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Know Theatre Goes Out of the Box with “Andy’s House of [Blank]”

Sneak Peak by Erica Minton of Andy’s House of [Blank]: Sneak Peak

KnowAndysHouseImageAn Interview with Co-Creator Paul Strickland

Without spoiling the story, how would you describe Andy’s House of [Blank]?

There’s a fellow with an oddities house. People bring him stuff, and he goes and finds stuff that is super weird, like Tom Thumb’s favorite chair… that just happens to be average size, because Tom Thumb likes to sit in average size chairs. He’s got six skulls of Houdini. Different sizes, different ages. Right? That’s the kind of stuff that’s going on in his oddities house. Very quick synopsis: a lady comes in with a box, he doesn’t know what it does. He flips the box on, she goes and dies in a—this all happens in the first seven minutes—she goes and dies in a fire, and then he’s real sad about it. The next day at 3pm when he flips the box on, she walks back in the door. And then the musical is about him trying to figure out what that is. Is it going to happen again? If it happens again, what’s he going to do?
Andy’s House of [Blank] was initially developed during the Know Theatre’s recent Serials production, where 15-minute increments of plays were performed weekly and voted forward by the audience. What was that process like?

The Know’s new motto is that it’s “Cincinnati’s theatrical playground,” and the Serials program that they established gave Trey Tatum and I an opportunity to get together and have a bunch of drinks and write a play…that ended up being of quality. Andrew saw the process that was going on at Serials—traditionally, a theatre company won’t take a risk on something that’s of that level. It’s a full-scale musical, it’s an hour and 45 minutes plus an intermission—it’s virtually untested outside of the Serials audience—but Andrew wanted to take a chance on my and Trey’s script. […] The way that Serials was treated as an opportunity to workshop a thing that then became part of the Know’s theater season—really opens up and gives the artists in Cincinnati a sense of hope that someone cares that they’re doing work.
If someone saw the last round of Know’s Serials, how different will this story be?

It will be as if they saw the middle 4 episodes of Twin Peaks. The framing device is entirely different, there are five completely new pieces of music, and there’s also more reprises. The original show ran an hour and ten minutes, this runs and hour and 45, plus the intermission. Sadie is more of a real character. We ran into a problem during the Serials process—you only have 15 minutes to get through a lot of material, so what ended up getting sacrificed was character development. So the character of Paul had really no backstory, there was no explanation as to why he cared about any of the things he’s singing about. Well now that exists. The character of Paul has a real backstory, the character of Sadie has a real backstory. We get to know Andy in relief to those two, as well as all of Andy’s story… on the whole it’s just a filled-out story. So you saw the Cliff’s Notes at Serials. You’ll see the entire production.

Is there anything else that theatre-goers should know about Andy’s House of [Blank]?

I’ve only been in Cincinnati for a year and some change, so I haven’t seen many musicals… but I don’t think this is a thing you’re going to see all the time. I think what we’re doing with this piece, both musically and in terms of it being a high-fuel comedy—I mean it’s a very funny thing, that also has a fairly tragic storyline—I just think it’s a piece that I certainly have never seen before.