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How we got here... (an open letter)

keith.png
Hello family, friends, fans & search engine mistakes,

If you’re reading this, you’re probably at least partially aware of my little musical I GOT FIRED. I’m writing this to fill everybody in on the show’s journey after NYMF & DIMF and to let everybody know what I’m planning for the future.

I GOT FIRED was originally billed as a Semi-Autobiographical Sort-Of-True Revenge Musical, well, because that’s what it is. In May of 2008, I was fired from my job at T̶h̶e̶ ̶N̶Y̶U̶ ̶S̶c̶h̶o̶o̶l̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶M̶e̶d̶i̶c̶i̶n̶e̶ a prominent Manhattan-based medical school. I promptly set out to get revenge against the person who fired me in the only way I knew how: with musical theater. What started as a collection of mean songs about what I was feeling turned into a full-fledged musical about the wacky people I ran across and the wacky experiences I had at my “normal” office job. The strange family of misfits I was a part of in the office turned out to be more strange and fun than anything I could make up on my own. So I wrote them into the show (some names have been changed to protect the guilty).

With a great deal of support from many of my old co-workers (whom people may recognize from their portrayals in the show… Kathy, Maria, Mike) and the threat of a lawsuit from the person who eventually fired me (…let’s call her “Jenny”), I submitted the first draft of the show to the 2010 New York Musical Theatre Festival.

Well, I GOT FIRED was accepted as a Next Link Production at NYMF, and the rest is pretty well documented (because I screamed it in the face of anybody I ran across). We sold out, extended, got some great reviews and won the “2010 Theater For The American Musical Award,” as well as the 2011 DIMF Production award. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.

We were one of the hot shows coming out of the festival. The New York Post wrote that we were one of 3 shows that might be poised to be the next Altar Boyz. With the amazing (and unsolicited) support of the folks at SH-K-Boom records, I met with a couple of swanky B’way producers who expressed a great deal of interest in the show. I had the experience of nervously sitting in the office of one of the top 5 most powerful people on B’way, and having him come into the room singing “I Got Fired”. That was cool.

And then…

After being selected from NYMF, we took the show to Daegu, South Korea to do a production with the Daegu International Musical Festival (DIMF). We went from a 100-seat black box on the third floor of an office building in Manhattan, to the Daegu Opera House, a state-of-the-art 1600-seat beautiful monstrosity. When I first arrived at the theater with the cast, I was greeted by a billboard-sized picture of my own face hanging off the side of the theater, not to mention the flags of our logo (and again, my face) flapping in the breeze on every street corner. So I don’t need to tell you what a bizarre and amazing experience that was. We had an indescribably amazing time in Korea. We won “Best International Musical” and “Best Leading Actor” at the…um…nationally televised(!) awards show. I learned a lot about how good marketing can manufacture a fake “celebrity” status that is based on nothing more than good lighting and (I’m assuming) a really good discount at their printing shop. We arrived back in the states with some kick ass trophies, and memories to last a lifetime.

And then…

We were hot. We had generated some decent buzz out of NYMF and solidified it in Korea. I waited around on pins and needles for that mysterious “212” number to show up on my phone. The call from a producer making an offer to produce the show.

And then…

A week went by. A month went by.

And then…

A year went by. Two years went by. At this point I can hear everybody saying… “um… the writing is on the wall. Nobody is going to call.”

Yep.

I had moved onto other things, working on other shows and I fell into the trap of “waiting for the phone to ring.” Perhaps a regional theater would like to do the show?

Crickets.

Or a college?

Crickets.

Or a reading in my mother’s basement?

Crickets… but at least there were cookies.

I reached out to the fancy agent I had gotten when I was taking meetings with fancy producers.

Crickets.

And then…

Seemingly out of nowhere, a regional theater e-mailed me asking if I GOT FIRED was available. It sure as heck was. They had seen the show at NYMF and had enjoyed and remembered it. It took a few months but I GOT FIRED was going to have its World Premiere in the summer of 2014. Yes!

They announced their season and sent out 30,000 flyers advertising the show and beginning to sell tickets. I blasted Facebook with our exciting news.

And then…

I get an e-mail from them saying they had looked at their expenses and that they couldn’t afford to put the show up.

And then…

Well, since I’m writing this letter instead of performing the show tonight, it’s fairly obvious what happened. I GOT FIRED had been…fired. Was I pissed? Hell yeah I was. But I understand this is a business. But I was pretty embarrassed. But what can you do?

And then…

I was in the car with my wife thinking about what to do next and the craziest thought occurred to me. An insane, impractical, foolish and impossible idea…

I believe in the show. I believe it would be commercially and artistically successful if given a chance. It just needed that chance. All I need is a producer to raise the insane amount of money it would take to put up a commercial Off B’way production of I GOT FIRED. I just hadn’t found anybody crazy enough to take that risk.

So. The idea arrived. What if I do it myself? What if I’m the crazy one? If I were able to raise the money, why couldn’t I produce it? After 12 years trying to scrape together a career in this business, I’ve gotten to know a fair amount about how the theater world operates. I also know that I have A LOT to learn. Happily, I have a long list of brilliant people who can guide and teach me in exchange for money.

Now the only real obstacle is raising enough money to produce the show. Let’s see, it’s an 8-person musical aiming for a commercial house, factor in advertising, rent, insurance, general manager, etc… I’ll need something in the ballpark of 1.5 million dollars. So, I’m just short…hmm… carry the two…oh….1.5 million dollars. Not counting my credit card debt. No sweat.

So, I brought on my NYMF producer and good friend Liz Ulmer to help me take on this insane task. And with Liz’s resources, now we only need to raise…um… 1.5 million dollars. Not counting my credit card debt and not counting Liz’s credit card debt.

We decided to take this one step at a time. 1. Let’s make sure the show doesn’t suck. We’re in the process of doing a series of table reads and rewrites to shape up a completely new and exciting version of the show. Lots more on the actual show as we move forward.

In the meantime we’re working on setting up a 29 hour reading of the show at which we will try to blow the socks off the 3 rich people we know and assume they’ll each write a check for a half a million dollars. No sweat right?

But before we do our first reading, we need to raise some cash even to do that. It pays for the actors, the band, the stage manager, the theater & rehearsal space, etc. It’s a pretty small amount compared to 1.5 million, but it’s a very important first step.

So that’s where I’m at. I’m holding on to a show I believe in, holding on to big dreams, humbled by the challenges of getting them, staring up at the Everest that is getting a show up in NYC. Let me know if you have a rich uncle.

Thanks to anybody who actually read this far. I’m assuming it’s just you Mom. So “Hi Mom”.

Keith

And then…

HELP US OUT ON KICKSTARTER...

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I will tag each post with a list of everybody who, in a large or small way has done something that made I GOT FIRED a reality. In no particular order.

Kelly Karbacz Toni DiBuono Devon Goffman Michael Thomas Holmes Collin Leydon EJ Zimmerman

Robyn Corujo Shana Barone Jake Loewenthal Doug Oberhamer Czerton Lim Jessica Lustig Nick Solyom Alan Busch Theresa Flanagan Margaret Morton Joe Trentacosta Liz Ulmer Steve Wargo Greg Cicchino

Stephanie M Leaf

Kendra Kay​

Doug Varney

Chris Wolvington Varney

Scott Varney

Shaun Varney

Kathy Granger

Rachel Godfrey

Steve Bebout Dontee Kiehn Savannah Wise Eric Anderson Chris Haberl Ji-Youn Chang Grant Yaeger Michael Kale Denise Wilcox Jamie Rog Michael Cassara Casting Kim Shaw Julie McBride Kevin Crewell Scott Klein/Keith Sherman & Associates New York Musical Theater Festival (NYMF) Daegu International Musical Festival (DIMF) Michael Indeglio

Jillian Wojciechowski-Varney

Alyse Alan Louis

Gerritt Vandermeer

Derek Roland

Howie Michael Smith

Kate Wetherhead

Noan Cornman

Elizabeth Carroll

Lauren Yarger

James Wolvington

Brian Patrick Murphy

Katie Reigel

Kristina Hedrick

Michael Minarik

Nick Dalton

Alan Pagano

Susan J Jacks

Michael Poignand

Mike Cohen

Lilly Hung

Josh Lamon

Stuart McMeans

David Ingber

Tom Hallett

Brad Nacht

Andrew Sluchan

Paige Reinis

Jeff Croiter

Ken Wolvington

Brett Smock

Susan O’Brien

Isaac Robert Hurwitz

Chris Biesterfeldt

Jay Hershkowitz

Ron Gwiazda

Jack DePalma

Michael Harrington

Geoff Cohen

Syndi Zook

Nate Venet

Jay Alan Zimmerman

Evan Harrington

Sean Harkness

Ed Sayles

Rei Soto

Gregory Chudnick

Dave Anthony

Nikki Coleman

Simon Cleveland Kenneth Nicholas

Simona Kormanikova

Chelsea Leibow

Kiernan Norman,

Emily Faye Oakley

Katherine Sommer

Mark Eldelman

Carey Anderson

Lori Haley Fox

Christine LaDuca

Bill Hood

Janice Hood

Barbara Crook

Jim Wolvington

Roger Gillum

Grace Prussing

Cynthia Sonenstelie

The Lyric Theatre Company

The Moonshine Project

Theatrical Index

Paul Castratano

David London

Beth London

David G Stern

Thomas Ulmer

Barbara Ulmer

Kimberly Vaughn

Dean Williams

Barbara Russ

Jennifer America

Eugene Carr

Tiana Checchia

Lisa Conlon

Sarah Corey

Maria Duryea

Caitlin Faye

Emma Giffen

Daniel Giffen

Amy Giordano

Jordan Grubb

Lindsay Julow

Stephanie M. Leaf

Robert McMaster

Helen Meurer

Susan O’Brien

Angela Rice

Mark Robinson

Sara Shumway

Evan Stern

Scott Varney

Claudia Jean Wolvington

Steve Millhouse

Jarred Schonig

Charlie Fink

Jennifer Ritter

Yoonji Kim

David Ippolito

Cyndi K Schneider

Christine Riley

Martin Grant

Kurt Deutsch

Lynn Spector

Stephanie M. Leaf

Robert McMaster

Helen Meurer

Susan O’Brien

Angela Rice

Mark Robinson

Sara Shumway

Evan Stern

Scott Varney

Claudia Jean Wolvington

Steve Millhouse

Jarred Schonig

Charlie Fink

Jennifer Ritter

Yoonji Kim

David Ippolito

Cyndi K Schneider

Christine Riley

Martin Grant

Kurt Deutsch

Lynn Spector

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