BY CARY GINELL
On Friday, February 27, local performer Quentin Garzon (who we last saw in Conejo Players’ production of Shrek) is producing a revue of songs from Disney productions titled “Following the Mouse.” The program includes performances by many familiar faces to Ventura County audiences, as well as some talented artists from the Los Angeles theater and music scene. Garzon wanted a dynamic presentation, and invited Andrew “Wild Man” Metzger and Sarah Watkins to host the proceedings. As anyone who has seen him will attest, Andrew Metzger has rocket fuel instead of blood coursing through his veins. He doesn’t just bubble with energy, he explodes with it. It will be Sarah Watkins’ job to keep his harness on, while adding her own infectious charm and enthusiasm to the proceedings.
I sat down with the three of them for a round-robin discussion of the show, and as you might guess, it was a comedic free-for-all. We’re excerpting our talk over the next weeks, but we began by asking Quentin:
VCOS: What is the show all about?
QUENTIN: This is a concert that consists of songs from various Disney films and theatrical versions of the songs.
SARAH: We are using some songs that are not from the movies, but are from stage productions of these shows; one in particular was a show before it was a movie, Into the Woods.
QUENTIN: Then we’re using “Hellfire,” which is from the German production of Hunchback of Notre Dame. I liked the arrangement of that number. I felt it had a lot more oomph and darkness to it.
SARAH: I guess that’s true for a lot of the group numbers. The arrangements are from the stage productions.
ANDREW: So for all the ensemble group numbers, we’re using the Broadway version…
QUENTIN:…even though they originated in the movies.
VCOS: Is this going to be historical Disney or contemporary Disney?
ANDREW: We’re calling it “From Snow White to the Snow Queen.” The greatest hits of Disney.
VCOS: You have to make it historical, because how can you do a Disney tribute without “When You Wish Upon a Star” from Pinocchio?
QUENTIN: Exactly. I have four songs right in the beginning that are what I call “the soprano numbers,” which were very classic, old school: “Someday My Prince Will Come,” When You Wish Upon a Star,” “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes,” and “Once Upon a Dream.”
ANDREW: We tried to see how many times we could use the word “dream” or “wish” in five minutes.
VCOS: Whose arrangements are these?
QUENTIN: The arrangements are from the films. For the sake of time and since those songs get very repetitive, you know, verse-chorus-verse-chorus, everyone knows what they are after they hear it. So with those songs, I raised some their keys so that all would be in the same key. “When You Wish Upon the Star” is the only one where I used the bridge, so that one is verse-bridge-verse.
VCOS: Is this the first time you’ve done something like this?
QUENTIN: No. When I was in New York, I produced three stage productions. I did Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins, which was my first foray into producing and directing.
VCOS: A very un-Disney-like show. (all laugh)
ANDREW: They’ll adapt it. I can see it now: “Disney presents Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins.” That would be beautiful!
VCOS: With Bambi as John Wilkes Booth. (laughter)
ANDREW: And Johnny Depp as everyone else. Sorry, Quentin, back to your career.
QUENTIN: This is why I hired Andrew. He can’t be quiet. After Assassins I did Songs for a New World and then the next thing I did was Into the Woods at the Brooklyn Music School. Then I did Songs for a New World again at an off-Broadway stage, the Grand Theatre at the Producers Club at 47th Street and 8th Avenue. I was able to sell out Assassins and Songs for a New World.
VCOS: So do you have a goal in mind for after you do “Following the Mouse”?
QUENTIN: I’m doing it because I want to get back into that mindset of being on the other side of things. I love the stresses that come with the creative process of a show and I like creating things. I get that a lot from my father. My parents are producing an original musical on the East Coast right now, so it’s very much in my blood.
VCOS: What prompted you to use Disney songs as a theme?
QUENTIN: It was something that everyone would love to come to. I felt that, in dealing with the content that our music is, I figured it was a nice introduction for me to get back into it. I would like to put up a production of Into the Woods, but I feel like I would like to get my feet wet first. As most new producers do, or in my case, getting back into it, this has been a learning-and-passion project. It’s going to help me re-learn things that I did in the past and also to learn more.
VCOS: And how did you select Andrew and Sarah to host?
QUENTIN: Andrew wouldn’t stop bugging me so I finally gave in, and I wanted him to have a co-host…
ANDREW: He didn’t want to give me too much attention.
SARAH: ‘Cause he didn’t want your ego to get too big.
QUENTIN: You have to be very careful with Andrew’s ego.
VCOS: You need somebody on stage to stop him.
ANDREW: We’re giving her a giant net through most of our bits.
SARAH: I thought we talked about a bat.
ANDREW: That’s behind-the-scenes stuff.
VCOS: Have you two worked out anything for your introductions or are you just winging it?
SARAH: We’re working on a few things, especially since the show is done chronologically and covering such a broad history.
ANDREW: We have these little things that we call “Diz-bits.” A little Dizney trivia, delivered in a joking way. We also thought of different ways to connect the songs.
SARAH: Yeah, instead of just coming on and saying “and now this…”
ANDREW: This is a show for people who love Disney; we love Disney, everybody in the show loves Disney. I don’t think there’s anybody in the cast who’s never seen a Disney movie. We’re going to assume that people will understand the humor that we’re doing. For instance, we have a couple of “Let It Go”/Frozen jokes.
SARAH: You can’t do anything Disney nowadays without having Frozen puns.
ANDREW: And we end the show with “Let It Go” before the final Into the Woods number. It’s like Let It Go: The Concert, Featuring A Whole Bunch of Other Songs.
(to be continued)
Following the Mouse plays Friday evening, February 27 at the Scherr Forum in the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza. For ticket information, click on the ad on the right column of the VC On Stage home page.