ATP! Exclusive: PANIC! The Musical
Alter The Press!: Before we go into the concept of PANIC! The Musical, what is your background in the industry?
Alexis Acar: Actually, I’ve always been on the other side of the table, so to speak. I was always acting; I actually started off in opera when I was 11 years old and later worked with The Washington National Opera. I just kind of went the musical theatre route, and never really thought I’d ever create one, let alone direct. However, I think the knowledge I’ve gained from being on “the other side” has seriously allowed for a better understanding of the directorial process.
ATP: How did the concept of the musical come about?
Alexis: The concept originally came into my mind when I was probably 13/14 years old. I remember telling my friends “This is such a cool album, Panic! should totally be a musical!” and they responded with “You’re only saying that because you like Broadway and you think everything should be a musical.” Then over the summer the band released “Miss Jackson” and the idea come back into mind. That night I stayed up and looked at all of their music, put a bunch of songs together, and came up with an outline of the story. And now we’re here.
Christina Rose Sabia: I saw all the buzz Alexis was creating with this show back in October, and I became extremely interested from a spectator’s perspective. She informed me she was looking for a book writer, and I told her I’d write an audition side. An hour later I presented her with the meeting of our two leads, Andi and Oliver, and she fell in love with the characters and my take on her original concept. After that, she saw no need for any other writer. It was meant to be.
ATP: So you’ve been a Panic! fan for a while?
Alexis: I was and still am very dedicated to Panic! at the Disco; I’ve been supportive since the MySpace days. The first time I ever heard their music was the demo of “Lying is the Most Fun A Girl Can Have”, and I’ve been true to my boys ever since.
ATP: As for their music, you’ll be using songs from all their albums?
Alexis: As of now, we have all four studio albums incorporated. We have also integrated a few of the past bonus tracks and singles. We’re really pulling from all of Panic!’s catalogue in order to make it cohesive.
ATP: I know the musical is still a major work in progress, but what can you divulge at this stage?
Christina: We've heard people saying they think our show is going to allude to some fan-fiction version of Ryden. Considering we do not know Panic! personally, we cannot assume that relationship even occurred. What I can say from my research on the band members, through interviews and performances, is that Brendon Urie and Ryan Ross's relationship is ironically A LOT like Alexis and I. We always get assumed as being together, just by being together (laughs). But we are actually just the best of friends...So sorry to disappoint, but I write from all different forms of inspiration. Music has always been my everything so, as a result, these characters are influenced by musicians I personally follow, people I've encountered in real life, including myself, and of course, Panic's lyrics. I can release our updated summary...Oliver Murphy, a confident musician, is recovering from the reckless behavior he developed after prematurely being thrown into the touring scene. His fortitude is suddenly uplifted after meeting the pristine Andi Witko, who is slowly but surely straying away from her faith after a recent tragedy lead her to question its validity. Panic! the Musical explores the journey of two young souls colliding their world’s, and forming an unconventional bond that proves to be a mixed blessing.
Alexis: We’ll let you in on a secret. Have you ever seen a production of Seussical, where the Cat in the Hat narrates the show and appears throughout as minor characters? Well, Panic! has an Emcee who acts as the narrator that keeps the whole entire show going. It leads to a shocking plot twist at the very end, so stay tuned!
ATP: At this point, where does everything stand regarding where and when this musical can be seen?
Alexis: As of when and where, we don’t have a definite location. Right now we are doing a developmental workshop based in New York City. In addition to that, we’re definitely having a spring and summer concert series; that will feature songs from the show performed by our cast. All further PANIC! related updates will be posted on our Facebook page!
ATP: Are any of the past or present Panic! at the Disco members playing any sort of role on stage or behind the scenes?
Christina: As of right now, we have not been directly involved with Panic! at the Disco. We can only continue if we have the band's support and approval of our concept and hope they believe in it enough to get involved! It has been a long process that we've been working on since Day 1. Our overall motive has been contacting people who can get us personal contact with the band itself. At this point, that's really what will get this show rolling. However, we must also present a flawless proposal so they even take us seriously. With American Idiot, Michael Mayer was an established director approaching Green Day, so them saying yes was expected. We have to prove ourselves that much more to be even be recognized. We believe in the show and have already created a supportive fanbase. Now we just have to hope that the band will back the production and approve the project!
ATP: You just brought up American Idiot, which was the Broadway musical involving the Green Day album of the same name. What do you think about the comparisons to your musical and theirs?
Alexis: Now of course people are going to try to say we are “pulling an American Idiot 2.0,” and we knew going into this that would a common topic of discussion. We’re not a copy or an edited version of American Idiot. I believe Michael Mayer did an amazing job with his production, so the comparison is definitely not a bad thing! However, we are not trying to be “American Panic”, we are Panic! The Musical.
ATP: What goals are you hoping to accomplish with the making of PANIC! The Musical?
Christina: You know, I’ve always been a music kid--a songwriter. I knew the bare bones minimum about Broadway until I met Alexis. My interests lied in rock music--hardcore, indie, etc. The lyrics and intricate melodies that came from band musicians never really crossed my mind to integrate into theatre. However, after working on this show, I now think it is genius. I want this show to grasp the attention of people who might not have necessarily given rock music a chance in the past, and vice versa with those unfamiliar with musical theatre. For now, one of our big goals would be that-- having the opportunity to expose both sides to the other and expand the demographics, Panic! is perfect for that.
Alexis: In terms of where we want to get the show, obviously Broadway is the dream. To get a show into a workable place can take years. Honestly, where we’ve gotten so far in a few months has taken others years. The creative team and I are shocked that this is already out in the media so soon. I think that if we lost it all tomorrow, God forbid, I would honestly have taken this as an amazing experience. We have so many dedicated and supportive fans out there. We are all just hoping for the best.
Christina: The work is worth it. You have to understand that Alexis and I’s dynamic is that of a of a power team, I guess you could say, when you put us together. Once we start something, no matter how big, we work to get it done. It is so scary, but we are willing to push as long and hard as it takes to make it happen.
- Gina Catalano
More information about PANIC! The Musical can be found here.