The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC) is quickly coming to a close – but there’s still time to catch one of the showcase’s stand-out gems: Sandy the Dandy and Charlie McGee: A Case Study in Harsh Realities, directed by Stephen Brackett and written by Mat Sanders and Guerrin Gardner. The play is a sideways […]
What was the inspiration?
In 2006, my co-creator Mat Sanders found himself starring in the musical revue at the American Girl Doll Store on 5th avenue [in NYC]. Due to the corporation’s dubious ethics towards the actors in the show, Mat helped lead a strike against the store. I joined him on the picket line and even though we knew it was a worthy fight, clearly we saw the absurdity in the situation. Mat was working in a doll store—and now striking against it. Both of us have taken some embarrassing acting gigs in our day, and we knew that feeling like you were “selling your soul” was relatable to professionals in any field.
For the tone of the show we spent a lot of time talking about and researching vintage Sears and Roebuck catalogs, Golden Books, classic vaudeville duos like Laurel and Hardy, the comedic stylings of everyone from Elaine Stritch to Martin Short, and then fusing it all to create our own unique world of whimsy. It was much easier to imagine this all coming together after a few glasses of wine…
What makes your work unique amongst the many being showcased at FringeNYC?
Mat and I have been insanely meticulous about the aesthetic of the show in every facet. I work in marketing/branding at Real Simple Magazine and Mat is an incredible artist with an intense eye for detail. I think this combination has helped us keep every inch of this show on brand. From scouring for the perfect vintage-esque paper for our press kit, to a two-week hunt for Sandy’s perfect umbrella, to making sure the set accurately brought to life the whimsical story book tale we have created- we have painstakingly made sure every element of our show reflects our initial vision of curating a modern vaudeville. Our script was the bible but the press kit, tone of the website, blog, postcards, e-blasts, and verbiage had to have our personal touch of offbeat dandyism. We brought in our good friend Ryland Blackinton of the indie band, This Is Ivy League, to add music that pokes fun at classic musical theatre standards-and the final touch was adding our director, Stephen Brackett, who was fresh off of an assistant directing gig with Passing Strange on Broadway. Everyone seemed to instantly get our very specific vision.
How is your play/the Fringe Festival challenging the conventions of traditional theater and audiences expectations?
In the theatre world, and pretty much in the art world in general, it’s really difficult to get press, fans, producers, etc when you’ve created something unconventional. We were so sick of seeing the same 20- something coming of age play over and over, or the same gross out humor for a quick laugh shtick, or yet another revival of a dated show- so we just decided to create something for ourselves. FringeNYC is incredible because they actually pride themselves on showcasing innovative works. The range of shows in the festival is awesomely mind-boggling.
You can catch the last showing of Sandy the Dandy and Charlie McGee at on Saturday Aug 23, at 3pm at The Deluxe at Spiegelworld (Pier 17, South Street Seaport, 89 South Street). Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at fringenyc.org or at the door.