Friday, February 24, 2012

The Spidey Project Spins Its Web Over Los Angeles

Ryan J. Hill as Peter Parker
Photos Courtesy of Theatre Unleashed

Theatre Unleashed is launching its 5th season with the West Coast premiere of a musical that made big waves in 2011, Justin Moran’s The Spidey Project: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility. The original Broadway parody musical opened and closed before another highly publicized spider-musical could get off the ground…and it did it with no budget. Now Theatre Unleashed brings it to Los Angeles for a run that begins March 8 at Studio/Stage.

According to Theatre Unleashed’s managing director, Gregory Crafts, "The show is a natural fit for us. Actually, I think it was kind of fate. Last February, the show's creator, Justin Moran, put out a video on YouTube saying that he was going to write, score, cast, rehearse and produce a Spider-Man musical in thirty days with a budget of $0 and have it officially open before Turn Off the Dark did. I happened to see that video on Facebook about ten minutes after he posted it, and I reached out to Justin to offer my support."

Crafts helped spread the word about the show via his social networking sites and continued to follow its development. He was especially thrilled when they posted a video of the run on YouTube.

"I was blown away by the show's success and was amazed by the quality of the script and the music. I was also heartbroken that the show only ran one night in New York. I thought it deserved more…a lot more. So, when we started considering shows for our 2012 season, I contacted Justin and he was very open to the idea of us bringing The Spidey Project out west. The rest is history."

Darren T. Mangler as The Scorpion manhandles
Ryan J. Hill as Spider-Man

Crafts says The Spidey Project is a show that anyone can enjoy and appreciate. "It's faithful to the Spider-Man origin story, and hardcore Spider-fans will find all kinds of fun references and homages to the comic, yet it's accessible even to people who have never read a Spider-Man comic book. Also, I've gotten a lot of questions about whether the show is family-friendly or not. I would say it is, with the caveat that there is some profanity in it. If parents are okay with their kids seeing a show with a couple of swear words, I think they will absolutely love it and have a great time."

One of the fun twists about the musical is that it will feature a new Dr. Spiderman (pronounced ("spiddermin") every night. Crafts adds that the company has invited a variety of "name" talent to step into the role for a night. "It's a non-singing cameo with only one page of dialogue, but there's a lot of opportunity to do some really fun character work. It's the kind of role that a good actor can jump into, have a great time, and potentially steal the show.

We've got some really talented folks lined up, including Justin Moran, the creator of The Spidey Project, who will be joining us from New York for a night at the end of March. He played the role during the show's one-night run in New York, and we're all excited to have him join us. Another one of our surprise actors is the lead of an upcoming series on Showtime. We still have a few nights to fill but the character is drawing a lot of interest from Hollywood actors. It’s the first time we've ever done anything like this and it's really exciting!"

You can check out a sneak preview of songs from the show at Meltdown Comics on Sunset Boulevard this Saturday February 25 at 8pm. The variety show is a night of stand-up comedy, improv, and illusion, and will include portions of The Spidey Project prior to its opening on March 8.

TU is creating a number of additional opportunities as part of The Spidey Project experience. One of them is their partnership with Children's Hospital Los Angeles for a book drive to benefit their Literally Healing program. Crafts says, "CHLA has given us a wish list of titles and we've provided a list of locally owned children's bookstores on our blog that carries those books. Anyone that brings a NEW copy of one of the titles on their list to our box office can name their ticket price to see The Spidey Project at the door. We recommend that anyone who wants to contribute to the book drive reserve their seats in advance by calling our box office line at (818) 849-4039."

They are also collecting fan-made tributes to Spider-Man to display in the lobby of the theatre. "We're calling this effort the Spidey (Lobby) Project," he laughs. "We've had a lot of great drawings come in, mostly from kids, and we've collected a bunch of Spidey Haikus from our Facebook fans. Anyone interested in contributing can find all of the details about the Lobby Project on our blog. We want this to be a display of heartfelt tributes to one of the most iconic and beloved comic book characters of all time, created by fans for fans. Just like the show itself."

They’re even reaching out to the organizers at Comic Con International about an appearance/performance at WonderCon in Anaheim in March and San Diego Comic Con in July. Luckily Crafts is a man who knows how to dream big. "I know it seems like we're reaching out pretty far in a lot of different directions but this show represents a huge opportunity for us. A year ago, I was dreaming we'd get the West Coast premiere of a show that hadn't even been written yet and now it's happening. I love working with the folks at Theatre Unleashed because no idea is too 'out there.' This group is all about thinking big, trying the impossible, and making dreams come true. That's why I love them."

The Spidey Project is quickly becoming the hottest ticket in town, with several of the early dates already sold out. You can get more information on Theatre Unleashed’s website at

The Spidey Project, March 8-April 14, 2012, Thursdays-Saturdays at 8pm. Studio/Stage, 520 N. Western Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90004. Additional dates may be added.

Cast: Ryan J. Hill (Peter Parker), Krista Taylor (Gwen Stacy), Ben Atkinson (J. Jonah Jamison), Justin Baker (Kent Holbrook), Kyle Cooper( Flash), Gregory Crafts (Dr. Spiderman), Melissa Jobe (Aunt May), Darren T. Mangler (Uncle Ben), Lauren Turner (Betty), Jude Evans and Heather Lake (Swings)

Production Team: david chrzanowski (director & fight choreographer), Joanna Mercedes (choreographer), Jordan Ostrowski (music director), Katie Sikkema (scenic and costume designer), Michelle Stann (lighting designer), Corwin Evans (video/projection designer), Erin Scott (stage manager)

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