What I love so much about “Un-Blocking” the music is that I have found innovative projects I may have been deprived of if I was still only a part of the general media. Case in point; Xena: Warrior Musical, The Lost Scroll premiering at 3 Dollar Bill in Brooklyn September 21. If you were a fan of the 1990s show Xena” Warrior Princess, this musical is what you have been craving. Creators S.C. Lucier (Luci) and Meghan Rose are offering an original story and songs that pay tribute to the television series with a “restorative narrative”.
What does that mean? Meghan said, “It’s restorative in the sense that Xena and Gabrielle deserve to come out of the closet all while singing with a chorus as diverse as New York City and set to super fun music.”
Luci adds. “Growing up, I watched the show religiously. I had a hard time coming out, and I held on to Xena very tightly. It became my thing; my whole world for a while.” Luci was not alone. There is a league of superfans called Xenites, many of whom are in the LGBTQ+ community who have pledged their lifelong allegiance to the characters and mythologies of the Xenaverse. Luci said, “we wanted to write this musical to further character development that was not allowed at that time on the original show.”
Luci and Meghan realized that Lucy Lawless and Renee O’Connor are synonymous with Xena and Gabrielle and they might get pushback from fans. They conquered that hesitancy by engaging intense Xena fans. (Jessie MacBeth and Grace Hamashima assume these roles in the new production.) After a long pandemic, they held a concert in December 2021at Brooklyn’s Gold Sound Bar, and immediately both Luci and Meghan knew “they had something.” The duo were invited to go to a retreat for Xena fans this past April. “We had to see their responses before we went forward,” they said. The stakes were high as they climbed a mountain in California with eight suitcases full of music equipment!
“We wanted the audience to feel they are part of that stage. A lot of the feedback from audiences was that the show is healing. Seeing it on the physical stage made them feel complete in some way,” said Luci. The show was intended for the audience to have deeply transformative moments, and that seems to have been accomplished.
Success comes in part by having a completely synergistic process. While most shows have a book writer, a composer, a lyricist, a director and a musical director, Luci and Meghan share the credits. “We really enjoy the collaborative process. There is something special that comes out when you are linked in a vision. We have a very clear understanding of our goals. I think it makes the work a lot better. I love that about our process,” said Meghan.
After two staged readings, why did Luci and Meghan choose 3 Dollar Bill as the venue to put the show up on a stage? If you are not familiar with the space, owners describe it as a venue of inclusion celebrating queer identity and focused on allowing everyone to express themselves to their fullest, most genuine selves. It offers nights at the bar as well and incredible events with amazing sound and lights.
Meghan plays in various rock bands around the city, so these types of venues are part of her world every day. “I think after the pandemic, people were so hungry for live theater and live energy. We had talked about non-traditional venues early on, but after the pandemic, we knew we wanted the show to feel really fun and like a party rather than a sit-down theater experience. There’s an entire world of action to enjoy here.”
FYI, this is not the first time Luci and Meghan have worked together! They originally met when Meghan was musically directing Held: A Musical Fantasy which she co-wrote with Kelly Maxwell. Luci directed the show for The Fringe Festival in 2016 and then the NYMF in 2018. “Throughout that process we had a really good time working together. There was a lull in our schedules after that and we turned to each other and said… ‘what do you want to do next?’” Luci recalled. That turned out to be Xena! But, this won’t be the last time you will see this duo. Next up, a musical based on Atalanta. Luce said they already have a working plot and three songs!
In Greek mythology, Atalanta is said to have come into the world in the “undesirable state” of being female. As a result, her father had her carried into the woods and left to die. However, a bear found her and adopted her. As she grew older she began to spend time with hunters and was soon the best among them. She loved hunting and the outdoors and had no use for a man in her life.
During our interview, “Un-Block The Music” spoke with Luci and Meghan about their backgrounds and their paths to Xena, but you will have to wait for my book about Women In Theater to be released from McFarland Publishing. Maybe there will be more to say about Atalanta by then too!
In the meantime, for tickets to Xena: Warrior Musical, The Lost Scroll, go to https://www.xenawarriormusical.com/3-dollar-bill. And hurry. It’s a limited run from September 21 through 25.
Photo by Leandro Justen
That’s Meghan and Luci respectively standing fourth and fifth from the left