Conservatory alumnus and faculty member Ricardo Frederick Evans knows the stage, the script, and the actors well – his guidance is helping the play come to life.
Fully Charged originally formed in 2005 as the alumni committee of the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts. As such, all company members are trained professional actors and their shows are notable for sharply skilled performances – like those in An Adult Evening with Shel Silverstein for Capital Fringe 2011, and Madwoman in the Attic in the 2012 Festival.
Now, with How to Have it All the group tackles developing new writing for the first time. It is an ambitious feat but not entirely without precedent, as many of the members of Fully Charged are graduates of Actors’ Repertory Theatre where they first learned to participate in the development of a new play. Local playwright Allyson Currin’s Late Bloomers and Glory Days was developed for Actors’ Repertory Theater in 2005 and remounted by this company in their first Capital Fringe experience in 2009. North Macie says, “We’ve seen a model for developing new work, and we have had practice as actors working on new plays. We have some excellent role models.”
Writers on this project have had some early success of their own, too. Ricardo Frederick Evans co-wrote and staged Dear Mr. President, a night of political comedy in 2009. Jessica North Macie is the writer and lyricist for two children’s musicals which first appeared at Charter Theater and now her show The Wakeness Monster is on stage this summer at Totem Pole Playhouse in Fayetteville, PA. Cristen Stephansky’s screenplay Yummy Pie was filmed during her year in Actors’ Repertory Theatre and can be seen on the Conservatory’s Vimeo channel. The cast includes Conservatory alumni Alanna Mensing , Aniko Olah , Dane C. Petersen, Jose Pineda , Susan S. Porter, and Damia Tohagen (who also contributed as a writer).
As an accredited actor-training academy, the Conservatory operates under the oversight of the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, and the US Department of Education; and its students are eligible to receive federal student loans and grants. The Conservatory’s two-year, intensive, actor-training program – which is firmly rooted in the teachings of Michael Chekhov, Michel Saint-Denis and Constantin Stanislavsky – provides students with 1,800 hours of instruction, practice and rehearsal in 16 months. The Conservatory’s faculty consists of actors, directors and playwrights who are actively employed in the DC-area theatre and film community. The Conservatory has been training people for careers in acting since 1975.
How to Have it All: The Musical, will play at The Shop at Fort Fringe, 607 New York Ave, NW DC on: Saturday, July 13 at 6:45 pm; Sunday, July 14 at 9:15 pm; Thursday, July 18 at 8:00 pm; Sunday, July 21 at 12 pm; Thursday, July 25 at 5:45 pm.
Purchase tickets here.
This production is presented as a part of the 2013 Capital Fringe Festival, a program of the Washington, DC non-profit Capital Fringe.