The following is an interview with Scott Peterman (creator – Sailor Man, professor – Parsons School for Design) regarding the recent launch of the 1989 sci-fi/comic book musical, Starmites, in partnership with the Open Fist Theatre Company. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Peterman about his creative process in staging a new production of the show, what he hopes that audiences may take away from the story, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: As the writer and director of Open Fist Theatre Company’s revival of Starmites – and in light of your extensive experience in writing and directing larger-than-life musical performances, what originally enticed you to join the production?
Scott Peterman: I’ve been thinking about Starmites for a loooong time (I’m a deep-dive student of failed or forgotten Broadway musicals with killer scores.), and was so grateful for the opportunity to mount it at the Open Fist. I couldn’t think of a better team to make something this weird, wacky, wild, and pure fun with.
BD: Your previous work has pushed the limits of cutting-edge technology while embracing the history and design of traditional stagecraft. Do you feel that your creative process in preparing for Starmites was similar to or varied from your typical process?
SP: Well, the Atwater Village Theater seats about 99 people and my most recent rock tour played the Forum and MSG, so a bit of a change in scale! But I actually think bringing techniques like projection mapping, virtual lighting that syncs with content, and virtual set design to a more intimate space can actually be much more present and powerful than in much larger venues. New AI tools and advancements in computer power allowed me to create the full two hours of content completely by myself, and run the entire 5760 x 1200 content raster off a single laptop, bringing a look and feel that just years ago would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to life with mostly elbow grease and sleepless nights.
BD: You have quite a talented cast and crew surrounding you within this production. What can you tell us about the shared process of working with the team to bring the story to life?
SP: I am so lucky to have found this talented cast, who represent a blend of old and new for me. My creative partner Cat Davis stars in the show as Diva, and it’s been fantastic to get back to what we started doing – me directing, her acting – over two decades ago since for the previous few years we’ve been mostly focused on writing and creative directing together. It was quite amazing how quickly we got back in the saddle!
Cat’s surrounded by a team of exuberant, energetic young actors – the show is about a high schooler and having a cast composed mostly of actors fresh out of college has really given it the sparkle it needs to delight audiences. In particular, I must mention our lead Talia Gloster, who plays the dual role of Eleanor and Bizarbara, and Bradley Sharper, who plays the handsome, but dorky, leader of the Starmites, Space Punk. Two future stars in the making, and we are very lucky to have them!
Technically, we have an incredibly accomplished team of designers. I took on production and content design myself, but had an amazing lighting designer, choreographer, and music director by my side. It was a highly collaborative process, and we came up with something so much richer by each bringing our own passion and decades of experience to bear.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. In what ways do you feel that the show may resonate with today’s audiences, and what do you hope that viewers will take away from the performance?
SP: Well, superhero stories are clearly the dominant media of our time, so much so that you can almost speak in shorthand with their key beats and moments (the way you can with Shakespeare or Greek Mythology). To bring a narrative structure that audiences are familiar with to life in a VERY different genre (Broadway musical) is a really fun and exciting way to engage audiences who might not typically go out for a musical (or vice versa, a superhero film). The story is one that’s been told a thousand times but never loses its punch – that each of us has a hero inside, all we need to do is own our voice and let her out, and we can change the world (or in this case, worlds).
BD: Are there any other upcoming projects that you are able to share with our readers?
SP: Sadly, our next two theatrical projects are under heavy NDA, but one of them involves bringing a lifelong dream to bear and I couldn’t be more excited! Keep your eyes peeled for Cat and my next writing project, The Mindful Adventures of Unicorn Island, a very exciting Lily Singh-produced animated YouTube Original launching soon.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Starmites and your other work?
SP: Come on down! Tickets are available now and selling fast, so book now to get to see this really fun and exciting show. You can see more of my work at petermania.com. For more information about Starmites and to purchase tickets, go to openfist.org.
*Featured photo by Jenny Graham