Earlier this week FringeNYC announced the 2011 Overall Excellence Award Winners and we at THM couldn’t have been happier to celebrate with the winners and congratulate them on their success. One standout for me was The Bardy Bunch: The War of the Families Partridge and Brady which was definitely one of my favorites this year. I was lucky enough to get a moment with Stephen Garvey – writer of this fantastic show which takes one part Brady, one part Partidge, one part Shakespeare, and all parts groovy and mixes it together in a crazy plot worthy of Sherwood Schwartz on his best day. Read on to find out if Garvey is Team Brady or Team Partridge … see how creativity can spring in the most unlikeliest of places, and learn what the secret to a great mash-up really is …
Stephen Garvey!!! First of all, congratulations on winning the Ensemble Award! You’re in great company. It was clear from the first five minutes that your show was destined to win recognition, but did you see this award coming?
SG: Didn’t see it coming but so happy it came. We really lucked out with this cast. Director Jay Stern and I had to hold our auditions very late in the game, and we were nervous. Not only did we need to fill 18 roles, we needed actors who could sing, dance, be funny and manage to capture the spirit of the iconic characters they were playing. How we went 18 for 18 is nothing short of miraculous!
Mash ups are all the rage right now. There is a right way and a wrong way to do them — you obviously know the right way. What would you say your formula for success was when it came to putting together The Bardy Bunch?
I think it begins with knowing your material, and I did, thanks to NYU (Shakespeare) and a wasted childhood (The Brady Bunch and Partridge Family). With mash-ups, it’s easy to get laughs just by folding contrasting genres together, but I think the richer laughs come when you go deeper and find the surprising amount of similarities these opposing forms of storytelling share.
Okay – be honest. Of the two families, who had the kids you’d most want to hang out with and why? Brady or Partridge? And did that play a part in how you put this show’s script together?
I’ll admit it. I grew up Team Brady, but as far as hanging out with a family, I would lean Team Partridge. I loved Laurie and always wanted to ride on that awesome bus. The coolest thing about our show is that it actually felt like I was hanging out with both families while writing the script, which was a childhood fantasy come true…and yes, I realize how pitiful that sounds.
One of the great things about The Bardy Bunch is how perfectly it utilizes so many of the Shakespearean themes we all know so well. Was that an easy thing to do? Do you think that essentially all drama at this point is a bit derivative of The Bard?
It wasn’t that hard to write, because I was having so much fun with it, and as you said, the Bard offers so many plotlines to choose from. Honestly, the whole thing was a thought exercise at first. I was doing laundry one day and thinking about what a great couple Keith Partridge and Marcia Brady would make (as one does when doing laundry). It felt very Romeo and Juliet to me, and that began a game in my head of assigning different Shakespearean characters to different Bradys and Partridges. I sometimes wonder if there was something in the fabric softener I was using that day.
Speaking of Shakespeare … were there any other great plays you’d have wanted to work into the story line but found you couldn’t make fit?
The original draft of this script was about 2½ hours long and had a lot of King Lear and Twelfth Night elements. I needed to keep this thing lean and mean though. I’m saving the other great plays for my Love Boat/Fantasy Island mash-up.
Love Boat / Fantasy Island! Two more childhood obsessions! I’ll say it now: if you can bring that one to life with even a fraction of the creativity you brought to The Bardy Bunch I think you’ll have another runaway hit on your hands.
Now that you’ve won the Excellence Award, what’s next for Bardy Bunch?
We feel we have a great piece that we’re eager to share with audiences who grew up loving the Bradys, the Partridges and the Bard. We’re ready to “Keep On’ Movin’,” and are talking to venues right now!
That’s fantastic news! I would love to know that New Yorkers are getting another chance to see this show — Fringe goes by in a flash … Bardy should get a chance to stick around for a loooong time!
Bonus question – no holds barred. Feel free to tell me anything at all … More about The Bardy Bunch, tell me a joke, give me the lyrics of your favorite song, explain what your most passionate about, plug a project (or a friend’s project!) The Mic is yours!
I wish I had something really juicy for you. “No holds barred” almost mandates it. I just want to proclaim my love for the whole Fringe experience. The friendships that came out of this are legion. People bust on The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family for being corny and unrealistic, but our cast and crew embodied a very loving, nurturing spirit throughout, and none of us want to let go of it!
Steve, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us. Again, congratulations on your well deserved award – to you and the entire talented cast and production team. We’re waiting anxiously to see what happens next! Check back in with us again – we’d love to do a follow up!