Foys Talk Rewards & Challenges Of Creating Virtual Show For Front Row Fringe Festival: Hear “Z Team” Cast On “From Bullets To Broadway” Rebroadcast 3/27/21

As you all know, “Un-Block The Music” is focused on music…hence the title of the blog! On this past weekend’s broadcast of WFYL 1180 AM’s “From Bullets To Broadway, Anatomy of A Show,” (FBTB) show host Sgt. Dan McCaughan focused on the Foys’ comedy, Z Team, which had its premiere during the Front Row Fringe Festival. Okay…so how do I write about that? Jacob had a wonderful point. While this comedy is different than what he and his dad, Dr. Jeff Foy, have written up to now, musical training can only help.

“While Z Team is not a musical, the dialog has its own rhythm and musicality to it and that is what carries the story and keeps you involved in all of the random interjections and fast paced dialog,” Jacob said.  “The dialog is the “music and lyrics” of the play, and it did not feel right to turn it into a musical,” Jeff added. “There is no justification for music in the show. We wanted the focus to be on the dynamic of the group rather than the emotion of each specific character.”

Jacob said, creating a comedy also challenged their writing ability which also helps with their musicals. The plot was held together by dialog rather than “the crutch of music It exercised our playwriting muscles.”

Z Team plays out like an episode of I Love Lucy. “Un-Block The Music” couldn’t help but think slapstick. The show’s plot? “Jerry’s failing advertising company is struggling to keep up with its most important projects, so when his girlfriend “asks” him to create a commercial for her terrible new product (a yoga mat with a blender on it), he comes up with an innovative idea- to take the worst person from each department and assemble them to create the commercial. (https://thezteam.show/).

Whatever the Foys’ reason for writing a comedy, it was a rip-roaring success and I look forward to seeing how it develops. Several of the actors from the festival were guests on “FBTB,” making the segment itself a fun listen.

Both Jeff and Jacob said, “We are in need of happiness right now. We hope theater that comes after covid distances itself from what we have been going through. It’s exactly why we did this show now.”

As for the Front Row Fringe Festival overall, Jeff and Jacob, were co-producers of the festival along with lead producer Lahser Rd. Theatricals (most recently of Broadway’s Slave Play). Additionally, Jacob did a Q&A seminar called Music For Musicals, Getting Your Songs Ready For The Stage. “Un-Block The Music” will talk to Jacob about his tips before the next broadcast of FBTB.

Of course, “Un-Block The Music” cannot write about Fringe without commenting on the absolute success of Safe & Sound The Musical. It was such a success that the show’s writing/production team, Holly Block and Elizabeth Jerjian will present a special streaming encore on Saturday, March 27th at 4PM EST/8PM GMT (London). The show swept the Festival awards, winning a total of 10, including Best Musical, Best Writing (Music), Best Director and Best of Fringe. 

To refresh your memory, Safe & Sound the Musical brings attention to mental health, self-love, toxic masculinity, equality and kindness. The character “Love,” portrayed by Holly, guides three characters toward rediscovering who they are by reconnecting them with their inner child.

Safe and Sound The Musical stars Front Row Fringe Festival’s Best Female Performance and Breakout Star winner Gabbie Sansone, Ryan Doyle and Coleman Cummings. And yes…Z Team/Emergency’s Jacob Foy is the instrumental orchestrator.

Coleman told “Un-Block The Music,” that one of his dreams has always been to originate a role. “I had such a good time working on (the character) James; mostly to sing a song and not have any preconceived notions about how it’s supposed to sound and be sung. It’s very freeing, in a way, to be given some artistic freedom to make my own choices and make it my own.”

Ryan said, “Originating the role of Michael means an incredible amount to me. Michael is such a beautiful soul, with a heartbreakingly real, vulnerable, and inspiring journey. The words Michael says and the lyrics Michael sings in this show cut deep, and having the opportunity to dive into them as an actor was truly a gift. The music that surrounded his journey was such a guiding force for me in this process, and the melodies he sings invoked so much emotion as I rehearsed and performed them. His story is one that I hold close to my heart as I connect to many aspects of his journey. His discovery of who he truly is, and the acceptance and love he gains for himself during this show resonates with me deeply. I see a lot of myself in Michael, and I also see lots of people I know and love in him too. This is why originating this role has been and continues to be one of my most treasured experiences as an artist to date.”

Along with amazing opportunity, as the first virtual fringe, the Front Row Fringe Festival brought with it challenges; the biggest challenge making the audience feel like they are in a theater not in their living room. As Holly has told “Un-Block The Music,” Something people don’t do with virtual theater is direct it like it is on the stage. You don’t want it to be boring. If you direct it like theater, it will come off better.  When you direct for the stage, you need to direct to the 80th row in the back as well as the front row. It’s different on camera, but you have an added opportunity as well because the camera is focused more closely on the actors.”

Coleman said, as an actor, “Working on a virtual musical was a challenge and such a unique experience. It was hard to be acting to a camera or to an empty room. But it was so rewarding when the final product was released and you got to see everything come together. Another difficult part was not being able to become friends or get to know the other people working on the show. So much of what I love about theater is the community and the people. I’m definitely looking forward to that in the future!”

Ryan added. “My experience working on our virtual production of Safe & Sound was magical. This story moves everyone in a way that transcends the medium, and it was really inspiring to see how the emotion and story was able to still shine through zoom rehearsals and our zoom performance. It was challenging not being able to be in the same room and physically connect with the other actors, but I felt we made up for this by amping up our emotional connection to one another. This cast and this team are some of the most incredible people and artists I have ever met. It was truly a special experience, and I cannot wait until we get to do it in person!!”

Ryan has released two albums, and his new single The Key” was released in January with a third album coming later this spring. “Un-Block The Music” had  the pleasure of talking to Ryan about his new album and how he meshes the two pieces of his career, pop and theater. That interview will run on this blog on or around April 7, so stay tuned.  If you follow “Un-Block The Music,” by hitting the button on the lower right corner of this page, you will get emails every time a new story is posted.

Quick note about Gabbie. She has been touring with the show Back To Black, which pays tribute to Amy Winehouse. She interprets and portrays Amy by sharing her life from talented teen to award winning international star.

Rounding out Safe & Sound’s Front Row Fringe Festival honors were

Best Ensemble, Most Viewed Show, Fringe Directors Choice Award, and Audience’s Favorite Show Award   (https://www.frontrowfringefestival.com/).

For tickets to the March 27 showing of Safe and Sound The Musical, go to https://www.safeandsoundmusical.com/

If you missed this past weekend’s broadcast of FBTB, you can tune in on Saturday, March 27 at noon. If  you want to dig into archives, go to https://www.1180wfyl.com/ and hit “podcasts.” 

If you want to her music from Emergency and/or the Foys second musical, One Night Only, check out these links:

https://www.emergencymusical.com/

https://www.onenightonlythemusical.com/

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