Jennifer Kelly is working on an opportunity few get to achieve in her field, to turn her original show “Beautiful” into an off-Broadway production in New York.
The former Lemon Bay High School theater director resigned her position in January 2011 amid accusations of professional ethics violations. She conceived the show during her tenure at the school.
Kelly describes “Beautiful” as a love story that follows the lead character, Beautiful, on her adventures in a fantasy realm and says the show is a marriage of the spectacle of Cirque du Soleil and the modern Broadway musical — using song and dance to advance the plot. The show has been affectionately dubbed a “Cirque-sical,” according to Kelly.
Kelly, who’s the director and producer along with her partner, aerial director Jason Whicker, who has worked with her since a LBHS production of the “Wizard of Oz,” got in contact with Whicker’s producer friend, Randall Wreghitt, who, in a previous Sun report, said he thought it was to be a mentoring role, but quickly saw huge potential for “Beautiful” after seeing a clip of the LBHS production.
Wreghitt produced “Miracle Worker” starring Abigail Breslin; “Impressionism” with Jeremy Irons and Joan Allen; and the Broadway musical “Grey Gardens,” which was nominated for 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, according to the Internet Broadway Database.
Wreghitt died in May 2011, putting a halt to the development of Kelly’s creation.
Kelly joined the Commercial Theater Institute in 2011, where she and Whicker participated in numerous workshops to learn more about the development process.
“It’s been us since then,” she said. “We’re learning as we go.”
Kelly and Whicker have also been working on a condensed version of their two-act, two-hour show which will be more suitable for smaller venues.
“We’ve been working on a short version down to 50 minutes,” Kelly said. “A popular cruise line is interested. We’re trying to figure it out what would be appropriate to each show. We’re always developing them both. We have about a dozen in our creative team. The show is very malleable at this point.”
The cast of “Beautiful” will have 20-24 people. The cast may be reduced for the shorter show.
“We want to emphasize quality over quantity,” Whicker said.
Whicker said one difficult aspect is coordinating the wire team and their actors. He developed a technique of training called “flying barre,” based on his years of study in ballet and experience as a dancer.
“Come May 20, rehearsals will start,” he said. “First two weeks in, they’ll practice and train using flying barre. They’ll develop technique and I will choreograph the show.”
Despite Wreghitt’s death, the show garnered interest from those prominent in the entertainment industry to help choreograph the show.
“We’re gaining attention from the theater world,” Whicker said. “It’s remarkable we’re getting the services of Dreya Weber, who was a choreographer for Pink at the Grammy Awards a few years ago. We’re also getting a choreographer from ‘So You Think You Can Dance.’”
The company is trying to raise $25,000 to help offer scholarships to up-and-coming dancers and aerialists as well as offset production fees such as travel, costumes and scenic construction, light and sound design, music composition and marketing, creative team and instructional fees and create a behind-the-scenes video of “Beautiful,” according to Kelly, who says they’ve raised $6,000 so far.
For more information, go to http://www.beautifulflyingshow.com.
For donations, go to youtube/Bog70D6XJRY and http://www.gofundme.com/Beautiful.