In my next NYMFerview, "Call Me Adam" chats with writer, composer, and lyricists Drew Fornarola and Marshall Pailet about their new show Claudio Quest which will be directed by Tony and Emmy nominee John Tartaglia. Claudio Quest makes it's premiere this summer in NYMF from July 7-14! Click here for tickets!
Claudio Quest is a new musical comedy that follows a very super hero, his less super little brother, and one butt-kicking princess, as the three embark on a mission to overcome killer eggplants, a love-starved platypus, and their own 8-bit existential crisis.
For more on Claudio Quest be sure to visit http://nymf.org/festival/2015-events/claudio-quest!
1. This summer, your show Claudio Quest is being featured in NYMF. This show is a new musical comedy that follows a very super hero, his less super little brother, and one butt-kicking princess, as the three embark on a mission to overcome killer eggplants, a love-starved platypus, and their own 8-bit existential crisis. What made you want to write Claudio Quest?
Drew Fornarola: The genesis was NYMF-related, actually! My first musical, College The Musical, was produced at NYMF years ago, and board member Charlie Fink saw it. Charlie took me to breakfast after the festival and said "I loved your show and want to commission your next project. What do you want to do?” And I said "I’ve got this idea for a show that’s sort of like Avenue Q meets 80s video games" and Charlie said "I can’t quite picture it, but I trust you," which is honestly just about the greatest thing a producer can ever say to a writer. And thanks to Charlie’s generosity, Claudio Quest was conceived over lukewarm hash browns and coffee on Madison Avenue.
Marshall Pailet: Drew then called me up, I was still a senior in college, and he said I’ve got this opportunity and I’d love to write it with you. He pitched me on the idea and I said "Yeah! And they’ll all have existential angst!"
Drew Fornarola: And I said "it’s a comedy."
Marshall Pailet: And I said "Yeah! And then we’ll kill off some of our leading characters!"
Drew Fornarola: It's a comedy.
Marshall Pailet: Yeah.
2. How did you come to work together? What has been the best part about this collaboration?
Marshall Pailet: We balance each other well. I’m a morning person, Drew’s a night person. I’m structure, and Drew’s tone. I’m groove and Drew’s melody. I’m handsome, and Drew’s –
Drew Fornarola: Smart?
Marshall Pailet: Yup.
Drew Fornarola: I have a long relationship with NYMF having done two productions and been involved in numerous concerts here over the years. When this opportunity presented itself, and the team that we’ve built around the show wanted to help us do it, it was a no-brainer for us.
Marshall Pailet: It’s a great honor to be selected and we’re thrilled to be included this year! The community of artists that NYMF assembles and the energy and enthusiasm they have for new work is second to none.
4. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Claudio Quest?
Marshall Pailet: At the premiere of this piece in Washington DC, we were actually reviewed by a videogame magazine, which said "it’s really good, even if you didn’t grow up with a controller in your hand," and I think that’s really what it’s all about. Sure, the piece is (hopefully) really funny, and it evokes a nostalgia for a certain place and time, but it’s also a great, universal love story.
Drew Fornarola: Maybe they’ll leave with a song or two stuck in their head, too!
Marshall Pailet: Tartiggles is a perfect fit for our show. I’m sure he likes it when I call him Tartiggles.
Drew Fornarola: He definitely doesn’t.
Marshall Pailet: He’s a friend of ours, and since the show is tonally in a similar world to Avenue Q we naturally thought of him as an actor for it. He came and did a table read and really responded to the material, and we thought "man, if we’re really lucky, maybe he might direct it." We shyly asked if he might be interested, and somehow he actually said yes.
Drew Fornarola: Acting, directing, puppets…it’s really not fair that he’s so good at everything.
6. Who or what inspired you to become writers/lyricists?
Drew Fornarola: I decided in the back right corner of the balcony at the Majestic Theater when I was ten years old that I wanted to write musicals. It was the end of Act 1 when the "Phantom" is up in the angel crying because he realizes "Christine" really loves "Raoul." I took four years off to study politics at Princeton, but other than that I’ve really never deviated from this path.
Marshall Pailet: Writing began as something I did as a child with my dad, who is a noted lyricist in his own right. I also came from a performing background as a child. This has been in my blood for as long as I can remember.
Drew Fornarola: My dad, teaching me to catch a football when I was about three: "watch it all the way into your hands, squeeze it with your fingers, and then pull it in." I didn’t drop many passes in childhood, and I try not to let too many opportunities slip through my fingers as an adult.
Marhsall Pailet: Be the hardest worker you know.
8. What have you learned about yourselves from being writers/lyricists?
Marshall Pailet: I’ve learned how hard this form really is. Everything has to gel absolutely perfectly for the musical to be a success. It’s a really unforgiving task. That said, when it all comes together properly, there’s nothing quite like it.
Drew Fornarola: Redbull and Cheez its have become important parts of my life.
9. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose?
Marshall Pailet: The ability to get my dog to stop trying to kill Drew when he comes to my apartment.
Drew Fornarola: The ability to give Marshall the ability to do that.
Drew Fornarola: I have one! I wrote a song called "alcoholeluia" for a show, and at a production in Gainesville, FL the theater’s bartender created a drink with that name. It had a little of everything in it, was served in a pint glass, and was a strange blue color. They eventually had to stop selling them because patrons kept throwing up at intermission.
Marshall Pailet: I had a show called Triassic Parq and we had a drink called the T-Rex 1. It was better than Drew’s show’s drink.
Drew Fornarola: But my drink is bigger.
Marshall Pailet: Yeah.
More on Drew:
Drew Fornarola is a songwriter and playwright from New York. He holds a B.A. from Princeton, a J.D. from The Fordham University School of Law, and is an alumnus of the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop. He is currently developing both a new stage musical and an animated movie for DreamWorks. Theater: Molly Shannon’s Tilly The Trickster (Atlantic Theatre Company, collaboration with SNL's Molly Shannon, pub. Theatrical Rights Worldwide); Thucydides (Winner Samuel French Play Festival, pub. Samuel French); COLLEGE The Musical (NYMF Award for Excellence, pub Dramatic Publishing Co.); Claudio Quest: A Videogame Musical (Best Musical, DC Fringe, optioned by DreamWorks); and 2 musicals for children. NYMF Award for Excellence in Lyrics, John Wallowitch Award for Songwriting, Finalist for the 2014 Kleban Award and 2009 Richard Rodgers Award, four-time MAC Award nominee. Drew’s new play, STRAIGHT, is under option by Tony Award-winning producer Andy Sandberg, and highlights from his musical TIANANMEN premiered in a March 2014 concert at 54 Below starring Telly Leung and Ruthie Ann Miles. In 2013 Drew provided string arrangements for #1 charting Japanese hip hop band CREAM. http://www.drewfornarola.com
More on Marshall:
As Composer/Bookwriter: Triassic Parq (Off Broadway, Soho Playhouse; Chance Theater, Ovation Award - Best Musical; Best Musical NY Fringe); Loch Ness (World Premiere, Chance Theater); Shrek the Halls (In Development with Dreamworks Theatricals); Veggie Tales: Noah's Ark; Who's Your Baghdaddy, or How I Started the Iraq War (Best Musical DC Fringe '11; Osborn Award Nominee); Super Claudio Bros. (Best Musical DR Fringe '10); The Chocolate Tree (NAMT, Houston Stages); Where It's At, The Darq Knight; Upcoming projects in development with Dreamworks Theatricals/Animation, Big Idea, RKO, and the New Musical Foundation. As Director: Triassic Parq (Ovation Nomination - Best Director); Loch Ness; Eudaemonia; Who's Your Baghdaddy; Super Claudio Bros.; Uncle Pirate; Stuck; The 49 Project; Thursday; With Kings in the Back; The 70 Scene of Halloween; Bat Boy; Escape Artists; One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Resident Playwright Chance Theater, Graduate of Yale University. http://www.marshallpailet.com