Melissa Carubia Takes Us For A Ride On The MBTA MUSICAL

T: An MBTA Musical Starts 6/8/12 at Club Oberon in Cambridge, MA.

photo credit: Elizabeth Woodward (from last year's production.)

Interview by Becca Kidwell

(Last year’s review:

They’re ba-ack…Alice, John, and Michelle return to thwart the troublesome MBTA. On June 8th, T: An MBTA Musical, the surprising smash hit of last summer, makes stops at Club Oberon. Where do ideas for musicals come from? Melissa Carubia, the show’s composer, takes us on the underground journey.

Melissa explains that it started in her ImprovBoston sketch group MOSAIC “as a 7 minute sketch, complete with music, Charlie, and a lot of the characters that would become Alice, Michelle and John. It was a bit too long to be a sketch in our show, but a bit too timely to be forgotten. So, with the ensemble’s blessing, Mike (who was in the group at the time) and I set to work on expanding it into a larger show.”

Melissa and Mike (John Michael Manship) became friends while working at Urban Improv, a nonprofit organization that helps inner city children through theatre.

They continued their collaboration with Mike as “the official scriptwriter of the show and I wrote the music and lyrics, but we consulted together on a lot of things. For example, we worked out the general plot together. A flaw some musicals have is that the songs are just cut and pasted in. We really wanted the show to flow into the songs, and in order to do that, you have to give characters a reason to start singing rather than talking. We also came up with the characters together, using some of the original ideas from the sketch version of it. We’ve been working on keeping the script fluid to keep up with the evolving criticisms of the T. There will definitely be some references to the fare hikes and service cuts coming in July.” Their tight collaboration has produced a show equal to the quality of a Joss Whedon show and BETTER than The Book of Mormon by Trey Parker and Matt Stone (see my review—although I had not seen The Book of Mormon at the time the review had been written; T is MUCH BETTER!)

Their collaboration paid off by not only selling out their original shows last year but also selling out all of its performances from its extended run. Melissa explains that one of the most difficult parts of last year’s production was “adding new shows last minute as we watched show after show sell out completely. Thankfully, the cast had the flexibility, but it was still a bit of a scramble and we still had people waiting to get in after our final performance.”

As the production team walks down the decrepit, fire-prone rails of the country’s oldest subway, Carubia shares a few of the changes to the show as it shuttles into Club Oberon: “The overall plot is the same, but the execution is more epic. There are new jokes, new songs, and it has been made a little longer so that we could have an intermission. I think the biggest and most innovative change is that some of the audience will actually be on the “stage.” We are setting up the floor of OBERON to be a giant T station, so the action will take place in, around, and through the audience seating areas. There are standing room tickets as well, for those who prefer to grab a strap to hold on to (and a drink at the bar) rather than sit all night.”

While Club Oberon is a larger venue, expect pushing and shoving to get tickets before they sell out (and they will) again. We’ll keep you updated when ticket information is released (well…er…after I get my tickets…)

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