Success is coming in all shapes, celebrities, and superpowers for Randy Blair, the brilliant mind behind such original musicals as Fat Camp, Perez Hilton Saves the Universe, and Spidermusical (to name a few). In fact, it’s safe to say you’d be hard pressed to find a busier artist in New York, not to mention one as entertaining, creative, or dedicated to his work. And even with Spidermusical opening in just a few days, Randy graciously took some time out of rehearsals to talk to Daily BR!NK about just what goes into being one of the most promising writer/actor/performing artists in the nation. Prepare to be overwhelmed with awesome.
How did you get into show business?
I graduated from NYU Tisch School of the Arts and while I was there I studied acting, but I’ve always written on the side. After college, a few of my friends started a sketch comedy group at the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York, and we did sketch comedy shows every week around town. One of those shows turned into a musical called Perez Hilton Saves the Universe, and we did that at the New York International Fringe Festival in 2008.
Do you write the book, lyrics, and music for your shows?
I write book and lyrics, but I do not write music. I’ve worked with a couple different composers, and they’re all brilliant. Matthew Berger, who is a rock musician I went to school with, and Zach Redler, who I also went to NYU with. And I collaborate frequently with Tim Drucker who I went to acting school with.
Can you give a brief synopsis of the show, Perez Hilton Saves the Universe?
It’s a one-act musical with nine people in the cast that play over a hundred celebrities and civilians. It tells the story of a day in the life of Perez Hilton, a gossip blogger who owns perezhilton.com, and it blends two of my favorite things in the world, which are celebrity gossip and terrorism. In the show, there is a group of Islamic militant terrorists in Los Angeles that are trying to blow it up, and they lure people to a location via Perez Hilton’s blog. It’s madcap comedy and really silly.
You starred as Perez in the show. What was it like to act in your own show?
I got into the profession as an actor, but I felt like there weren’t a lot of opportunities for that, so I started writing my own shows. I wanted to create opportunities that I felt weren’t there for myself and my friends to perform. Being in the show is cool because I write with collaborators who can sit out during the rehearsal process and take notes so that when I’m onstage I can wear my full actor hat. Then when I’m offstage I can work on the book and lyrics. As far as playing Perez, it was a crazy part. Perez Hilton actually came to see the show – he‘s a big fan and he’s a friend of ours now – and he was very flattered.
What was it like to see your first show get such a positive reception?
It was very surprising. We had our first show at the Fringe Festival, and when we came into the theatre we saw the line down the block, and we said, “Wait a second, this thing’s been sold out!” It continued to be sold out, and we would get calls from people like MTV, and we were also in a lot of gossip magazines, which was funny.
You followed that up with Fat Camp, which I actually followed on Twitter! What is that about, exactly?
Fat Camp was a new musical that we did at the New York Musical Theatre Festival in 2009. Alex Timbers directed – he also did Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson on Broadway – and Connor Gallagher choreographed. It is a rock musical about teenagers at a weight loss camp. That was the first thing I ever wrote, actually. I started writing it in high school because I wanted to be an actor and people would say “you’re too different to get these roles right now,” so I decided to write my own show. So for this piece we’ve assembled a group of really talented actors that hardly work because of their types, but are so extremely talented and comically gifted. We did the show at the NYMF; it also sold out all its performances and had a great run. The show was optioned by Carl Levin and Michael Minarik, who produced the show Rock of Ages on Broadway, and it’s also being produced by Dodger Theatricals who have had so many shows on Broadway and won Tonys, so we’re in good hands with the piece. We’ve done several developmental steps, and we’re gearing up to do another production which is going to be announced soon. The eye is toward a Broadway run.
At the same time, you’ve got a very timely piece in the works: Spidermusical. How would you describe that project?
How shall I put it? There’s a certain show that is on Broadway that’s been plagued with some trouble – some injuries, budget trouble, staff changes – and it’s not going well. Coincidentally, at the same time, my writing partner and I started to explore in January a way to present a similar sort of story with a low budget. Let me be frank: it’s not about Spiderman, it’s a show about a nerdy teenage boy that’s bitten by a radioactive spider and turns into a superhero, but it’s not about Spiderman. We have an amazing cast and crew, and that’s going up on March 15th, which we’re now calling the “Spides of March.” It was supposed to open on the same day as the other spider show, but they once again pushed their opening to June, so I’m very proud to break it to you that Spidermusical will be the only spider related musical to open on the Spides of March.
You’ve also got another project with very unique subject matter, Gleam.
Yes! Gleam just played at the Landless Theatre in Washington, DC, and that is a mashup musical of Fox’s Glee and Wes Craven’s Scream franchise.
If you could pick another current event to turn into a musical, what would you go for?
I find Charlie Sheen fascinating, and I’ve always wanted to do a piece on Michael Jackson. A piece we are working on is actually going to be an independent film and outdoor theatre piece on larping, which is live action role-playing.
Is it hard to balance all these projects?
No, I’m a workaholic. I enjoy having all these things to do.
What can Daily BR!NKers do to support you?
Well, Spidermusical is opening at the Mint Theater on 43rd Street and 8th Avenue in New York City, and it runs through the 21st. There’s a possibility that we’ll do a longer run, but right now it’s the 15th through the 21st. And you can find out more about that at www.spidermusical.com. You can also follow us on Twitter @Spidermusical. You can go to my website www.therandyshow.com and check out all of our projects that are coming up. My collaborator Tim and I are also doing a talkback in Brooklyn at the de Castellane Gallery on the 24th, so I would love for people to be able to come out and see that. But mostly, if you ever see one of my shows, come up and say hi, I’d love to meet you!