Ryan Johnson, Published February 16 2014
Making a Scene: Founding member of local group looks forward to lampooning classic musicals
The 1994 vocal performance graduate of Concordia College and five-time Trollwood alumna gave up performing for a few years, instead focusing on raising her three children.
But she couldn’t escape a passion for music that started at an early age. Her love for “Fiddler on the Roof” made her briefly consider converting to Judaism, she said, and her childhood goal of landing the title role in “Annie” meant she could be found belting out “Tomorrow” in grocery store aisles just in case a talent scout was picking up milk that day.
Schulz was one of the founding members of Music Theatre Fargo-Moorhead in 2005, saying at the time, the community lacked an outlet for performers like her. The company has steadily grown, putting on popular performances of some of the biggest musicals around.
Now, the group is preparing for another kind of performance, a tongue-in-cheek parody of many of the most beloved musicals, including “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Cats,” “Rent,” “A Chorus Line,” “Into the Woods,” “Chicago” and “Hello, Dolly!”
The company will next perform “Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest Hits” beginning this weekend, taking on the send-up of some of the biggest songs and writers in musical theater – but all out of love for the art, she said.
What’s it like to spoof classic musicals?
It’s kind of fun, actually.
I learn things really quickly usually. The first time I went to study a Stephen Sondheim piece, I was like, “I cannot believe how hard this is because every phrase is different, and it doesn’t end predictably, and the words are rhyming but then sometimes they’re not.” All the rules that you think of what would work and be easy and make sense, he doesn’t.
The people who wrote “Forbidden Broadway” are seriously musical theater geeks, totally. They make fun of “Les Miserables,” which is my favorite musical of all time. But it’s hilarious because when you’re watching it, you are thinking Act 1 is really long, and then there’s this sort of dichotomy like we’re watching people who are poor and absolutely horrible and then you buy a T-shirt with a starving person on it and you wear it around. It looks at that, too, which I think is funny.
We’re doing a take on “Spamalot,” which is already kind of making fun of itself, so that actually is very much like the piece.
They make fun of “Rent,” which I think is a really important piece in musical theater, but it can be really self-important. It’s very funny because instead of “Rent,” it’s “Rant.”
What should we expect from “Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest Hits?”
First of all, be prepared for some great singing. Even if you don’t know the musicals they’re parodying, we’ll parody Carol Channing and Ethel Merman and Barbra Streisand and those folks. It’s some great singing and just some really funny antics.
I think the show works on levels. My parents will come and they won’t get any of it, but they’re going to love it because they like the music and the singing. Some people will really get into hearing the lyrics and will know who this writer is who wrote this musical and they make fun of that writer.
What is it about musicals that make them so loved?
I’m the sort of person being a singer that I’ve always experienced life that way. Not that I go around singing all the time, but I always will hear something and think, “Oh, that sounds like a musical.”
I think musicals make things really accessible for people. Everybody can experience music, whether or not you perform it. A musical kind of boils down human emotions to a phrase and that imprints on your heart, or imprints on your funny bone.
What’s next for you?
I’m performing with Act Up Theatre. Last summer, I was in “Bare,” and we’re getting ready to take that to Scotland this summer.
Our next show for MTFM is we’re collaborating with Act Up to do “Next to Normal” this summer, and they’re taking that to the Fringe Festival. In the fall, we’re doing a Halloween show.
If You Go
WHAT: Music Theatre Fargo-Moorhead presents “Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest Hits”
WHEN: Thursday through March 2; 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays with 2 p.m. Sunday matinees.
WHERE: The Stage at Island park, 333 4th St. S., Fargo
INFO: To purchase tickets, visit http://musictheatrefm.com or call (701) 235-6778.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587