For a long time, Michael R. Jackson used to balk at calling himself a composer. Which is pretty surprising coming from the guy whose musical “A Strange Loop” keeps winning awards, including, recently, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Listen to this week’s “Stagecraft” podcast below:
He used to tell people “I’m just a songwriter, I’m not a composer,” Jackson recalled on the new episode of Stagecraft, Variety‘s theater podcast. “To me, composers were fancier and more accomplished and more trained and all of those things.” Eventually, though, the self-taught musician felt confident enough to own up to it: “The more I kept doing it and doing it, and putting my work up, and integrating it with book writing, I learned to embrace the title of composer.”
A “self-referential” story that loosely draws on experiences from Jackson’s own life, “A Strange Loop” follows the creative and personal struggles of a young, broke composer in New York City. The musical became a buzzy Off Broadway hit when it premiered last year at Playwrights Horizons, and it’s since gone on to win a slew of other awards, including the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for new musical.
The show was set for a D.C. production in the fall ahead of a potential Broadway run before the coronavirus pandemic hit pause on that plan. But the D.C. run at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company is still on the books, now scheduled for summer 2021. And Broadway remains in the sights of the show’s producers and creatives.
“I dream about the day when it opens at whatever Broadway theater will have us,” Jackson said. “The first time we get to hear the cast sing [in the opening number] ‘big, black and queer-ass American Broadway show’ on a Broadway stage, that will be a strange loop.” He added with a laugh, “I feel like I will have ‘Secret‘-ed it!”
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