When we started the process for Hot Dog Daze, we knew we wanted to create a cabaret style production, but we did not have a theme or a title. One day, we provided the Interact artists with this prompt: “What is your super-power?” We weren’t focusing on the power to fly or walk through walls – rather, what is something that only you can do? When the artists started to present their work, they presented in style reminiscent of old time television programs. This sparked an investigation of the golden age of television and the cultural impact of the 1950s on today’s society. When creating new work, ideas and themes often change; however, the theme of television stayed strong and the influence of the 1950s transformed into the idea of nostalgia and looking back to the “good old days.” Thus, Hot Dog Daze was created: a collection of quirky scenes, songs, and side-acts, all set in the style of a telethon, – think Jerry Lewis – which hold a mirror to society and its unavoidable foibles. One cannot deny that Jerry Lewis made his mark on the disability community. Every Labor Day weekend from 1966 to 2010, he and celebrity friends would be on television for almost 24 hours, raising money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. During the telethon’s run, Lewis raised $2.5 billions dollars; many saw him as a disability hero, helping raise funds to cure MDA. To others he was self-serving, entitled and insensitive. His treatment and language used to describe individuals living with MDA, “God’s goofs” or “cripples imprisoned in steel” (wheelchairs), sparked a backlash with critics calling themselves Jerry’s Orphans – a play on Jerry’s Children. Lewis would coach children with MDA to perform for the camera, helping to create pity that would bring in the cash. Lewis knew that pity would speak to people’s hearts, and he used as much as he could to pull on every string.
Not only did we get to enjoy the quirks of the 40+ member ensemble through this process, but we also had the chance to experience the talents of Shanan Custer and Kory LaQuess Pullam; both have graced the Twin Cities stages for years. This production is the first time that Kory has worked with Interact and he was able to jump right in and create his zany character. This is Shanan’s second production with Interact, and the artists have been blessed with being able to work with an old friend.
With every creative process, there are highs and lows, moments of fall on your face failure and success. This process is no different; however, it is through the failures that all of the gems are found. We want to thank the staff of Interact for their support and trust, guest artists for the dedication, and the Interact artists for their constant creative imaginations.
Hot Dog Daze was an excellent opportunity for Interact to dust off some old songs that never saw the light of day. Some written as many as eight years ago, these songs were almost “lost in Boston” until now. Three of the songs: “Hot Dog Day”, “I Belong in a Dress” and “Stage Fright” are all signature songs performed for you for the first time in their full glory. Signature songs are songs that are created to celebrate the unique experience of an individual Interact Artist. The artists work with the composer to find themes, lyrics, melodies, rhythms and even inspiration for accompaniment. For instance, back when we wrote “Hot Dog Day”, Suzy suggested it sound like Sara Bareilles’ “Love Song,” and when we wrote “Stage Fright” Jeffrey wanted it to be a mix of Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein. For Sam’s “I Belong in a Dress” we took inspiration from the songs of female impersonators from the Great British Music Hall era.
Broadway World Review
“Fifty’s Nostalgia Sparks Satire in Interact’s Hot Dog Daze”