Throughout his time at Canyon Del Oro High School and in working toward his degree from the University of Arizona, Clark Jewett’s life has slowly been preparing him for this month. On May 17 and 18, his musical will be performed at Fox Theatre.
Even though he has invested a lot of his own money into creating the musical, all of the proceeds from it will go to a charity.
It wasn’t his initial intention to write the play, along with music and the lyrics, but after many failed collaborations, Jewett finally decided that if he wanted his play to see the light of day, he would have to do it.
However, he was uncertain of his abilities to write the script and dialog, seeing as his degree was in music, not in writing.
“I had kind of knew that after I graduated college, the first thing that I wanted to do was write a musical,” the 2008 CDO grad said. “I was trying to write a musical about my college experience, but I was getting nowhere.
“Whenever I am having a hard time writing, obviously I goof off and go on the Internet. By accident, I ended up on the Best of Craigslist.”
That list is a compilation comprised of Craigslist reader nominations. The recent ones range from a posting about free Death Ray parts to someone willing to trade their belly button lint for motorcycles and guns.
In an odd turn of events, his procrastination gave way to inspiration.
“The List: A Musical” is ultimately about the people you can possibly meet on Craigslist.com. In the play, the people respond to ads listed on the site. One is a person looking for an assistant private eye and the other is a lady who thinks she is a super villain and is looking for henchmen.
In May of last year Jewett began trying to write about his time at college. After a couple of months, he switched his focus to that around Craigslist. By late September, he had his script done and punched out the lyrics and music by January.
“It was very hard for me to start writing the music but once I had it under way, it started getting really easy. A few songs I wrote over the course of a day, which is very, very fast.”
The next hurdle for Jewett to overcome was casting, which came fairly easy.
“In CDO, I was really big into music theater and drama and choir and anything else I could get my little hands on. And I knew a lot of really good people who sort of stayed in the field.”
He put a call out to those people early on to let them know what he was doing and creating. A lot of them responded to let him know they were interested.
One of those Canyon Del Oro grads is Gemma Krebs who plays Blythe, the lady who thinks she is a super villain and is looking to expand her evil empire.
Krebs graduated a year before Jewett, but stayed in contact through Facebook. When the time came for casting, Jewett simply let her know she would be right for the part and it was hers if she wanted it. Seeing that the play is interesting and different, she jumped on board.
“It focuses on really different characters. There are more shows and stuff out about underdogs, but they take it to the extreme at some point. There are some real underdogs in the play that you don’t normally see in lead rolls. It’s really cool to see that.”
Another CDO graduate, Paul Honan, plays the role of Tommy Muscles, a guy who hates his dad so much that he changed his last name to muscles and opened a gym. Using professional wrestlers as inspiration, Honan has really been impressed with Jewett’s creativity, writing and musical skills. Honan said Jewett made sure the jokes didn’t fall flat and that the story plots came together at the end.
Jewett says the musical is light hearted and goofy. It’s a different kind of musical.
“The music is a little self-aware almost,” said Jewett. “For example, there is the private eye and in a very noir style he narrates to himself all the time. And whenever he narrates to himself, this very smooth jazzy noir music sneaks into the scene.”
Jewett, who has glaucoma and is blind in his left eye and has very bad eyesight in his right, feels giving the proceeds from the $10 admission to Arts for All is very fitting.
“I like their mission,” Jewett said. “Their idea is to bring arts to kids with disabilities. And as people who like art and have a disability growing up, that is something I can identify with.”
The List: A Musical
Where: Fox Theatre
When: May 17 and 18, 7:30 p.m.
Composed by: Clark Jewett