Discussing Fantasy with Roger Griffin

Roger Griffin Interview

 Roger Griffin has successfully dedicated his life to the arts.  He possesses vast expertise in multiple facets of the arts both in performance and behind the scenes.  He used his scenic design skills to create an idyllic living environment for himself and his wife.   Not only can he build his own bridge, which he did but he can weave a tale about the troll who lives beneath it and write songs for all the fairy tale characters who cross it!  “I am 72 years old and the new kid on the block in NYC. I’ve lived at 16 different addresses in 7 states. I’ve been a song writer, actor, scene designer, director, film and video producer, and the lyricist and/or book writer for four musicals. I am a private person who prefers the quiet solitude of a house in the country to the hustle and bustle of city life. In 2015 my wife and I moved into an environmentally friendly home in the woods, which we designed ourselves, and where I have cleared my own walking trails and built my own wooden bridge across a 30ft wide ravine. Deer and fox parade past my office window daily against a backdrop of trees bathed half the year in a magical light intimately known to both woodlands and artists alike.”

Mr. Griffin might not mind the nickname, “Al in Wonderland” considering how his passion for fairy tales and his artistic testament to the work of Lewis Carroll created new Jabberwockian works for all to enjoy.  His other fairy tale musical, After Happily Ever After had a happy ending for Mr. Griffin.  He tells us all about his lovely journey with these two pieces.  “I am an unabashed romantic, reveling in stories of magic and myth – the eternal gateways at the divide between the real and the imagined, connecting one to the other and revealing truth and mystery in the process.

Jabberwocky, Stuff and Nonsense
Lewis Carroll’s nonsense poems have always appealed to the child in me and in the early 90’s I recorded the title track as a Christmas present for friends and relatives with children. Some years later, while cleaning out old files, I came across the recording again and was inspired to record a selection of Carroll’s poems to add to “Jabberwocky” and create a compilation CD. Last year I came across several animations of “Jabberwocky” online that inspired me to make a video using my recording and illustrations I commissioned from Yvette Gilbert, an artist based in the UK whose work appealed to my aesthetic. I envisioned an ancient warriors tale for the piece and supplied Yvette with mockups of the characters and monsters as I thought they might look. Then she created wonderful pen and inked watercolor illustrations which I used to create both a video and an eBook of the “Jabberwocky” poem.

The video is used on the homepage of the website:

http://www.jabberwockystuffandnonsense.com

where the eBook for “Jabberwocky” and the audio files for 9 nonsense poems may be purchased.”

 After Happily Ever After, (AHEA) began as three ten-minute musicals performed as part of the Monday Night Musicals series at Theater Building Chicago’s Writer’s Workshop,f or which I wrote the “book” and Susan DiLallo wrote lyrics. Thirteen years later, I was invited to New York by Tony Award-winning producer Ken Davenport to join his mastermind group for theatremakers. While in New York, I reconnected with Susan, who had returned to the city some years earlier.  Laughing about how much fun we had in Chicago writing our fractured fairy tale musicals, we agreed that light-hearted entertainment was just what we ALL needed coming out of the pandemic and decided to expand upon the stories we wrote in Chicago to create a full-length musical that would be just as much fun for others as it was for us!  Susan introduced me to award winning composer Stephen Weiner and he joined us to create a brand-new score.” “With themes of redemption, second chances, endings becoming new beginnings, what happens at the conclusion of 3 famous fairy tales became “After Happily Ever After.” I submitted our show for consideration to The Players Theatre Self-Production Residency program and, by so doing, became the de facto producer when AHEA was selected for the May 2022 Residency. We held a table read at The Players Theatre in November 2021, then undertook rewrites based on that reading. In May 2022 AHEA became the first Residency Production in the history of the program ever to be granted an extended run.  The target audience for Jabberwocky, Stuff and Nonsense is children of all ages 6 to 102 and for After Happily Ever After, high school to adult age and of course musical lovers.”

Mr. Griffin loves the whole process of writing the book, music and lyrics.  He’s hoping his audiences walk away happy from having a positive theatre experience.  “I want the audiences to walk away with a delight in the fun, feeling uplifted, and enlightened by the soft messages.”

The current political climate is not really impacting Mr. Griffin’s play in terms of it changing.  “I am attracted to work with strong emotional centers and a sense of fun, with an emphasis on what makes us the same v.s. what divides us.”

Since the first time around was such a success with an unprecedented extended run at The Players Theatre, Mr. Griffin would love to see AHEA return to Off-Broadway and beyond.  “We are currently seeking another developmental production with a theatre interested in developing new work like AHEA, with the ultimate goal of a return to Off-Broadway and/or licensing.”

Mr. Griffin has a brand-new production in the works and will be tweaking AHEA.  “Next will be rewrites for AHEA and The Piper ‘unfaithfully adapted from “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” by Robert Browning.”  Here’s hoping his career continues to have a fairy tale ending and that all of his work lives happily ever after!

Griffin with Broadway producer, Ken Davenport

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