In my second NYMFerview, "Call Me Adam" chats with American Idol's Jon Peter Lewis, The Voice's Ryan Hayes, and Garrett Sherwood, the creatives behind Deep Love: A Ghostly Rock Opera which will be making it's NYMF debut this July as part of their "Next Link Project" July 17-24! Click here for tickets!
1. This summer, your musical Deep Love: A Ghostly Rock Opera is part of NYMF's Next Link Project series which includes a run of the show during the festival. Out of the hundreds of submissions received, your show was just 1 of 10 to be selected as part of this series. What went through your minds when you found out Deep Love was selected? What does it mean to you to be part of NYMF 2015?
Jon Peter Lewis: I reenacted the entire movie of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off…in my mind. It was like I was at the front of the parade, on top of the float, doing my best John Lennon impression of "Twist and Shout" while the marching band was shaking their brass and random pedestrians became back up dancers. This show started in my living room five years ago and has grown so much. We never anticipated this opportunity and it’s an honor to be a part of NYMF 2015 and to perform in the heart of where musicals are made.
Ryan Hayes: I was beyond excited to learn that we had been selected for NYMF, though honestly I wasn't truly aware that we had even submitted our script until Jon called me with the good news. I guess that's what happens when you work with a good team; you get good surprises.
Garrett Sherwood: After doing Deep Love for four years, we had seen it grow and grow. We had big dreams about how far this show could go, but we had yet to have that moment when we could clearly see an opportunity to achieve our ultimate goals. We always knew the show had great potential, so it was always just a matter of getting it in front of the right people. When we found out that we were selected as a Next Link Project for NYMF, it was like the clouds lifted and I finally had that "moment," I could see that this was the big opportunity we had been hoping for.
Jon Peter Lewis: Truthfully, I didn’t know of any other festivals.
Ryan Hayes: On matters of networking and industry I often defer to Jon or Garrett's judgment on the best route to take. If they say it's hot then it's gotta be hot.
Garrett Sherwood: Honestly, I couldn't name any of the other theatre festivals if I tried. At least for the part of Ryan and myself, we don't exactly pay much attention to the goings ons of the theatre world outside our own little realm. Lucky we have Jon though for that exact reason. Last Fall we had just showcased at the Arts Northwest Festival in Eugene, Oregon, and we had a fairly positive experience. The week after Jon let me know that there was such a thing as NYMF, it was kind of a big deal, and the deadline was coming up, and we should really apply. So we did.
Jon Peter Lewis: Ryan and Garrett are my closest friends. What more could I ask than to work at something I love with good company?
Ryan Hayes: Both Garrett and Jon can attest that collaboration has never been my strong suit. Even so, I have been humbled time and again at the craft that these two bring to the table on their own. I think that because we all respect each other's creative privacy it provides greater contrast within the show, and collectively we appeal to a much wider audience than we would individually.
Garrett Sherwood: We are all very opinionated and stubborn. And while that leads to some arguments on some things, it actually provides an environment that is very conducive to quality creation. The best part about our collaboration is when one of the other members says something like "we really need to try this, trust me," and you think "that's a terrible idea, but what the hell, let's try it," and then it turns out they were right and you were wrong, and the production is better for it. We've had quite of few of those moments where one of us gets proved wrong by one of the other two cohorts, and it's a wonderful thing.
Jon Peter Lewis: I just hope they enjoy the music and have a good time.
Ryan Hayes: My hope is that the characters and melodies live on in the hearts and minds of our audience. There is a little of each character in all of us, I believe.
Garrett Sherwood: Every time we've performed Deep Love in the past, we have audience members who tell us that they "thought it would be good, but had no idea it would be that good." And that's what I hope for the future as well. I want the audience to leave feeling guilty for underestimating how much fun they were going to have at the theatre that night.
5. All three of you are musicians, so how did you decide that just Ryan and Garrett would write the music/lyrics, while all three of you wrote the book?
Jon Peter Lewis: I came into the project after Garrett and Ryan had written most of the music and lyrics. I helped them put the book together once we realized that we needed to expand the show a bit.
Ryan Hayes: The music and story of Deep Love has always been mine and Garrett's domain because the show is our brainchild. We took Jon aboard when much of the music and story were already scripted. There was a critical moment, however, when I realized that the parts I had been writing for Old Bones were beyond my vocal capacity and that's when Jon came on board (to save the day). As this little show began to build steam we brought Jon aboard to help develop the stage production and direction aspects.
Garrett Sherwood: Ryan and I wrote the music and lyrics back in 2010. We brought Jon on as a performer for the original performance after the show was already written. All of our roles in the production have adapted over the years, and for the last couple years Jon has been our stage director as well. As Deep Love is told completely through song (there is no spoken dialogue), we didn't have a book until Jon volunteered to help put the book together for submission into NYMF. He obviously did a really good job.
6. Deep Love is about love, loss, and indecisions when lovers become adversaries. What has been your greatest love so far? What has been your greatest loss? When in your life have you had an indecisive moment?
Jon Peter Lewis: Ooooo, I don’t know if I want to get into my loves and losses. Lets just say that they have been both great and terrible. I experience extreme indecision every time I see a beautiful woman.
Ryan Hayes: My greatest love has been part music, part people. People inspire the music, and each new song changes who I am. My greatest loss has perhaps been the inevitable loss of time and my own youth. If I had a wish I would probably like to live it all over again once I reach the end.
Garrett Sherwood: My greatest love is my wife Brittany. My greatest loss is the countless amount of friends I've made, but whose friendships are reduced to Facebook, because I don't ever see them. As far as indecision, how bout every time I open Netflix and I think "lemme just browse for something to watch."
Jon Peter Lewis: The Beatles, Jackson Browne, Rogers & Hammerstein, and my dad.
Ryan Hayes: I think my inability to communicate well verbally has always been a motive to present a thought carefully through song.
Garrett Sherwood: When I was in 9th grade I was signed up for High School Football. I went the first day of practice and immediately realized that my youth was too short to be doing something that required wearing protective gear all over my body. I left practice after 5 minutes and started learning to play the guitar that same day.
8. What's the best advice you've ever received?
Jon Peter Lewis: "It’ll all work out" - everyone
Ryan Hayes: "Don't mess with Mr. In-between"
Garrett Sherwood: Also when I was in the 9th grade (I guess that was a really formative year for me), I was in gym class and we were playing volleyball that day. I was put on a team with a bunch of burnouts. The game started and I began to play as competitively as my uncoordinated 14-year old body would allow. But just then, one of my teammates, a senior with a 2-foot-high green mohawk grabbed my shoulder and said, "Dude. Less is more." That changed my life. True story.
Jon Peter Lewis: Peter Petrelli from the first season of Heroes had the best super power ever. He could absorb everyone’s super power. I want that. Except, I’d have to be less lame than he was. But, maybe that’s what comes with being all-powerful. I should probably re-think this.
Ryan Hayes: I would like the ability to time travel.
Garrett Sherwood: The introvert in me wants to say invisibility, but truth is I really just want to fly. Don't we all?
10. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it and what ingredients would you put in it?
Jon Peter Lewis: It’s called the "Shawn-T" because it seems like the only exotic thing I drink ever since I did that "Insanity" program last year. Frozen bananas, dates soaked in coconut water, flax seed, vanilla extract, and almond milk.
Ryan Hayes: I call it the "Snake Bite": 1 part cream, 2 parts Coca Cola, 1 part rattlesnake venom. Sure to knock your socks off.
Garrett Sherwood: It would be called the Giblet Wiggler. Basically it would just be normal Mountain Dew, but served in an aluminum cup that has some electricity attached to it (not enough to really hurt you, just enough to make it really tingle).
11a. For Jon: You were on American Idol and The Voice. What was the best part about being on these competition shows? What did you learn from your time on there? The best part about being on TV was the free stuff. It was weird, people started just giving me things because I was famous. I remember once I took my friend to the dentist and while I was waiting for her in the lobby, the dentist walked by and recognized me. He offered me a free consultation and fillings in exchange for my picture on the wall. How could I say no?
American Idol and The Voice taught me that TV stars have TV shows and music stars have hit songs. Neither will give you that, so it’s best to take what you can and enjoy it while it lasts. Being on TV is fun.
11b. For Ryan: When not working on your music, you are a geologist. How do you feel your geology life has helped your musical life and vice versa? What did you enjoy most about being on The Voice? What did you learn from being on the show? I think it's a blessing to work in the sciences. I am a very right brained person and it truly helps to inspire creative fury having a balance of left-brained activity. I was very excited to work on The Voice primarily because I got to know many of the contestants who have become dear friends. Through the overall experience I have come to understand more plainly that what you see on TV is not always the truth about people or reality.
11c. For Garrett: You are a musician, yoga instructor, author, and poet. How do you feel all these avenues compliment each other? If you had to stop all of these but one, could you choose one you would do exclusively? I would write music. Even though life has gotten so busy lately that I don't seem to write that many songs anymore, it's still the one thing that I always feel ambitious about, always have dreams about, and always feel like there is more to say and more to express.
Jon is a celebrated musician who was a finalist on American Idol and competed on The Voice with Ryan Hayes as the folk duo Midas Whale. Jon met Ryan and Garrett in 2009 at an open mic in Rexburg, Idaho and joined in the collaboration of Deep Love. Jon's discography includes 3 solo albums and the folk duo's most recent release, Sugar House. For more on Jon visit www.jonpeterlewis.com.
As a contestant on Season 4 of The Voice, Ryan Hayes is a true son of the American West. He thrives on the excitement of discovery, which has led him to travel the world and become a student of many disciplines. Whilst he works professionally as a geologist, he is increasingly enchanted by the humanities and works most passionately as a songwriter. As part of the folk duo Midas Whale, Ryan released an album in 2014, titled Sugar House.
Garrett Sherwood, a native of Chicago Illinois, is a graduate of Political Science but his passions have led him to a life of diverse ambitions. He is a working musician, certified yoga instructor, as well as a published author and performer of poetry.