My Favorite Toy Was Dirt: An American Story in Concert.

For the next few months, this blog will report on the progress, problems and prospects of the new Musical McManus Comedy, “My Favorite Toy Was Dirt: An American Story in Concert.”
We will also keep fans up to date on our new Facebook Page, “My Favorite Toy Was Dirt.”
Yes, you, dear reader, will have a bird’s eye view of either:
a) A great new and successful enterprise, that will make audiences roar with almost unstoppable laughter, or, possibly
b) One of the biggest misadventures in the annals of musical and comedic creation.
I can remember how it all began. Pat was my advisor at Eastern…the University, not the hospital or the corrections center….although they all have a lot in common. I had enrolled in to get an MFA in creative writing. Pat was a professor there at the time, and he mentored me, much like Rancid did to him, although Rancid was a lot less cruel.
After two years of hard work, Pat took me aside just before I got my degree, put his hand on my shoulders, and looked me in the eyes with what I misinterpreted as incredible sensitivity. “Tim, after reading your stuff for two years, I think you better stick to acting.”
“And now, since you will be getting a graduate degree in English, which practically guarantees you will be unemployed, I should probably write something for you to perform right away.”
Scarcely five years later, Pat said he wanted to do a theatre piece. I asked him what kind. He described a “comical musical” with singers and dancing girls, lots of dancing girls, glitzy scenery, a cast of 35 and some dancing girls. Then he showed me the budget for this extravaganza, and that’s when I knew we had a one-man show.
But now, thanks to some wonderfully generous Kickstarter contributors and thanks to the Spokane Arts Commission, we have a small nest egg that should get us started. Olivia Brownlee (at is the composer and she will be creating original music for this show (and conducting the first few performances) that will be a testament to Pat’s humor, imagination and his ability to make people laugh so hard that when I perform, the laughter hurts my ears.
So, let’s get into the nitty gritty. How to describe the piece? Think Mark Twain meets Spike Jones. Or Frank Zappa confronts the Marx Brothers. Or Peter and the Wolf on steroids where nobody dies in the end, not even the wolf.
It is scored for 7 Musicians Versus 1 indentured Actor. The musicians actively perform in the piece, interjecting, interrupting, and contributing to the hilarity and mayhem on stage.
Olivia and I have known each other for years, but this is the first time I have had the opportunity to work closely with her and I have to say, I’m a bit terrified. She brings a baton to our meetings, and often when I am talking, she sharpens the baton with bits of sandpaper she pulls out of her pocket. Why would a conductor need a sharp baton?
She also gently reminds me that the McManus performances I have done are of one-man shows where I have had complete control and didn’t have to work with others. She states, quite simply, “THAT WILL NOT BE THE CASE HERE.” She often talks in capitals to me. I have not yet found a response to capitals, but silence is working right now.
Which is what I’ll be until the next round…..which we’ll publish in mid-August.

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