Save the Robots
May 11, 7 p.m. at The Players Theatre, 115 MacDougal St., Greenwich Village, NYC, https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/912773.
Ed Katz, out of Westport, wants to make the world safer for rock musicals. A few years ago, the 50something Katz, a marketing specialist who’d founded his own ad agency, was dragged to see the musical Mamma Mia by his wife. He enjoyed the show for what it was, but wondered why there weren’t more shows for rock fans of the same vintage.
This led to a plan to write his own musical around songs by Cheap Trick, and a chance meeting (at adjacent restaurant tables) with Cheap Trick guitarist songwriter/guitarist Rick Nielsen.
That project is proceeding apace, but meantime Katz got wind of a stage show called Europa being adapted from songs by Hagatha, a New York new wave band which played regularly at the legendary CBGBs in the 1980s. “They brought me in at the casting phase” as a co-writer and co-producer, Katz says, but after a presentation at the Kraine Theater in the East Village, it was decided that a completely different script should be attached to the songs.
That new show, Save the Robots, has its world premiere May 11 at the Players Theatre, 115 MacDougal St. in New York’s Greenwich Village. (Tickets cost $26; visit https://www.facebook.com/SavetheRobotstheMusical for details). The plot is loosely based on the classic nonmusical play R.U.R. by Karel Capek, which actually coined the word “robot.” Capek’s play is about the invention of mechanical men who ultimately revolt and run amok. Save the Robots “takes R.U.R. in a different direction, takes it further,” says Katz, who co-wrote the script with Susman, George Tsalikis and Clark Render.
“It develops into a police state. Humans feel threatened by the robots and try to kill them.” Except for one heroic soul who tries to save them, hence the show’s title.
Save the Robots had a reading a few months ago, where it was recommended that the show lighten up. “We were told that the story was too serious, so now we have fun with it,” Katz says. “We made it kind of campy. It’s tongue-in-cheek, with lots of references to other sci-fi books and movies.” When a power ballad is played, a line of robots wave cigarette lighters in the air.
As that image, and the Hagatha CBGBs legacy, suggests, Save the Robots has an ‘80s feel. “But it’s not only one type of music,” Katz insists. “It goes from straight-out rock to poppy to sounding like Giorgio Moroder.” A three-person band, which includes Hagatha founder Rob Susman on keyboards alongside guitar Billy Seidman and drummer Dave Anthony, backs the seven-person cast. All but one of the actors were part of the ill-fated Europa version of this project. The cast includes at least a couple of old-school rock screamers: Scott Lovelady of the ‘80s tribute act Rubix Kub, Paulie Z of the band Z02 and his own cable series Z Rock. Paulie Z was just designated a "New Yorker of the Week" by NY1 TV.
The two-performance showcase production is meant to attract producers and investors. There are still plenty of good seats available.
And those seats are being saved for humans, not robots.
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