by Sean Cote
SUN PRESS Intern
Phil Darg, Maple Grove writer, composer and playwright, is bringing his creation, “Sasquatched! The Musical,” to the New York Musical Theatre Festival, having won entry into the Next Link Project.
“Sasquatched!” was authored in 2012 and tells the story of Arthur, a well-mannered sasquatch that can talk, and his interactions with a boy named Sam and other humans. The two-act play’s style is comedic, with 14 songs and a gauntlet of instrumentals, running about 100 minutes. It was submitted to the NYMF in September 2012, and among hundreds of entries. The 22 finalists were whittled down to 10 winning plays, including Darg’s.
The somewhat satirical piece lightly covers themes of parenting, the media, environmentalism, and multiculturalism.
“It was a great honor to be chosen,” Darg said, reflecting on his own feelings about winning. “The show was selected blindly by a panel of nine Tony Award winners on the basis of the script and the music recordings alone. They must have heard something in it they liked!”
Darg is an online faculty member of St. Cloud Technical, Pine Technical and Lake Superior College, teaching primarily history, political science and speech communication. He has written more than a dozen plays, his latest being “Sasquatched!,” and his music has been broadcasted on major television networks like MTV and The History Channel.
Concerning “Sasquatched!,” he said that “as far as affecting my career, this is really a chance to showcase this piece and what I can do as a writer/composer. It’s uncertain what will happen next — but there seems to be a lot of buzz in the air. Hopefully, the show will go on to larger audiences in the future. I would also like to produce a run of the show in Minnesota.”
Inspiration for the piece came from several sources, according to Darg. With his background in comedic scripts and songs and a desire to create an interesting and quirky ensemble show, a musical theatre piece sounded natural.
“The sasquatch character in the show is also something quite unexpected, an intelligent and dignified creature that not only talks, but also seems to be more rational and vulnerable than the rather irrational humans that he encounters,” he said.
He added that in addition to the twist on the sasquatch’s character, he wanted to comment on current social trends within the play, focusing on media sensationalism, over-protective parenting, the fear of the unknown, environmentalism and multiculturalism.
When asked whether he thought that Minnesota has an abundance of talent, vision and creativity that New York and Hollywood are unaware of, Darg firmly answered yes.
“There’s a tremendous amount of creativity in Minnesota — and it’s where ‘Sasquatched! The Musical’ came from,” he said. “Our national media is driven by decisions made in New York and LA that reflect choices from those communities and sometimes people perceive that creativity or talent only resides on those coasts. That’s just not the case. When an unknown piece by an unknown writer from Minnesota is selected by established members of the New York musical theatre community, it is proof that talent does indeed exist in the hinterlands.”
Rehearsals for the play began in June with performances running July 9 to 14 at the PTC Performance Space in New York City.