A new kind of production is playing Saturday, December 12th at the Rogue Theatre Festival.
Here is the story.
Meet CROSSOVER, written by Danielle E. Moore and directed by Amanda Pasquini, the newest singing competition to hit the airwaves with a streaming-era twist: the competing artists must prove that they’re adept at both writing and performing across different genres in order to claim the title of CROSSOVER Champion. When contestants 101 (Regina “Reggie” Carlyle, a soul-singing Stanford dropout), 13 (Hallie Harper, a country sweetheart on a mission), 69 (KC Parker, a wannabe rock goddess and the daughter of a famous guitarist), and 78 (Maxine “Max” Green, an electro-pop starlet on the rise) tie in the regional competition, they reluctantly opt to compete on the national broadcast as a group: Four-Way Tie. As they navigate the ups and downs of sudden fame, they learn more about themselves and each other than they ever thought possible. CROSSOVER’s megamix-style score, featuring influences from dance-pop, country, R&B, and rap, reinforces the show’s message: love between women, romantic or otherwise, is something to sing about.
Artistic Director Allison Hohman spoke to the director about this very ambitious production.
Allison Hohman: Where did you get the inspiration for writing your piece? Danielle E. Moore: CROSSOVER came from so many different places. One was the incredible diversity of performers I’ve had the privilege of meeting during the process of developing other new work in New York. As someone who got into writing and producing by first performing, artists who bring something truly unique to the room -- a powerful energy, a distinctive tone quality, a captivating presence -- are a huge source of inspiration. The concept and format of CROSSOVER was, in part, developed from the thought of showcasing not one, but many, singular talents like these. Another major source of inspiration was the sheer number of queer women dominating the 2019 Grammys, across not one or two but virtually all genres. I don’t think I realized that half of these artists, many of whom I was already a fan, identified as queer until reading about it after the fact. The staggering representation made me wonder about how many other queer artists had shaped the pop soundscape before being out in music was celebrated. And that curiosity shaped the Reggie/Max story line. Additionally, my background is pretty evenly split between the TV/Film and theater worlds, and while interning in LA one summer I had the opportunity to go backstage on the set of The Voice. While the experience as a live audience member was great -- with both contestants and celeb judges offering no shortage of entertainment -- what was going on behind the scenes was instantly more engrossing, and getting to observe the smooth, near-hydraulic functioning of that well-oiled machine of a production inspired CROSSOVER’s setting.
Allison Hohman: What is your writing process? When inspiration strikes? One hour a day? Danielle E. Moore: I tend to write in short, all-consuming spurts. The planning phase is the most important part of the process for me. Once I have a solid outline, I generally try to write the first draft as quickly as possible, because it reveals the weak points in the concept really effectively for me. If it’s taking a while to write a section -- or, on the other hand, if the first pass at a certain section makes me cringe minutes after writing it -- it's a good sign that a little more concept development is needed there. For me, finishing that first draft efficiently -- no matter how uneven it turns out -- is like exhaling. Once the first version is out of my system, the revisions are a welcome task. The writing process for CROSSOVER was unique, though, as the majority of the songs were actually written first, over the course of several years, and re-molded to tell the story. Creating a structure that was dramatically satisfying from both the standpoint of musical theater tradition and the reality TV setting I was blending it with then became the chief writing challenge.
Allison Hohman: How did you first get involved with theater and becoming a playwright? Danielle E. Moore: I’ve always been a writer, though initially I was only interested in nonfiction. It wasn’t until I had the opportunity to intern in TV/Film development, at firms like Broadway Video, that I started to gravitate towards fiction. When I was a senior at the University of Pennsylvania, I received a grant to lead a student workshop of a new musical adaptation of The Great Gatsby that I’d been working on for most of college (but had, of course, been utterly petrified to show anyone). With the help of my advisor, David Fox, and an insanely smart group of student actors, musicians and designers, that project eventually became GATSBY, which premiered in NYC in 2019.
Allison Hohman: What do you love about this piece and what will others love about it? Danielle E. Moore: I think my favorite thing about CROSSOVER is that each of the four main characters explores a different aspect of ambition that has historically been censured in women, especially in music. Regina is the mogul -- easily labeled a “control freak” -- as invested in the business of music as she is in the art. Max trusts her intuition, and knows a career-making opportunity when she sees one, even when it might result in backlash. At the risk of being called “emotional” or “dramatic,” KC embraces vulnerability in a male-dominated space that has traditionally shunned it. And Hallie asserts her right to perform without being harassed in a genre where women’s sexuality is as often pedaled as it is policed. Together and apart, they subvert expectations. The mixtape-style score, which combines country, R&B, dance pop and rock, is designed to echo that, and we can’t wait to see how audiences react to it.
Allison Hohman: How important do you think it is for theatre festivals to offer opportunities for new or up and coming playwrights? Danielle E. Moore: Festivals are absolutely crucial for developing new talent and new work. With musicals in particular, there are so many moving parts that need to be taken into consideration when making the piece the best it can be, and there’s no substitute for a supportive yet constructive environment in which to take that big, terrifying step of moving a piece from the page to the stage.
Allison Hohman: Have you participated in theater festivals before? What was that experience like? What has your experience with Rogue Theater Festival been? Danielle E. Moore: I’ve been lucky to have worked with some great festivals with passionate presenters and staff, and Rogue is no exception. The team’s thoughtful and professional transition from pre-COVID production plans to a flexible one designed to provide the best possible experience for each show was no small feat, and the ideal way for CROSSOVER to make its (digital!) NYC debut.
Allison Hohman: How has the rehearsal and performance process differed now in Covid times vs. regular times? Danielle E. Moore: It was extremely different, in that both our production and rehearsal process took place entirely remotely! One of the most challenging elements was that we recorded a full cast album (now available across all streaming services) without ever convening in person -- no easy feat, given the four part harmonies featured in many of the songs. Several team members haven’t had the chance to meet in person yet due to the restrictions, but it definitely didn’t stop our cast and crew from bonding over the Zoom mishaps galore that occurred during the process.
Allison Hohman: If you weren’t a playwright, what would you be doing? Danielle E. Moore: When I’m not writing or overseeing development for GLG, I also develop content across other realms of media and entertainment. As a Content Development and Partnerships Editor with Entertainment Benefits Group — a ticketing partner of the Shubert Organization — I created custom content for entertainment partners like Disney, Universal and Broadway behemoths like Wicked. As an earned media strategist, I’ve crafted stories covered by outlets like People a nd AdWeek. I’ve also covered the Cannes Film Festival, the Tony Awards, BroadwayCon and Emmys FYC events for outlets like Film Inquiry, Variety Media and S howTickets.
Allison Hohman: Any advice for aspiring playwrights? Danielle E. Moore: If you’re passionate about an idea, don’t let the voice in your head saying it will never be good enough shut it down before you give it a chance. Trust that your interest is leading you somewhere that others will find interesting, too. And, in the words of Katori Hall at Women’s Day on Broadway: “Don’t write with your fingers. Write with your heart.”
Allison Hohman: What’s up next for you? Danielle E. Moore: This spring, I’ll be continuing to develop Audrey, a new musical about the life of Audrey Hepburn, as part of Creative Cauldron’s Bold New Musical Voices program.
Reggie Carlyle (Taylor J. Mitchell)
Max Green (Boris Dansberry)
KC Parker (Chelsea Cylinder)
Hallie Harper (Ali Walker)
Shea Stone (Donovan Lockett)
Lila Selleck (Annie Fang)
Jack Tyler (Chris Murphy Smith)
About the Playwright.
Danielle E. Moore (Writer, Composer/Lyricist, Co-Producer) is an NYC-based writer and producer. She is the Executive Director of Green Light Group Productions (www.greenlightgroupproductions.com), whose other projects include GATSBY: A New Musical (University of Pennsylvania Year of Innovation Grant; NYSummerfest 2019) and Audrey, a new musical about the life of Audrey Hepburn (East Broadway Theater Project; Creative Cauldron Bold New Musical Voices Selection). Her work has been featured in Variety Media, Film Inquiry, Broadway World, and ShowTickets. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.
Catch Crossover on Saturday, December 12 at 8:00pm
Buy Tickets: https://www.showtix4u.com/event-details/40497