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A Broadway style Jonathan Coulton Sci-Fi jukebox musical. Read more

Boise, ID Theater
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$5,394
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Funding Unsuccessful

This project's funding goal was not reached on October 15, 2013.

A Broadway style Jonathan Coulton Sci-Fi jukebox musical.

Boise, ID Theater
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About this project

If the video above didn't grab you, here's a less formal overview by the director.

The Future Soon is a sci-fi musical, based on songs by Jonathan Coulton, where two young roboticists try to save the world while the girl who loves them becomes their cyborg nemesis.

That's the 10-second version. The full version is a 107 page script with 18 songs. If you've never seen a full length Broadway style sci-fi musical before, you're not alone, and we think you should. We're here to help.

If you know who Jonathan Coulton is, you can skip ahead; if not, it's time you learned. This is him*:

*Our editor says it should be "this is he", but that sounds pedantic.

He's a programmer turned singer-songwriter, and he writes songs about people and relationships...computers, robots, cyborgs, and geek culture in general. Head over to http://www.jonathancoulton.com and take a listen--we'll wait.

Great stuff, eh? We think so, too. And because he generously releases his music under the Creative Commons Open Source license, people can have fun with it on their own. Inspired by that, we want to make The Future Soon an Open Source musical. We're still working on the details, but that's one of our goals. And we've already done more than just use his music for free. We have worked with his team at Joco Heavy Industries, including Scarface himself, for almost a year, and have a contract to use his music for this production. We don't just want to use his music, we want to share it, and we want him to benefit.

Ashley Rodbro and Scarface from Joco Heavy Industries
Ashley Rodbro and Scarface from Joco Heavy Industries

Back to us

Before unleashing our script on unwary thespians and audiences, we feel honor bound to suffer some slings and arrows and see if the show really works. How do we do that, you ask? By staging a "workshop production." What that means is doing the show, on stage, for the very first time. Full sets, lighting, costumes, and special effects. Perform it in front of an audience to see what they like and what they don't. Find out how long it runs. Does the dialogue work? Do we need to fix the pacing of scenes? Do people like the music, care about the characters and, ultimately, enjoy the show? That's what this campaign is all about.

What we've done so far

  • A complete 107 page script (down from a high of 126)
  • Numerous script reviews
  • Musical arrangements
  • Two table readings
  • Contract negotiations with Joco Heavy Industries
  • Budget estimates
  • Facility evaluations
  • Concept Art
  • Costume, set, lighting, and FX R&D
  • Full concept recording

What's that, you say? A concept recording? Good question. When a new musical is written, you need to hear actors singing the parts, and make sure the songs help move the story forward. We've heard our actors sing the songs, but you haven't. And while we love Joco singing his own songs, we have women singing some of them, and chorus numbers. You don't know what that will sound like either. So we went into the studio and recorded all the songs we use in the show. In some cases we did a song with more than one actor, for comparison. A few songs also got a little Broadway treatment, e.g., adding a big finish at the end. 

Here is Tyson Bates and the ensemble singing the opening number.

And this is Sarah Howard doing The Big Boom.

Alyssa Hill does a beautiful job on When You Go, with the ensemble humanizing JeNeale Gunnell's arrangement.

Finally, here are two versions of the finale, the first with BJ Howard and Sarah Howard, the second with Tyson Bates and Alexandra Jarratt.

 You'll notice that various pledge levels have concept recording tracks as rewards. If you like the clips you just heard, you'll want to pledge at those levels to get the complete versions, and all the songs. You want to hear the big finish, right?

What next?

This campaign is what's next. We can't develop the show further without actually staging it, and to do that we need money. We've self-financed everything so far, but just don't have enough in our pockets to mount a high-level production, and we think the workshop production needs to attain a certain level of quality to build further interest in others producing the show. We've done theatre on-the-cheap, but it's a technically complex show including robot and cyborg costumes, projection screens, and an apocalyptic event.

How much people pledge will determine what we can improve in different facets of the production. Our initial goal is the starting point. If we have $50,000, upgraded costumes and special effects are the first priority, but everything improves a bit. If we reach $125,000, we scale everything up, including moving the production to a facility used by big touring shows when they come through town.

How many backers we get will also help us gauge the interest in an Open Source version. If it looks like there's no crossover between Joco fans and theatre types who would love to do this show someday, we need to know that. On the other hand, if there is a huge outpouring of support, proving that people are starved for high quality, modern musicals, we'll be thrilled beyond belief. Not only that, it will show other potential investors and supporters that the demand is there, and your chances of being able to see or do the show locally go up astronomically.

Where? When? Who?

We've done all our readings and recordings near Boise, Idaho, and have a lot of contacts in the area excited to support us. Facilities and other costs are also lower in this area, and we want to make your donations go as far as possible. There are a number of suitable facilities in the area, ranging from 200 to over 1,000 seats. Availability and this campaign's success will dictate the venue.

We plan to mount the show (4-8 performances) by the end of the year, mid-December if possible, which is very aggressive. Putting the show up on a short timeline will keep our momentum going and help us eliminate things that aren't necessary. If we have to push back a month to get a facility, we will, but no more than that. We'll announce specific dates once the campaign is over and we've booked the facility.

Eric will act as producer, oversee finances, and drive the robot design. Gregg will direct the show, and JeNeale will act as music director and manage logistics. We know a great choreographer, technical designer, artists, and costumers, all ready to jump in when we say Go!

We'll also reach out to Makers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maker_culture), because we think they'll come up with things that make the show amazingly cool, and to our friends in the BSU and College of Idaho theatre departments and the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. Students and apprentices often need places to intern. Working on an ambitious original show, in its first production, will be a great learning experience.

You want more?

Head over to http://www.futuresoonthemusical.com and you can find a synopsis of the story, download snippets of the script, get more details on the creative team, see photos and video clips from some of our gatherings, and become a rabid zomb...er, fan.

Let me sum up

If you're a Jonathan Coulton fan, we think you'll love hearing his songs in the context of a story that ties them together. If you're a theatre fan, it's your chance to support an incipient, perhaps mutant, species of Broadway musical. And if you just like (sometimes bad) comedy, the not-so-occasional homage to other great sci-fi works, programming, robots, cyborgs, or zombies, there is plenty for you to enjoy as well.

And we'll see you in the future...soon.

(Man, that joke just never gets old)

Reward Notes

Clearly, some rewards won't be available until after the production. The ship date for rewards is for all items that can be delivered before the production. For example, stickers, posters, and concept recordings can be delivered as soon as the campaign is successful. The archive video is a post-production reward.

Risks and challenges

The risks and challenges of staging the basic show are very low, as we have a lot of experience in this area. Where things get tricky is in the technology. Projection screens play a large part in the show, but can't overpower or distract by being too much or low quality. And while we have a number of ideas for how to create convincing robots and cyborgs (zombies are easy by comparison), it will take time to prototype and refine them. Finally, we want to stage the production by the end of the year if possible. The challenge there is scheduling the facility around the many Christmas productions that abound. Worst case, we'll have to push back a bit because not having a theater is kind of a showstopper.

We have the music, the rights to use it, actors chomping at the bit to perform it, and we have Joco's blessing. Those WERE our biggest risks. The rest, by comparison, should be easy.

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FAQ

  • Ask and ye shall receive. We have added a $20 all-digital tier, and a limited $75 all-digital tier that includes the ENTIRE concept recording. It will be great for those that want the whole recording, but not the T-shirt or tickets.

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  • It's a new concept, and The Future Soon would be the first of its kind. Jonathan Coulton releases his music under a Creative Commons license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/), and we will likely use the same license for The Future Soon. But there are a lot of details to figure out.
    For example, normally when you licence the rights to produce a play, you can't change *anything* in the script without written permission. If there is adult language in it, you are required to use that language. You're not allowed to create a PG version for your hometown audience or kids. The playwright has the power. We want you to be able to adapt The Future Soon, and we need to make sure both we and Jonathan Coulton are compensated if you produce a commercial version. i.e., have all the fun you want, but don't steal our work and try to make money from it.
    Beyond the script, we will create a complete score for the show, but need to make sure Joco is fairly credited, because we are creating arrangements of his songs. Then there are things like set design, special effects trickery, and media resources that appear on screen. It's a lot to figure out. Our *intent* is to let people have fun with it, while maintaining a level of commercial control. Translating that into legal terms, since this hasn't been done before, is the challenge.

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  • It will be a desktop wallpaper sized graphic, the design being the same as the original (Alpha) script cover from our first table reading. We'll add your name and your pledge number. So the sooner you pledge, the lower your number, and people will forever know you were here before they were.

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  • Great question. At certain pledge levels you can get the entire concept recording, so you could *hear* it, and at even higher levels you can get a copy of the archive video we will make of the show when we do it. Yes, the tickets won't do you much good, but we can find a good home for them. At lower levels, you could back it just to stick it to the man who thinks sci-fi musicals are an aberration of nature and should not be done. The same holds true for any projects by non-local artists you might consider supporting.

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  • Yes, it's even on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jukebox_musical

    Mamma Mia! is one of the most well known, based on songs by Abba. Movin' Out is a more recent one, using Billy Joel's music and characters from his songs. We're pretty sure The Future Soon is the first sci-fi jukebox musical.

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Rewards

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more
    About $5 USD

    4 backers

    Your name will appear in the Supporters section of the web site, as a TFS Workshop Production donor-- proof you were there at the beginning. And our sincere thanks.

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more
    About $10 USD

    7 backers

    The above, plus a downloadable concept art graphic and a 3x5 TFS Workshop Production sticker.

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    Ships to: Only United States
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $20 or more
    About $20 USD

    0 backers

    Digital Global 1, for Joco fans anywhere with net access. A downloadable copy of the title track from our concept recording and a personalized downloadable graphic.

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more
    About $25 USD

    3 backers

    Both of the above, plus a downloadable copy of the title track from our concept recording, a 3x10 TFS Workshop Production bumper sticker, and a personalized downloadable graphic.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more
    About $50 USD

    7 backers

    All of the above, plus an 11x17 concept art poster and 3 downloadable tracks from the concept recording (our choice).

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more
    About $75 USD

    1 backer

    All of the above, plus a Limited Edition TFS Workshop Production T-Shirt, and we'll sign your poster!

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more
    About $75 USD

    7 backers Limited (43 left of 50)

    Digital Global 2 (Limited), for Joco fans anywhere with net access. Everything from the Digital Global 1 level, a limited edition downloadable version of the concept art poster, and a downloadable copy of the ENTIRE concept recording.

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more
    About $100 USD

    9 backers

    All of the above, plus two tickets to the show, a downloadable copy of the entire concept recording, and thanks in the on-screen credits that roll at the end of the show, just like in the movies.

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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more
    About $100 USD

    2 backers Limited (48 left of 50)

    Digital Global 3 (Limited), for Joco fans anywhere with net access. Everything from the Digital Global 2 level and a downloadable copy of the archive video we make of the show.

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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more
    About $250 USD

    3 backers

    All of the above, plus thanks in the printed program, 4 tickets (total) OR a downloadable copy of the archive video we make, a CD of the complete concept recording, and a PDF of the complete script.

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  11. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more
    About $500 USD

    3 backers

    All of the above, plus Bronze Circle status in the program and on the web site, 8 tickets (total, limited to availability) AND the archive video, a printed, signed, hard-copy of the script, and an invitation to the pre-party before the show.

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  12. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,000 or more
    About $1,000 USD

    0 backers

    All of the above, plus Silver Circle status in the program and on the web site, 10 tickets (total, limited to availability), a backstage pass, and an invitation to the opening night after-party.

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  13. Select this reward

    Pledge $2,500 or more
    About $2,500 USD

    0 backers

    All of the above, plus Gold Circle status in the program and on the web site, "Level 2 Clearance" Thanks credit in the on-screen credits that roll at the end of the show, and dinner with the creative team before the show.

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Funding period

- (30 days)