Supporting New Musicals – “Gay Card” at NRACT

ContemporaryMusicalTheatre.com is dedicated to bringing new musical theatre writers and songs out into the world for singers, teachers, educators and institutions to discover. So we’re always super excited to learn about productions of new musicals featuring writers from our roster being produced around the country.

Ryan Korell and Jonathan Keebler’s show, Gay Card, is now running at the North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre (NRACT) from June 7-23. Helmed by NRACT Artistic Director, Timothy E. Locklear, Gay Card is the hilariously heartwarming story of Logan Kapler, a one-friend loser who has never belonged. But now he’s starting college with a trick up his sleeve: he’s gay.

We put some questions to the show’s creative team to learn a little more about the show and find out how the show wound up in Raleigh.

CMT: How did NRACT decide to bring Gay Card to Raleigh, North Carolina? How did you first become aware of the show?
Timothy E. Locklear: I knew I would like an LGBTQ show to close out our 2018-2019 Season. Gay Card had been submitted for a program at NC State University. When the show wasn’t selected for NC State to produce, an associate who was a student there told me about Gay Card.  I was told how good it was and it would be great in our space. I contacted Ryan and Jonathan and was immediately entranced by the show. I met with them and decided it would be a great fit for NRACT.
Gay Card at NRACT
The cast of NRACT’s “Gay Card”
CMT: How are audiences responding to the show?
Timothy E. Locklear: Our audiences have thoroughly enjoyed our first week. And we’ve gotten some great reviews.
CMT: Your season is definitely quite diverse. We applaud you for selecting a gay themed musical. How does the show reflect the mission of NRACT?

Timothy E. Locklear: North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre strives to offer the community entertaining, innovative, and artistically valuable theatre experiences in an intimate space. Additionally, NRACT is committed to nurturing a lifelong passion for theatre by offering quality theatre education classes. We always try to show diverse and inclusive shows to hold a mirror up to society and to educate and enlighten our audiences.

CMT: Have any changes been made to the show for this production? If so, please explain what’s changed since previous incarnations of the show? How involved have you been?

RYAN & JONATHAN: We were very happy with the piece when we presented it as a workshop production in Charleston a few years ago, which included major rewrites to the show like a handful of new songs and revised character arcs. We made some minor tweaks between then and when we recorded the studio cast album (the Gay Card Studio Cast Recording is available on iTunes, Spotify, and all other platforms). These included lyrics that didn’t land right in the previous production and scenes whose flow needed to be tightened. It is that version of the show that NRACT is presenting in this production.

We were unable to spend significant time in North Carolina for this production, but we have acted as advisors to the cast and creative team on this production when they have asked for it. We believe, however, that one of the most exciting things about theatre and seeing our shows produced is what other people bring to them, so we always prefer to see their interpretation over imposing our own.

Ryan Korell
Jonathan Keebler

CMT: Can you talk about the process of casting and how that may have been different from previous productions? 

We weren’t heavily involved with casting in this production. We provided our thoughts about these characters to the folks at NRACT, of course, and we provided guidance about little changes they can make here and there to accommodate different casting choices.

CMT: Gay Card is a comedy, but you touch on some serious themes as well. Can you talk about your goals for the show when you set out to write it?

JONATHAN: I think all comedy ultimately comes from a place of pain. When I came out as gay, I sort of didn’t know what to do with my new identity. I didn’t know what it meant. And I certainly didn’t like other people telling me what it meant. I think most people go through stuff like that as they grow up, and I feel like if we were more understanding of the journeys that everyone else is on, the world would be a kinder place. This is a story that, in its telling, advocates this philosophy. And I hope, as a result, audiences leave it with more empathy in their hearts.

RYAN: Jonathan and I had similar experiences in our first few years after coming out. My goal was to tell the same story, but through music. It’s a catchy pop/rock score with a musical theatre flair, and I didn’t want to lose that, but I also wanted to delve deeper. The songs rarely stay in one key for very long, constantly changing and growing along with the characters as both book and music traverse some thorny transitions. Just as most of our characters disguise their insecurities with confident veneers, so the songs obscure their more complex inner workings with a healthy dose of ear candy.

* * *

Gay Card runs at the North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre June 7-23, 2019. For tickets and more information, go to NRACT.


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