In 2007, Peter Michael Marino wrote a musical version of Desperately Seeking Susan with music from the Blondie songbook, though the show ended up desperately seeking an afterlife following its London and Tokyo engagements.
Well, here it is:
Desperately Seeking the Exit, Marino’s one-man show about his experience!
I saw it Sunday night at one of New York’s most atmospheric restaurants, the Hourglass Tavern (on Restaurant Row), and delighted to Marino’s tireless energy and humor.
As he tells it, the musical was victimized by direction that sucked out a lot of the motivations and made everything small, unrealistic choreography that tried to make everything large, and various internal battles.
(Director Joe Mantello was out after saying he should get more money, Debbie Harry got extra cash after she said the poster appropriated her look, and so on, until a producer wanted the Gary character’s name changed to Larry because she had an ex named Gary and it made her uncomfortable!)
And yet, Marino enjoyed seeing the finished product and was devastated when critics said they were desperately seeking a better show.
Debbie only saw it in the closing week, said she liked it but wished there weren’t so many New Jersey jokes in the script, and then informed Marino that she was not going to pursue the project anymore.
But it ended up in Tokyo, where a surreal reimagining was a big hit with audiences, who even laughed at the Jersey jokes!
And at least Marino has a hit with the show about the show.
I’d take out the gag about colon cancer and the too-familiar bit about how the English call cigarettes “fags,” but otherwise, Marino has gotten into the groove of the delicious absurdity of putting on a musical, especially the way passive-aggressive cluelessness can kill a wannabe exuberant entertainment.
And I loved his asking the crowd, “Has anyone seen the movie Desperately Seeking Susan?”
“Then why didn’t you come to see my fucking musical?”