In 2017, Staples Players produced “Newsies.” It was a pilot for Disney. The mammoth entertainment company wanted to see what a high school production of that long-running Broadway show would look like.
They liked what they saw. (As did night after night of sold-out audiences, of course.)
Disney executives were so pleased, in fact, that they approached Players directors David Roth and Kerry Long with another idea:
How about piloting 2 new plays? Both are part of a new collaborative series between Disney and Marvel Comics. Written by established playwrights, they use Marvel characters as teenagers dealing with typical teen problems.
Which is how this weekend, the Staples High School Black Box theater is the site of world premieres of 2 very exciting shows.
“Peter Parker and the Kid Who Flew” is about teenage suicide. “Hammered” — by Tony Award-winning actor Christian Borle — focuses on sibling rivalry and competition.
The plays are a stretch for Roth and Kerry — and their young actors.
The timing did not fit in with Players’ traditional schedule. So Roth is using the pilot as a project for his Theater 3 (advanced acting) class.
Disney and Marvel representatives — and possibly a playwright or two — will be on hand. They want to see what works well (and what doesn’t).
“We usually do plays that have been produced many times,” Roth notes. “It’s interesting — for me, Kerry and the kids — to get them while they’re still going through the process of being written.”
After beginning the project, Roth received a completely revised version of the “Peter Parker” script. A number of changes had been made, on the advice of experts on teen suicide.
The 2 pilots are full productions, complete with lighting, sound and costumes. They’ll be presented this Friday (January 11, 7:30 p.m.) and Saturday (January 12, 3 and 7:30 p.m.). Click here for tickets, and more information.
(NOTE: No children under 10 will be admitted. Parental guidance is suggested; material is appropriate for middle school audiences and above.)