“My Favorite Toy Was Dirt: An American Story in Concert”
Written by Patrick F. McManus, Music by Olivia Brownlee
Starring Tim Behrens…….and 7 Musicians!
“DIRT” celebrates the wonderfully wacky world and characters of Patrick F. McManus (an American storytelling treasure), the humorous and elegant musical compositions of Olivia Brownlee (international performer, educator, and composer) and the performance artistry of Pat’s indentured professional actor, Tim Behrens (who has toured Pat's six One-Man Shows over a 23-state region the past 25 years).
As pianist Victor Borge said: “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” “DIRT” aims to travel that route as we combine humor, words, and music to present an original story in concert, scored for seven musicians and one actor!
This new theatrical experience, under development for the past six months, is based on stories from Pat's 24
comedic books and six one-man stage comedies. With the never-before-added dynamic
of live music, the familiar narratives are enhanced, the humor intensified, and the
surprisingly universal humanity made even more evident.
Tim, fronting seven musicians in a classic and interactive cabaret style, will call on his top-shelf comic timing to deliver the same heartfelt McManus characters he’s crafted and performed for more than 25 years all over North America. Musicians are not tethered to their seats, but participate actively as actor and musicians each contribute to the on-stage mirth, mayhem and mischief. Think Mark Twain meets Spike Jones!
This type of live storytelling combined with live music is rare. Examples include (in
form only) Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf,” Britten’s “A Young Person’s Guide to the
Orchestra,” or Copland’s “A Lincoln Portrait.” In these examples, however, the actor
is primarily narrator.
In My Favorite Toy Was Dirt, the actor, the composer, and the musicians work in tandem to convey the wit, warmth and wisdom of McManus’ words in a fresh and distinctly American style. The music will evoke American folk, traditional jazz, Texas swing, American classical (i.e. Copland), cowboy, barn dances, and other national musical forms. Audiences who seek the worlds of theater, writing, storytelling, and music will find themselves sharing in laughter loud and long.
Initially, My Favorite Toy Was Dirt will be presented to four Spokane area audiences beginning in October 2018. These four performances will, hopefully, act as a springboard for future productions in regional and national venues, similar to the way the McManus Comedies have toured.
This project is managed by Penguin Productions, DBA The McManus Comedies, a Washington State Partnership, comprised of Leslie Ann Grove, attorney, musician and mediator; and Tim Behrens, actor. Olivia Brownlee may be found online at: oliviabrownlee.com. The graphic artist for the project (posters, flyers, ads) is Derrick King, graphic artist for the Inlander.
Why Do This?
The piece aims to bring the hilarious and heartfelt words of Patrick F. McManus and the delightful and original music of Olivia Brownlee to even larger audiences in the Inland Northwest and beyond. The stories have a local feel since Pat grew up poor in northern Idaho (so poor that dirt was his favorite toy!). To date, Pat and Tim’s one-man comedies have been well-received on a national level. From the Deep South to the wilds of coastal Alaska, from Maine to Oklahoma, over 1600 performances of Pat’s stage comedies have been presented in 23 states with a 70% sell-out rate. Adding an interactive, musical component to the program deepens the universality of the art form overall and furnishes ample opportunities for national and perhaps even international touring.
From 1992 to 2017, Tim has performed five different McManus Comedies 1600 times to more than ½ million people. www.mcmanusplays.com/tim_bio.html
For over 20 years Olivia has been composing, writing, and performing. For the past four years she has recorded and released an original single in a different studio every month.
Pat McManus published 24 books and thousands of magazine articles over the course of his 50-year career. He was the humor editor of Field and Stream and also of Outdoor Life for more than 25 combined years. His books have sold more than 5 million copies.
These artists have more than just their numbers to recommend them, since each has moved the literary, musical, and performing yardsticks of the Northwest ahead. They have witnessed the fact—and believe deeply in the truth—that in tumultuous times, music, great stories, and hearty laughter are indeed the best medicine. Here are some reactions from the press about the McManus Comedies:
...will cover the artistic fees for a composer and seven musicians for the completion, development, rehearsals and four performances of this totally original and authentic American Story in Concert.
Separately, the Spokane City Arts Commission has provided a grant of $2,500 towards other production costs, and the McManus Comedies have pledged in-kind contributions to help defray marketing expenses.
Risks and challenges
While $9,700 will cover the artistic fees for this show, live theatre is always expensive. To cover the additional costs, like theater rental, tech staff, insurance, printing, marketing materials, and ad buys, separate requests are being sent to previous supporters of the McManus shows for performance underwriting and support. In addition, ticket sales should cover a significant portion of those costs. A complete budget and up-to-date financials are available to those who are interested. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org with a request.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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