Call Answered: Adam Overett: Popesical: A Papal Musical Comedy: 2015 NYC International Fringe Festival
It's Adam x 2! Can you handle all this Adam?? I first came to know Adam Overett when I attended Bound for Broadway with Liz Callaway in 2013. I was so impressed by Adam's performance (okay and good looks), I knew, I just had to talk with him. Well, after two years of staying in touch, I am overjoyed that we finally get to do an interview together for his show Popesical: A Papal Musical Comedy that is premiering in the 2015 NYC International Fringe Festival from August 20-29 at Theatre 80 in NYC's East Village (80 St. Marks Place), presented by Tilted Windmills Theatricals. Click here for tickets!
In Popesical: A Papal Musical Comedy, The Pope is dead. The Cardinals gather in the Sistine Chapel, where they will compete in a series of grueling "Papal Challenges" to choose the new Pope. For whom will the white smoke rise?
1. Your show, Popesical, is playing in the NYC International Fringe Festival from August 20-29. What made you want to bring Popesical to the Fringe Festival as opposed to one of the other theatrical festivals in the city? This is my first show with the Fringe, but the producers of POPESICAL, Tilted Windmills Theatricals, have produced shows at the Fringe before, including SILENCE! THE MUSICAL and YEAST NATION, so they know the territory and thought Fringe was the best place to start this show off. They love the fun, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants scrappiness of this festival, and I've been having a blast myself. It's a great lesson in being flexible and economical, and I love theater that calls on those qualities.
2. Popesical is about a group of Cardinals who compete in top-secret "Papal Challenges" to succeed the Pope. What made you want to write this show? When Pope John Paul II died, I was fascinated by the idea of this conclave, this centuries-old tradition that is conducted entirely in secret in the Sistine Chapel, one of the most incredible rooms on earth. I found myself wondering, what could they possibly be doing and talking about in there? How does one prove that he is the best person to serve as the Vicar of Christ? Years later, I had the opportunity to write a 15-minute show in a week for a group of eight talented theater students from UC Irvine, and I wrote a short piece about the conclave, with all of them in Cardinal roles that showed off their particular talents. As I worked on it, I started to think it was also, in a way, a kind of metaphor for religion -- you don't know what happens in there, so you have to take it on faith. You are asked to trust what is hidden from you, what you can't see. And I think that faith and trust have their upsides and their downsides, and I'm very interested in that. So I expanded it into a full-length musical.
3. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Popesical? I want them to laugh like crazy. And then I want them to be surprised to find themselves really moved. And I hope they leave thinking that maybe the real point of all this -- all these traditions, all this faith and trust -- is to learn to love each other and ourselves better.
4. If you could give people one reason as to why they should come see Popesical, what would that reason be? If you don't, you'll go to hell. It's definitely one of the Commandments.
5. What excites you about having this cast bring Popesical to life? What made you want to have Drew Geraci direct this show? In my first conversation with Drew, I knew he had both the humor and the heart that this show requires -- that he really got it, and that we were passionate about it in the same way. Same with the cast -- they're unbelievable. Watching them in rehearsals is a total delight. Each of them belongs in this crazy conclave. Being an actor myself, I find that the best part of creating a show is finding a synergy between the material and the cast, and the connection among the actors themselves. I want the cast of this show to feel like a family, a wacky family of Cardinals that love to play together, and with this group we've found them. It's incredibly rewarding.
6. Who or what inspired you to become a writer/performer? I started writing new lyrics to songs we learned in first grade. I showed them to my teacher and she said, "You should be a lyricist. Do you know what is?" I didn't, but I was happy to find out. Not long after that, I started listening to cast albums, thinking, "I want to have made this, and to be in it." And off I went.
7. What's the best advice you've ever received? "People will try to pigeon-hole you. Don't let them. Be yourself." It can be very hard -- to trust yourself, love yourself, be yourself -- but it is always the best thing you can do. I got this from a producer I worked for shortly after graduating college. He turned out to be very right. (And a good producer -- he won the Tony for GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE).
8. What have you learned about yourself from being a writer/performer? I've learned a lot about the different sides I have. It may be sort of a given that a writer's main character will reflect the writer strongly, but I've found that every character, including the villains, expresses something I carry in me. I find myself surprised after writing something, like, "I didn't know I thought or felt that way."
After writing this show, I realized I have a much more complex relationship with religion than I thought I did. My stories tend to be about people who find in themselves a greater strength than they ever thought they had. So perhaps a lot of what I do as a writer is looking for my own inner strength.
9. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Flying. Cliche I know, but I think it would be freaking awesome.
10. Favorite way to stay in shape? Ice cream and pizza. They have never steered me wrong.
11. Boxers or Briefs? Briefs, or boxer-briefs. Some compromise can be a good thing.
As a composer/lyricist/librettist, he is the creator of MY LIFE IS A MUSICAL (2014 world premiere production at Bay Street Theatre; 2013 developmental lab production at the Duke Theatre, produced by Martin Platt, David Elliott, Cheryl Wiesenfeld, Patrick Blake, Jhett Tolentino & Joan Raffe, 2013); POPESICAL (2012 developmental production at the Lyric Theatre in LA, 2013 concert performance at Joe’s Pub, NYC); CALL IT COURAGE (based on the Newbery Medal-winning book by Armstrong Sperry), which had its premiere youth production at the Zachary Scott Theatre in Austin, TX (2010), where it was nominated for five B. Iden Payne Awards, including Outstanding Original Script and Outstanding Production of Youth Theatre; and many other works. He also contributed music and additional lyrics to the current off-Broadway hit CLOWN BAR (The Box, summer 2014, NYC) by Adam Szymkowicz.
As an actor, Adam has appeared on Broadway and on national tour in THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA, understudying and performing the role of "Fabrizio." He played "Neil Kellerman" in the national tour of DIRTY DANCING, and is currently in the cast of MURDER FOR TWO at New World Stages, after appearing in productions of the show at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, the Adirondack Theatre Festival, and the 42nd St. Moon Theatre in San Francisco. He originated the role of "Herb" in the off-Broadway show JUNIE B. JONES (by Marcy Heisler & Zina Goldrich, based on the bestselling book series) at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, and has performed in many other productions throughout New York City and the country.
He has been a Musical Theater Fellow at the Dramatists Guild (2010-2011), a Lucille Lortel Award nominee for his contribution to the score of the Off-Broadway musical WE THE PEOPLE (2011), and a two-time Harrington Award winner as a member of both the BMI Advanced Musical Theater Workshop and Librettists Workshop. He has also been a resident writer at the Goodspeed Mercer Colony and CAP21 (2013). His song "My Sky," performed by Stephanie J. Block, is featured on the album No More Revivals, released by Sh-K-Boom Records.
Adam is a member of the Lehman Engel Musical Theater Advanced Workshop at BMI, where he won the Jerry Harrington Award for Excellence. He has studied musical theater writing with Tony Award-winners Lynn Ahrens & Stephen Flaherty (RAGTIME), Adam Guettel (THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA), and with Andrew Lippa (THE ADDAMS FAMILY), and participated in the Nautilus Workshop on musical theatre collaboration at New Dramatists in 2010. Adam has also authored the short musical MAKING THE CALL; the screenplay The Swallow’s Nest; and several plays, including PASSPORT, STANDING GUARD, and THE BIRDBATH.
Adam is a graduate of Yale University, where he earned a B.A. in dramatic literature and music, and won the John Golden Prize for New Musicals. He is represented by Abrams Artists.