By John Thomason
By Benjy Caplan
By Artburst Miami
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Daniel Reskin
An ultra-camp musical set in Nashville, Lucky Guy follows the rise and travails of Billy Ray Jackson, who, according to Beckham's notes, is an "all-American singing cowboy -- just the type to fall for a good girl in a pretty pink sweater." With characters such as Miss Jeannie Jeannine, "the queen of country music," Big Al Wright, who sells "used cars of the stars," and Chicky Lay, who works at the Wigateria, a "drive-through wig salon for the lady on the run," Beckham's script promises to parody musical comedy while at the same time bringing country-western and popular music into this form of theater. "The introduction of contemporary music is one of the main things that appealed to me," says Zipper.
Beckham is himself a show. At the meeting I attended, he acted out and sang all the parts of his script for the creative team. I would have paid admission for his enthusiastic and genuinely comedic performance alone; he was equally witty when he explained how a scene would unfold with "lots of fabulous fiddle music," or how the characters emerged from the setup for a song "in a high emotional snit."
The show first came to Skyline's attention when Stadlen saw an early workshop production last summer at the North Carolina New Play Festival, held in Flat Rock. "He called me and said it was kismet, that we had to do this show," Zipper recalls. Now Skyline intends not just to develop the piece side-by-side with the author, but to promote it through events all over Dade County, such as a recent bash held at Williams Island, where the Skyline company and Beckham performed highlights from the show.
"By the time it opens," Zipper promises, "the name Lucky Guy will be known by every person in Dade County who's interested in theater. It's not hard to do, providing you dedicate yourself to the project and plan ahead."
Whether the show eventually proves to be a hit or a bomb, one thing will differentiate Lucky Guy from most original works unveiled in this area: The workshop process will be done the right way, the way professionals have crafted shows since the time of Sophocles. In fact, the Miami Skyline Theatre Company might herald not only the birth of the city's first resident company but also the most canny producing team to be seen around these parts in years.