In fall of 2013, tucked away in a small upstairs space in the Kalita Humphreys Theatre in Turtle Creek, a small cast of actors began to sing the first few lines of a musical. Recognizable from a staged reading at the Out of the Loop Fringe Festival in 2010, the work had a new energy. In this workshop production, Donald Fowler's thriller musical deconstructs the story of Jack the Ripper, under the long but apt moniker, Creep (the very, very sad but unfortunately true and completely fabricated tale of Jack the Ripper). This week, WaterTower Theatre announced it will present the official world premiere of the musical as its season opener.
For Fowler, the inspiration to compose the musical was manifold. Stylistically he'll describe memories of his first trip to Paris on his fortieth birthday; thematically, he's interested in the secrets inside every human; and musically, he's written a score that fits into the theatrical tradition with moments as bombastic as Andrew Lloyd Webber, as manic as Next to Normal, and as contemporary and quiet as Jason Robert Brown. For a debut musical from an actor turned playwright turned composer, it's a complex piece that seems destined to draw a cult following. And in the last few years, it's gone through numerous revisions, as Fowler has worked closely with some of the city's most talented actors and directors to refine the script.
Creep opens at WaterTower Theatre Monday, October 5 with a preview performance for donors the previous night. For WaterTower's artistic director, Terry Martin, this announcement signals the company's continued commitment to producing new work, staging work by local playwrights and its annual Out of the Loop Fringe Festival. But, this production is a large, important undertaking for the company. To make sure the musical comes off without a hitch, WaterTower Theatre hires nationally acclaimed artist Kate Galvin to direct, and has assembled a fundraising team to allow the musical to be presented as a big budget production. And if Fowler's play comes to fruition in line with his vision it will be delightfully terrifying.
"I wanted to make something that's really scary," says Fowler. "I want people to leave the theater shaken up."
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More information on Creep and WaterTower available at watertowertheatre.org.