I began writing The Devil and Daisy Jane in 2004 when co-creator Jeremy Lewit and I were both living and working in New York City.Â What began as an unemployed performer’s desire to channel her creativity while waiting for the phone to ring quickly became the full-time project of a first-time writer. Fast-forward to the present — The Devil and Daisy Jane is about to open for a two-week run beginning August 4 at the Actors Co-op as part of the Los Angeles Festival of New American Musicals.
The Devil and Daisy Jane all began with an idea I had to construct a musical comedy with brand new pop songs – songs that were radio-friendly yet still told a clear, timeless story.Â Â A Faustian tale set in a modern-day world where pop stars reign supreme and entertainment news dominates the media seemed like the perfect show concept for the more contemporary songs I liked to compose.Â At the time, Jeremy was working as an assistant director and stagehand in many Broadway houses, and I was selling tickets to Off-Broadway shows at Playwrights Horizons and hitting the musical theater audition pavement.Â With plenty of callbacks and no roles, I literally sat down one cold October day with a cup of tea and decided to write a musical.
During the first few months we experimented a lot with characters and ideas.Â I wrote melodies and lyrics and Jeremy formed and reformed the story around the concepts that came to me through the music.Â We cut a demo with eight songs – I self-produced the background tracks on my computer, sang the role of “Daisy” and filled the other roles with friends who at that time were in Broadway shows (Hairspray, The Lion King, Mamma Mia, etc.) Â Many songs would come and go, but some of the initial concept songs ““ songs written even before the script ““ would stick around and shape the characters and plot. Â “Change Your Mind”, the Devil’s pivotal seduction song, was one of the first songs written and demoed, and still remains in the show today.Â In 2005 an early version of the show was accepted in the NYC Fringe Festival, but Jeremy and I were unable to come up with the admission fee and subsequent production costs.
In 2007 we moved the project to Los Angeles, and as it turned out, La-La Land was the perfect setting to develop a musical about the price of fame.Â An invited table read in 2009, along with several informal readings with friends, helped us shape new ideas.Â After settling in, we found the LA theater scene to be an open-arms community chock full of talent and opportunity.Â Gina D’Acciaro helped me produce the next step — the first staged reading of The Devil and Daisy Jane in January of 2009 with director/choreographer Robert Marra.
We took the feedback we received from this reading and continued working on the show.Â The entertainment industry was getting more ridiculous – perfect fodder for musical comedy and particularly, our show.Â In late 2010 The Devil and Daisy Jane was accepted into the Los Angeles Festival of New American Musicals.Â This would mean a staged production would be in the works for the summer of 2011.Â That January, Gina and I produced another staged reading, this time with a full rock band lead by music director Brent Crayon.Â All three nights of the reading were sold out and received standing ovations.Â Excitement was in the air, but more writing and rewriting would take place.
In May of 2011 the song “The Biggest Baddest Star” brought the house down at Playwrights’ Arena’s annual benefit, Hot Night in The City.Â The audience was composed of many of L.A.’s top theater professionals, and the buzz had officially begun.Â A successful Kickstarter campaign for the show allowed us to hire a great team of LA’s top actors and designers to begin bringing the show to life.
As I am writing this, we are in our third week of rehearsals for our first fully staged presentation of the show.Â We are billing it as a “staged workshop presentation” as part of the Festival of New American Musicals, because we are self-producing and we can afford to pay for only two weekends of shows.Â We are hoping that we will get picked up by a theater company that would like to do a full, six-week run so that it can officially claim to do the “world premiere” production and get reviews from papers like the LA Times. We realize most publications won’t review a two-week run.
My goal of writing a relevant yet highly entertaining piece with radio-friendly music and a strong, comedic story with a great message has not changed.Â I think if theater is to survive and thrive, it must reflect the world we live in today.Â I believe our show does, and I look forward to what the future holds for The Devil and Daisy Jane.
The Devil and Daisy Jane, a staged workshop presentation of a new pop/rock musical at the Actors Co-Op, 1760 N. Gower St., Hollywood. Aug. 4-14. Thurs.-Fri. 8 pm; Sat. Aug. 6, 2:30 and 8 pm; Sat. Aug. 13, 8 pm; Sun. Aug 14. 2:30 pm. For reservations, call 323-462-8460 or visit www.actorsco-op.org. For more info: www.TheDevilandDaisyJane.com
Lisa Marinacci is an accomplished singer, actress and writer who holds a master’s degree in Professional Writing from Carnegie Mellon University. Â In 2007, she wrote original music for a production of James And The Giant Peach at the Hawaii Theater and co-produced a production of Snoopy!!! The Musical at L.A.’s McCadden Place Theater. Â Lisa writes and performs original music for the LA-based band Bliss Bomb and writes and produces the wacky web series Welcome To California! www.LisaMarinacci.com