Megan Hill is not only the playwright of The Last Class: A Jazzercize Play, but she gets a real workout playing the Instructor this weekend at The Klunch performing at The Capital Fringe’s Trinidad Theatre.
Joel: The Last Class: A Jazzercize Play is more than a jazzercize class. What will audiences see and experience when they come to see the show this weekend at The Trinidad Theatre?
Megan: They’ll see a story about a woman who is getting her livelihood ripped out from under her but still has a job to do and has to smile while doing it. They’ll see a story about friendship and how the terms of friendship can be so different for the two people involved. And they’ll see a lot of sweat.
When were you first introduced to jazzercize classe? Why jazzercize? How long did it take you to write it?
I was first introduced to the real Jazzercise when I was a kid and I was always drawn to it. The idea for the show had been percolating in my head for years, until I finally just had to do it. I initially had difficulty writing it, and then I realized I couldn’t write it if I didn’t have the class. So, in a way, I had to work backwards. I knew what I wanted to plot and structure to be, so I created the playlist that musically best told the story, then Sarita took the playlist and built the class, then she taught me the class and once I knew the class I could write the play.
When did jazzercise enter your life and what are some of your fondest memories of attending jazzercize classes? What are some of your not so fond memories that are not in the play?
I took a couple real Jazzercise classes to research the play. I had been going off of my childhood memories and the old videos from the 70s and 80s– so wasn’t sure what to expect and what it was like now. The first thing that struck me is how it stays really current, between the moves and the music. And it is HARD! Our class in the show is a cakewalk compared to a real class. The other thing that struck me was how diverse the clientele is– it’s beautiful. You see every age and every body type. The instructors are so dedicated and inspiring. I keep saying it, but one of the greatest joys of doing this show has been meeting all the amazing men and women involved in this community.
The play was performed in NYC before coming to DC. How is this performance similar and have you made any changes for the DC production?
The production is pretty much the same as the one in NYC. There are natural tweaks we have to make in different venues of how we use the space and also just in having different participants every night.
Introduce us to your fellow cast members. What do you like most about their performances?
Amy Staats plays MJ Fray, Kelsea’s right hand lady. I wrote the part for Amy. We love performing together and have a natural chemistry with one another (it also doesn’t hurt that we are friends in real life). Amy is an incredible comedic actor and she is always digging and finding new things about MJ. Kelsea has a big bulk of the text and Amy is a master of silent reactions– She can give so much with one look. Also, the character of MJ is someone who is very likable and Amy is one of the most likable people you’ll ever meet.
You also play Kelsea. How do you relate to her? What are you doing to prepare for the physical demands of the show?
I relate to Kelsea a lot and so do many people that have seen the show. I think most people can relate to being in a position where they have to put themselves on the line. What it means to devote yourself to a medium that is always changing– how do you stay relevant? When you care about something more than other people and believe in it more than other people. When your love of something is constant but the rest of the world seems to be fickle towards it. How and when do we adapt and evolve?
As for the physical demands: Amy and I have to be somewhat consistent about training for the show. We try to do it everyday so it stays in our bodies and so that we can maintain our stamina. We have to make sure we’re eating well, staying hydrated, and stretching. I don’t think either of us have ever done a show where outside forces have felt so scary: what will the show be like if you slept the wrong way? or something you ate isn’t sitting right? or your chest feels tight? or you have allergies? There’s no doing it at half– so the prospect of failure or injury is very present.
How would you describe Sarita Lou’s choreography and what have been some of the challenges and joys learning it and performing it?
Sarita is terrific dancer and choreographer but she also has a fitness background (Check out her hiphop cardio video and her web series FOR THE LOVE OF DANCE at www.saritalou.com) – so she naturally understood the structure of fitnesses class and group exercise.
Sarita drew from different methods of dance and cardio regimens and as a result, built a class that is SO fun. It was fun to learn and it’s so fun to perform every night– but it’s also a workout. Even though Amy and I have more stamina than when we first began it’s a workout that can still challenge us.
How did Director Margot Bordelon first get involved in the production. What has she brought to the production that you most admire?
Margot is one of my oldest and closest collaborators. When I first had the idea for a Jazzercize play she was the first person that came to mind to direct. She is a genius– she’s incredible with comedy, timing, and precision. I knew she had the technical chops to help shape how the text was going to fit with the movement but also, she really mines the story and pushes us, as actors, to be completely truthful and present. Margot is amazing at shaping goofy comedies but always finding the heart. This show has a lot of heart. She is so smart and has such a good eye– I don’t know how we could have done it without her.
What does the show have to say to today’s audiences of all ages?
I think the show asks a lot of questions: When do you stick to your guns? When do you let go? I think anyone that believes in anything can relate to that.
It’s been nice to see that the show really appeals to people of all ages. It’s a really fun show and fun is something any age can enjoy! We’ve had a few school groups see the show and one girl came up to us after and said she had never seen a play that was a comedy before and she didn’t know that theater could be like this. That was extremely gratifying to say the least.
Why should DC area audiences come and see The Last Class: A Jazzercize Play this weekend?
In this weather, take a break from the heat and watch other people sweat for a change. It’s a show where you can let loose, have a good time and maybe even get a little cry in. And it’s short enough that after you can still hit a party or a bar… or, who knows? maybe even a fitness class! We are so excited to bring this show to DC!
The Last Class: A Jazzercize Play has 4 Performances Only!
Friday, August 19th at 8 PM
Saturday, August 20th at 3 PM
Saturday, August 20th at 8 PM
Sunday, August 21st at 3 PM
At Logan Fringe Arts Space
1358 Florida Avenue, NE
in Washington, DC
FOR TICKETS, CALL (866) 811-4111, BUY THEM AT THE BOX OFFICE, OR PURCHASE THEM ONLINE.