STEP INTO MYSTERY WITH BROADWAY NOIR
INTERVIEW: DANIEL SUGIMOTO
BY RYAN M. LUÉVANO
Celebrate the film noir Hollywood legacy on stage in the world premiere musical Broadway Noir written by Daniel Sugimoto, presented by Sugimation Productions for this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival. This neo-noir musical takes audiences behind the scenes into the shady inner workings of the theatre business. And true to film noir format the story follows two of New York’s finest detectives as they investigate the disappearance of Broadway’s brightest new star. In this Tin Pan L.A. exclusive writer (music, lyrics and book) Daniel Sugimoto discusses everything it took to create this nostalgic musical and what audience can hope to expect from this noir musical.
How would you describe this Broadway Noir in a nutshell?
It’s a satirical comedy dealing with the inner workings of the theater business. Due to the experience of the creators who know how the theater business works and how people like to go behind the scenes to see the interworking of things [. . .] we thought it was a cool way for us to say, ‘Hey we understand, we get what you’re going through.’ I also like the concept of having people that are on the opposite side, law enforcement or detectives, then thrown into it. This gives the audience someone to follow and respect
When did you start writing Broadway Noir? How long did it take you to
I started writing over the summer. There was a show that I was writing for my theater company CAC Studios and it was called Project Mayhem: A Fight Club Musical, then that got shut down about a week before premiering due to legal issues. We ended up premiering it in February, but I remember the week after that show closed I felt I had so much I needed to say and it all started spewing out in a creative way. It ended up taking a week to storyboard, get all the characters developed, write them out separately and another week to finish the first draft, and the week after that is when it all fell into place. And the music was finished three weeks ago.
What was your inspiration for this show?
I was watching True Detective at the time and said, ‘Wow if this took place in the 40s, what would these people be doing in New York?’ And I’d always loved the noir detective style and I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to try, not duplicate, to have some inspired characters, dynamics and story structure to the first season of True Detective and make it more a noir style thing.’
What kind of research did you do for this show to capture the noir style?
We watched Laura, Chinatown, and a bunch of other great noir films. And we really looked at how things were structured and the build. Often with noir, you don’t get super dramatic climaxes; they keep everything very still even in very intense moments. And we were fixated on how to translate that into a theater sense, or something that would translate to theater. We also did a lot of research on New York in that time period because that just such a cool aesthetic and period for that city. We even traveled to New York and looked at a lot of locations that are in the actual show to ground everything in reality. We’ve been researching from the start and we still are in a sense.
What kind of accompaniment will you be using for the show?
For a couple of previews at the studios we’ll be using tracks, but then all the other Fringe dates I’m going to be playing piano and we also have Matt von Roderick on trumpet. I thought from the start, ‘This show needs a trumpet’ and actually this whole world need a trumpet almost as a character, as a guy who is following the show, following the scenes. Much like in There’s Something About Mary, they had that little three-piece band—this guy with the trumpet just accents the whole world with the trumpet.
What kind of music will audience expect to hear in this show?
The score is a broad spectrum because some of the songs are from the musical within the musical, in the show that the detectives are investigating. The show A Dollar Worth Dying For is the show that the Imperial Theater is putting on and the detectives are investigating that, so they get to go see rehearsals and these big Broadway numbers. And that was a good way to put in a classic Broadway 40s style numbers. And often when you get those numbers in an actual Broadway show, it’s very ‘here’s the musical number’ so this way, in the rehearsal process and being seen through the detectives eyes it gives it a new light. And then other songs are more pop influenced and they serve the more emotive sides of these characters. Since the dialogue is so noir and brooding, the music gives them a chance to evolve in certain ways.
What is your favorite moment in the show?
My favorite moment is between the producer character Fox, and the detectives. The scenes layout in a videogame style, the detectives have to interview and the producer is the last one and when they’re making their way up to the producer it adds some suspense and build and they get to the producer and he’s very flamboyant, like a Mad Hatter type, and he’s bouncing around, running all over the place—it’s just the contrast of emotions and this breath of fresh air with producer kind of being all over the place. The producer is a hundred-mile a minute kind of guy and that off of the detectives is a lot of the theme of the show, of the detectives saying, ‘We don’t what to be here. How are we going to get out of this guy what we need?’ And then the producer sings this five minute song about business, it’s called “It’s A Business” so he really gets into what business is and what it means to him.
How have the directors helped you shape this show?
Julia Lisa was really hands-on in the storyboarding process, as I was writing I was asking her a lot of things. She told me a lot of structurally how it should be and how it should go. So I always say that she’s kind of the story editor, she was able to direct the show even in the beginning stages. And from the start she had a lot of casting ideas and knew aesthetics for everything—she took the bull by the horn and visualized everything even before we got the first rehearsal.
What do you hope for this musical after this year’s Fringe Festival?
We hoping to look into some extensions and we’re hoping that the response is strong enough that we can continue to grow with it and continue to build on it. Luckily because we have been working on it for so long we’ll have a better grasp on it and hopefully there won’t be too much that needs to be changed. We would love to maintain some extensions with Three of Clubs and just keep it going and because of its styles and because of it’s worth, we’re already thinking about other styles, Broadway noir fill in the blank. And we would very much like for it to fill different mediums maybe film a couple scenes, maybe do a web series, we want it to become a title that is more well known and hopefully it will take off.
Step into the world of show business, murder and 40’s noir in this new musical Broadway Noir as it plays for five performances at Three of Clubs in Los Angeles.
Thursday, June 2nd @ 6:15 PM
Tuesday, June 7th @ 9:45 PM
Friday, June 10th @ 7:45 PM
Thursday, June 16th @ 6:15 PM
Sunday, June 19th @ 3:45 PM
For more information and tickets visit: www.hollywoodfringe.org