Inside JCPRD: TWO FELLAS… ONE ROLE! “Descendants” gets a two-for-one

Isle of the Lost - Descendants - Theatre in the Park

By Theatre in the Park Producing Artistic Director Tim Bair

If you’ve had children in your life in the last ten or so years (or you’re just a full-fledged Disney fan by default), then you will have heard of Disney’s “Descendants.” For those of you that find yourself immune to pixie dust, well… here’s the scoop.

Four Disney villains are sequestered to the Isle of the Lost along with their kids. Cruella, Maleficent, Jafar, Grimhilde… you’ve probably heard of them and know that they have wreaked havoc on the universe since… well… forever. Poison apples, killing puppies… you know the gig. Apparently, living on the isle is the punishment for all their dastardly deeds. They don’t get to do magic there either. Tough life.

The flip side of THAT sad story though – is Auradon. The lovely, sparkly, glimmering land where all the Disney heroes and their kids get to live! You know them… Belle and King Adam (aka – the Beast), Snow White, etc.

ALL the do-goods.

Back on the isle, a dastardly plan is set into motion when good Prince Ben (tall, handsome… a nice mix of Belle and her Beast) invites the children of the isle to come to school in Auradon. He has some crazy notion that just because their parents are despicable, it doesn’t mean that THEY are! He thinks they can all let bygones be bygones. Naivete is a lovely thing, isn’t it?

Ok, that’s all I’m gonna tell you about the story. I’m terrible at letting things slip and I know you’ll want to see how it all comes out in the end. (This is a shameless plug for you to buy tickets: theatreinthepark.org)

Beyond the delightful scenery, the UBER talented cast, the terrific light show, and the truly delicious costumes, props, hair, makeup… well… beyond all THAT – I’ve got a VERY cool behind-the-scenes story to tell you. It involves TWO fellas and ONE role!

Fella #1: Maddox Bane (7th Theatre in the Park show!)

Fella #2: Dylan Markey (Theatre in the Park debut!)

Dylan Markey (left) and Maddox Bane (right) are taking turns sharing a role in TIP’s production of Disney’s “Descendants” after Maddox won a prestigious theater award.

So, the story goes…

This past school year, Maddox was cast in the Park Hill High School production of “The Addams Family” as Gomez. THE LEAD! For which he ended up being nominated for a Starlight Blue Star Award for best actor! In fact, the show was nominated for Best Overall Production as well…nice job! Fast forward to the Blue Star Awards, and guess what. Yep! Maddox won BEST ACTOR (ROCK STAR!!!) And guess what winners of the Best Actor award get to do… take a trip to NEW YORK CITY as candidates for the National High School Theatre Awards, most commonly known as the Jimmy Awards. It’s very cool, and extremely exciting! I asked Maddox to tell me about the week that they spend in the city. “The Jimmy’s are an intense weeklong training and rehearsal process. Ninety-two high school students will get to perform and compete on the Minskoff Stage (Home of The Lion King – Broadway!) for 20 scholarships and the top two will win best performance by an actor or actress. Many past Jimmy Award winners and participants have gone on to land roles on Broadway, and the exposure and connections you make there are truly life changing, I cannot wait!” he said.

Here’s the plot twist…

Maddox was cast as a member of the ensemble in our production of Disney’s “Descendants” (hence the synopsis above). And it just so happens that the Big Apple excursion happens during the second week of the run of our production.

Yikes!

What to do?

Well, you start with a visit with the staff… “Maddox informed us almost immediately that he would not be able to perform in the second weekend of shows,” said LB, the show’s director. “He handled this so gracefully and professionally with understanding of the production team’s tricky position, but also passion to continue his work on this show and potentially be allowed to perform the first week of shows. Due to this enthusiasm we decided to move forward with a potential second weekend replacement.”

But who, you may ask, would do the stuff in the show for the SECOND weekend that Maddox did the FIRST?

Enter… the show’s Music Director James Levy. “James was able to identify Dylan Markey as a potential option due to his recent audition for KC A Capella (James is the Director)!” LB said, “so, we knew Dylan could sing Maddox’s track. We invited him to join the cast with the understanding that we would teach him the dances and coach him the best we could, but that he might end up singing in the wings while one of our co-choreographers would dance Maddox’s track. Dylan agreed instantly to come join the cast, and came to a rehearsal later that night, with less than two hours’ warning!”

I asked Dylan how it was going, and what it felt like to step into a role at the last minute. “I feel like I have the freedom to create my own character’s personality and interaction with other characters on the stage,” he said. “Maddox and I had known each other previously from other shows, but this was the first time we had worked together, and it has been great working with him!”

To be clear, Dylan stepped up and started learning stuff that the rest of the cast already knew!

“The rehearsals each day were mostly one-on-ones with the assistant dance instructors. I was having to catch up on all the dances and blocking that the rest of the cast had already learned,” Markey said. “This is my first-ever Theatre in the Park show, and it has been an amazing experience! It was an honor being given this opportunity.”

When I asked LB how it was going from a staff standpoint, she filled in a little behind the scenes details for me. “During tech week, Dylan and Maddox have been alternating rehearsals when they get to go on. Dylan had his first full run on Tuesday night and did great! Dylan and Maddox have both also stepped up to help the stage management team when they’re not performing, since they have some extra time on their hands,” she said. “Overall, what could have been a very stressful situation turned into one of my favorite additions of the show! It has been a privilege to work with these two actors.”

In the end, we get to showcase two fellas, both talented, both hardworking, and… both nice guys!

It’s true community theater. A community of people working hard, helping each other out, and sharing their talent with everyone ON stage AND off. As one of the songs in the shows says, “we’re better together!” (I told you I was bad at letting things slip!)

Disney’s Descendants finishes up its run in our OUTDOOR season at Theatre in the Park June 22-25. You can buy tickets and read all about the show at theatreinthepark.org. I sure hope you’ll join us. We’ll be glad to see you!