Director Jeffrey MIndock and actor / singer Jeff Carney of Springfield Contemporary Theater joined us on KSMU’s “Arts News” to talk about SCT’s latest show, “Desperate Measures”, described as a Wild West musical based on ” Measure for Measure ”by Shakespeare. It will open next weekend and run August 13-15 and 19-22 on the TBS Operations Center Backlot, located at 2025 E. Chestnut Expressway in Pythian in eastern Springfield.
Show director Jeffrey Mindock provided a description of the show’s story. “It was a production that took place mostly off Broadway in my late teens. It’s traditionally a play told with six actors, and it tells the story of Johnny Blood, who is your traditional cowboy with shining eyes, (who) gets in some trouble and is sent to jail and sentenced to hang. . And for those of you who are familiar with William Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure”, you know where it leads. The city governor tells his sister, who is about to become a nun, that the only way to save Johnny’s life is to give up his chastity. And the sheriff steps in, because he wants to start a plot to make sure Johnny is saved. And the governor reveals himself as the monster he is. The plan is for one of the charming girls in the saloon to take the nun’s place. And if you’re still with me, all the more comedy follows! It’s just a really fun and energetic night.
Mindock, who works as the development director of Springfield Contemporary Theater, said this was his first opportunity to direct a show at TBS. “My background is that of Shakespeare and the musical. So when we were looking at what would be my first opportunity (at SCT), this sort of thing hit the right place. “
He calls the musical score of “Desperate Measures”, with music by David Friedman and a book and lyrics by Peter Kellogg, “one of the finest music written in contemporary theater.” And it’s beautifully sung ”by its cast SCT, which includes Aryn Bohannon (who also choreographed the show); Clayton Avery; Jeff Carney; Samantha Fleming; Megan Marques; Joey Myers; Ron Seney; and Justin Zickefoose, a mix of newcomers and TBS veterans. Musical direction is provided by Alex Huff, at the head of a live group of five musicians.
“When I was on the cast,” said Jeff Mindock, “the piece automatically lends itself to having, I would say, a wide range of generational talent. I feel like I have truly been given an exceptional opportunity to experience what Springfield has to offer in terms of talent. And I am delighted that the public can take advantage of it. We really worked hard, put in the time and rehearsals. You know, when you do a musical, you have to make sure that you have the music and the choreography. But with a Shakespearean comedy, you also have a lot of technique that you have to apply to make sure it’s funny.
Not only is the plot based on Shakespeare, but the structure of the script is too. “The whole piece is in rhyming verses,” Mindock said. And the rhyming dialogue comes to the audience in a fast and furious manner. “It’s a mile per minute,” he said.
Jeff Carney plays the governor, improbably named “Otto Von Richterhenkenpflichtgetruber”. “And he’s a lovely old boy,” Carney said. “He’s not a geezer – he has a spring in his step.”
“The production is going to be magnificent,” added director Jeffrey Mindock. “We have a colleague of mine from New York, Jack Golden, (who) flew in to do the stage design. So we have a 16-foot exterior of a Wild West sedan on the TBS Backlot. Our technical director, Payton Jackson, and (artistic director) Rick (Dines) put up the walls yesterday. I mean, it’s really going to be a sight to see and, I think, a real celebration of what the last 16 months have been for a lot of us in the arts industry. I think we are doing everything we can. Jeff Carney added, “It’s one of the most beautiful settings we’ve had in this city.”
Of course, they are hoping for good weather for the duration of the show and that it won’t be too hot. “All of the shows start at 8:00 pm,” Mindock said, “so we’re doing a really good job of trying to keep the temperature going for our audience.” There will be drinks available for purchase, as well as a different food truck each evening. “So if people want to come to the Backlot and enjoy a little dinner and a show, the house will open about 45 minutes in advance, and the food trucks will be there for an hour before the show starts. “
In addition to taking place outdoors, SCT Backlot’s current productions offer socially remote headquarters, with an audience capacity limited to 100 people per night. Jeffrey Mindock told me they were already half full. “I think this is one of those shows where after the first weekend a ticket is going to be hard to find. And further, “Mindock said,” just for anyone considering coming or considering purchasing a ticket, the entire cast and staff at SCT are all vaccinated (COVID-19). Masks at this stage are recommended but not required for individuals. We’ve done a really good job, with our outdoor performances, to keep people at a distance socially. If there are specific requests or things like that, we are always ready to respond. We just want to be able to welcome everyone back and celebrate the shared experience of enjoying a show together. “
Performances of “Desperate Measures” are Friday through Sunday August 13-15 and Thursday through Sunday August 19-22 at TBS Backlot. All tickets for the opening night of August 13 are $ 27; otherwise, tickets range from $ 12 (student rush) to $ 32. Another important point: the performance on Thursday August 19 will be a “Pay What You Can” evening. “Accessibility is a huge thing at Springfield Contemporary Theater,” said Jeffrey MIndock. And in the event of rain canceling one of the performances, you can get a refund or credit for an upcoming performance.
For more information on tickets, visit https://www.springfieldcontemporarytheater.org or call their offices at (417) 831-8001. Tickets are also available in person at the TBS Operations Center box office, 2025 E. Chestnut Expressway Suite D.