Lucy the Slut recently brought puppet promiscuity to the Queen City in the tuneful “Avenue Q.” Now we're treated to a raucous musical starring her human counterparts in “Slut.”
Open Thursday, Aug. 7, at the Actor's Theatre of Charlotte, “Slut” tells the story of Adam, a handsome Manhattan barfly whose ongoing quest to sleep with every woman in the world is derailed when his best friend, Dan, a shy medical student, falls in love with Delia, an aspiring rock star.
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In an e-mail interview, composer Stephen Sislen said that the inspiration for “Slut” was “the transition from being young, single, and irresponsible to being a little less young, a little less single, and a little less irresponsible.” Co-creator Ben Winters had just moved to New York, where Sislen had been living for a year, and both were dating and going out a lot, so they decided to write a show about it.
Sislen swears the character of Adam isn't based on either himself or Winters, though, but rather a “a cartoon version of that carefree lifestyle that he calls ‘slutting.'” Adam makes a familiar emotional journey, Sislen said, to anyone who's been single – though no mere mortal could actually do what he does.
“Slut” was a sold-out hit at the New York International Fringe Festival in 2003 and has since had an off-Broadway production mounted in 2005. The show grew quite a bit in those two years, Sislen said, and the current production, directed by Charlotte native Kerry Ferguson, is very similar to the one that was seen off-Broadway.
Winters and Sislen have also collaborated on “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere,” a show for young audiences that tours the country for TheatreWorksUSA. Winters also co-wrote the book to the Neil Sedaka musical, “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do,” and recently penned the book for the children's musical “A (Tooth) Fairy Tale.”
Sislen has written a couple of small musical projects for the stage, one of which (“Restless Legs”) was featured at last year's New York Musical Theatre Festival. He's also written for the Disney Channel's “Johnny & The Sprites.”
Actor's Theatre's production marks the regional debut for “Slut,” and Winters has made a few changes, Sislen said, to make the show even tighter and funnier. Director Ferguson has seen the production in its various incarnations – from off-off-off Broadway to the Fringe Festival to its off-Broadway debut – and knew she wanted to try directing it.
Sislen and Winters are college friends of Ferguson (all attended Washington University in St. Louis), and when she was in graduate school they had asked her to direct the original work in New York, but other commitments kept her away. Now living in Spartanburg and teaching acting and directing at Wofford College, Ferguson was ready to work with Actor's Theatre.
Next up for co-creators Sislen and Winters is the debut of their musical about the Watergate break-in, “Room 16,” which was recently showcased at the 2008 ASCAP/Disney Musical Theatre Workshop in New York. The two were also recently awarded Dramatists Guild Fellowships, which are designed for emerging theater writers.
Sislen says “Slut” is high-energy, with 16 songs in under 2 1/2 hours. Charlotte audiences can expect “rock 'n' roll music, dirty jokes, and an all-around good time. If folks in Charlotte don't like to laugh, they definitely shouldn't come.”