(Photo courtesy John-Ryan…)
It's a tale as old as time: a small town girl tries to get famous in the big city.
Chicagoans John-Ryan Griggs and Chad Comer know the story well--not only because it's the plotline of their favorite rags-to-riches stripper film, "Showgirls," but also because they too are trying to strike it big in Chicago with the production of their very own "Showgirls the Musical."
"It started as a joke to make it into a musical, but we kind of just kept going with it," Griggs, a Ukrainian Village resident, said. "The next week at a bar, we went from a casual conversation to scribbling complicated sets on napkins."
Neither men have direct experience in producing theater--Griggs is an art director and Comer is an event planner--but both are diehard fans of the cult-classic film.
"Showgirls," which stars Elizabeth Berkley (post-Saved By The Bell) lap-dancing her way to Vegas fame, often pops into their daily conversation and references. But it's not because the movie is a creative stroke of genius; Griggs and Comer appreciate the camp value and cheesiness of the film, like Britney Spears in the movie "Crossroads."
"(Showgirls) has such a cult following, not just in the gay community, but for lovers of bad film everywhere," Griggs said. "People are either going to hate it or love it. We're just targeting the latter."
After the duo decided they were serious about producing a musical, they started brainstorming how to turn their vision into a reality. The first step was to research small theaters around Chicago that could host their act. After they narrowed it down to a few spots, Griggs and Comer made a budget for the cast, theater and costumes before they finally began writing the script.
But the biggest obstacle was figuring out how to fund the musical. They decided to launch a Kickstarter fund, which enables people to back the project through online donations. Griggs said this method seemed the most sensible because it raises both money and awareness for the play.
"I think it's exciting how technology has evolved," Griggs said. "Without the Internet, this project would have never made it."
In order to continue with the production process, the pair needs to raise $2,500 by the end of June, although it looks like they should have no problem achieving their goal; they've already raised nearly $1,500. As an added bonus to backers, there are rewards for different donation increments, such as posters, T-shirts and even tickets to the show, which will most likely run for two nights in October on a stage the pair will announce once they reach their goal.
Griggs said to expect a parody of Showgirls that is part drama and comedy, because the ultimate goal is to make the audience laugh. Although the play won't be a direct replica of the movie, it will still emulate the same cheese, glitz and glamour that made the original film such a sub-culture smash in the first place.
To find out more details about Showgirls the Musical, or to make a donation to the Kickstarter, go to showgirlsthemusical.com.
--Melanie Zanona is a RedEye special contributor