1. What made you decide to write a musical based
on the movie speed?
In 2008 me and my friend Whitney were discussing the mainstream theater trend of turning popular movies into musicals. Hairspray and The Producers were huge then and the plot lines of those movies meshed beautifully in a musical theatre format. The discussion went strange when we began to brainstorm movies that would not mesh well in that format. The movie Speed was brought up and it was comedic gold. Keanu Reeves, crazy Dennis Hopper and an exploding bus? Not typical musical theatre.
2. What has been your favorite part of the writing process?
Your least favorite part?My favorite part was watching the movie and studying the speech patterns of Dennis Hopper. He had a very distinct way of communicating in that film. He was hilarious, campy and unsettling. The perfect crazy person. Translating that speech pattern into my own narrative and into situations that are out of context from the film was really fun.My least favorite? Scoring the music. It is boring. Time consuming. Lots of math and computer stuff. But it is necessary.
3. When you load the toilet paper dispenser, do you have the toilet paper coming our forward from the top or behind from the top?
I am so glad you asked this question. I prefer my toilet paper coming towards me from the top. It is easier to manage how many squares I am grabbing and it also makes it easier to admire the lovely stitching on the Quilted Northern brand.
4. What is your favorite musical comedy?
And why? Urinetown. It's set in a post apocalyptic world where corporations charge citizens to go to the bathroom. It is a fun show but also has a lot to say about flaws in finance and regulation.
5. Can you pinpoint something in your past that made you think you wanted to write plays or be involved in theatre alltogether?
My grandmother was very sick and was bedridden most of the time that I remember her. I would sit on her bed and she would tell me stories. Not fairy tales. Real stories. Stories of her past in Alaska. My grandfather in WW2 (things that he would not readily talk about). The JFK Assassination. Real things that were probably far beyond what a 7 year old would be able to grasp. I thought she was awesome and I wanted to be just like her. Now as an adult I think that writing an essay/play/song and putting that energy out there is way that I sort of keep her close. Theatre provided me with that comfort.
6. What is your favorite Keanu Reeves movie (other than SPEED)? Sandra Bullock movie? And would you ever be interested in writing a musical parody of either of these?
My favorite Keanu Reeves movie? Devil's Advocate. . Would I make a parody of it? Only if Al Pacino agreed to reprise his role as the Devil. Sandra Bullock movie? Practical Magic. Would I make a parody? I feel like it should be an actual musical and not a parody.
7. Okay, two part question: a. What is your favorite mode of public transportation? b. Can you relate a specific experience involving this?
a. Does the Disneyland monorail count?
b. I don't have a particularly interesting story about the monorail. Disney keeps a pretty clean train though.
8. What's been your favorite part of watching your work come to life on the stage?
Watching something that was just words from your head on a piece of paper suddenly become three dimensional is always a magic moment to see. Also watching people make choices with it that you did not consider when putting it on paper and finding that their discovery worked better than how you imagined it.
9. How do you decide what moments of the play require music/songs?
If there is a moment where more can be said with music than with dialog. That is my general rule. I tend to start with the subtext of what is not being said in the script and building from those ideas. With comedy it is kind of tricky finding the line between a song that is necessary to forward the story and a song that is there strictly for entertainment. I tend to break that rule with comedy.
10. How many penguins do you think you could fit in a city bus?
Over two years ago I met Paige Scott at a restaurant and I thought she was hilarious. She was clever, irreverent, and downright smart and I thought to myself "this is a person worth knowing". Little did I know at that time I would be working regularly with her at Q and witnessing her brilliance on and off stage throughout the city.
Then, during one of these "brilliance witnessing" events, she happened to mentioned that she had written some material for a parody of the 1994 film Speed... and then she same me a little bit of a song called "My Life's the Bomb". I fell in love. I asked her to write a full musical for Q Artistry to produce and the rest is history.
And history shall be made as 8 people sing their way through a 90s terrorist story of love, impending disaster and public transportation. All because of the incredible imagination of a lady named Paige Scott and her hilarious brilliance.
— Ben Asaykwee