And it begins again. The second installment of The Clifton Monroe Chronicles, The Case of the Murderous Mister, is being produced. It has been another long process of writing, editing, workshops and lots of laughter. Thomas and I have expanded the world of Clifton and Mattie to include some amazing new characters.
Introducing New Characters
Mamma Pearl is a loving motherly character with an interesting story to tell. Her baby sister named Ruby is gentle and kind… sure to win over the hearts of each audience member. Mattie is introducing her youngest brother, Chip Parker – a spunky pre-teen boy. There is also a wider range of smaller characters including dock workers, brutish thugs, “ladies of the night,” an Irish cop and more! The story also features a villain so sinister… well, we can’t give away too many surprises. But along with the “boos” and “hisses” for our villain there will be plenty of laughs and plot twists to keep even the greatest ace reporter on his or her toes. There is also two flashback scenes and new commercials and, as a bonus, we’re even featuring our own bran of “scratch and sniff” theatre, without the scratching… stay tuned for details.
Expanding the Universe
Creating and enhancing the world of Clifton Monroe is not as easy task. During the first installment we established the characters and gave the audience a glimpse of their life, but every good story must move forward and expand into a more complete universe. As in life, new elements and characters must come and go. Each of these characters must have their own personalities and stories to tell which need to be developed by the writer and inhabited by the actors. The number of characters have doubled and we now find that Clifton and Mattie’s world is becoming more complex with the introduction of new friends, hints of a love triangle, and family interactions. Personally, I have found it challenging to not only give the audience what they loved the first time around, but to improve upon it and give them more. The process is time consuming and tiring but every step is very rewarding.
The script started with a simple idea, which we then outlined into something more concrete that we could build around. That idea was then molded until we came up with the overall theme of the show. As the show took shape the dialogue was added and soon the first 25 pages were ready for an initial workshop. Thanks to the feedback of the cast and workshop audience, the script was edited (and in some areas heavily tinkered with) until it nearly doubled to 52 pages. The characters became more relatable to the audience. New characters were added to help convey the story. Clifton and Mattie’s relationship began to grow in a more realistic direction. You can only hint as something for so long before you must reveal the true nature of it. We have accomplished this with still more room to grow in the future. We then discussed what worked during the first production and what didn’t.
We made big changes to how the beginning of the show should be formatted. During the first installment we did not acknowledge the audience. We wanted to be alone in a studio performing a radio show. We felt that was cheating the audience out of really being a part of the show. We will now be performing the radio show for a live studio audience. That is the biggest format change. After that; the story was completed, commercial breaks were added, and live sound effects were introduced. Following more changes to the script, the final work is now in pre-production. We have partially cast the show and the hard part can now begin. This rehearsal process will be more intense and challenging but we have the right people for the job.
The Cast and Creative Team
Richard Mayer will be playing Clifton Monroe and The ShadowBox Theatre is producing the show. Leslie Boles will be returning as Matilda Parker, the loving “gal Friday.” Jake Bartush will be making his New Orleans debut by playing a wide range of characters. Kathyn Talbot will be joining us by lending her amazing voice to several of the roles which includes a night club’s star performer. Ashton Akridge will be playing a small boy and other voices. I am excited to hear how she pulls that off. Mamma Pearl and the Announcer will be announced soon. Last but not least we have snagged a very seasoned director, Harold Gervais. His vision for the show and excitement for the project is something I am extremely excited to have on board. As for me, I will be sitting this one out as a performer. I feel that every good writer should take a step back from his or her work and watch the magic happen. We have a talented group of people who know exactly what they are doing. I will be in the audience watching every show with a big smile on my face and probably with lots of ideas for the next show. Look for The Case of the Broadway Betty to be another Wham Bam story – premiering in the spring of 2013!
Co-creator and writer