A Post COVID-19 Musical
The world's first musical set after the pandemic has been released for performance.
David Spicer reports on Price Check - The Supermarket Musical.
A few years ago, a writing team pitched a musical to me called Price Check that was set in a supermarket. The musical had been in the workshop phase for ten years when Stage Whispers reviewer Kerry Cooper saw it in Adelaide.
“Consumerism turned into cabaret - what an innovative concept,” she wrote. “Warmly received by its Adelaide audience, this musical taps into the lives of four employees at a local supermarket and one annoying regular patron.
“This quirky tale is hilarious. I could see it being picked up by secondary schools across the country.”
Being an agent for musicals, that is the sort of reference I like to hear.
But then COVID-19 hit and I had to say to the writers - Sean Weatherly and Cerise de Gelder - that their musical was now out of date. The most exciting event in supermarket history was not in their show - the great toilet paper scramble of 2020. Another weakness in the commercial appeal of the musical was the size of the cast.
For their outings at fringe festivals, a cast of five and ensemble was very manageable. For high schools and amateur theatres it was too small.
So my request to the writers was - can you re-write the musical to make the cast larger and include a toilet paper scramble? They were well within their rights to flush my ideas down the proverbial as interference in their creativity!
The second act of the musical is set in October, at the start of the “Christmas” period, so my request was for a wholesale rewrite.
We came up with a compromise - instead of setting the musical during COVID-19, we would set it the year after in September 2022. A character called Kevin, a customer banned from the supermarket for hoarding toilet paper the year before, was written into the piece.
That way the whole structure of the musical could stay largely the same. The writers also included four new minor characters and additional chorus opportunities.
Work to prepare the musical for wider performance did not end there. The writers got a grant to properly prepare band parts for the musical and created a CD backing track.
Then we had to come up with a logo. Sean and I went through about a dozen drafts before we settled on a trolley with toilet paper rolls as the wheels.
All of this effort is because the competition in the music theatre world is ferocious. Schools and amateur theatres picking musicals to put on have the choice of staging the best musicals ever written.
Now for the blatant plug: to order a free perusal of Price Check: The Supermarket Musical visit bit.ly/3behXW5