Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Spotlight On...Julie Soto, Will Finan, and Ryan Warren

Name: Julie Soto (book, lyrics and story); Will Finan (composer); Ryan Warren (director and story)

Hometown: Sacramento, CA - all 3

Favorite Credits: First time writers!
JS: As an actor, Gertrude in Seussical and Rona in Spelling Bee
RW: Directing Spring Awakening and Spelling Bee
WF: As an actor, Cinderella's Prince in Into the Woods

Why theater?:
JS: We've been asked several times if we would consider reformatting Generation Me for TV/Film, and I think it would be such an interesting medium to try, but there is something about telling this story about a community coping, to a theatre community, that is so much more intimate than other mediums.
WF: Live theater is visceral. It's a two-way street where actors and audiences can both take part in the artistic experience. It's unique every night, with unexpected gasping, crying, and laughter driving the performance.
RW: I just feel like the theatre community is a little more open and progressive in terms of taking something in and not giving it the immediate reaction of a yes or a no. You can't click to the next channel. You can't turn it off. You are there in the moment experiencing it.

Tell us about Generation Me: Generation Me is a new teen musical focusing on this current generation of teenagers, and a high school dealing with the fallout of the popular boy taking his own life. In the wake of his death, Milo Reynold's family and friends question everything they though they knew about him. Generation Me explores the heartbreak, confusion, and survivor's guilt of those left behind. Told in flashbacks that open Milo's story like a mystery, Generation Me identifies  a generation more privileged, self-interested, oblivious... and lonelier than ever.

What inspired you to write/direct Generation Me?:
JS: Ryan and I run a youth theatre company in Sacramento, and when we were trying to figure out what to do with our teenagers next, we were stuck with shows that didn't fit them or their experiences. We had already done 13 the Musical the year before and they were ready for a challenge. We had not directly experienced the death of a teenager in our lives, but I wanted to try to capture the life-or-death perspective of the teenage existence, and I thought dealing with the isolation of losing someone close to you would be a jumping off point for the piece.
RW: I think what excites me about Generation Me is trying something new. I think it's so easy to get stuck in routine. Doing an original show was something new for everyone involved and it was a challenge.
WF: There's something special about being a teenager - first loves and heartbreaks, innocence lost, identities solidified (or broken and remade). It's an age we look back on fondly, but it's also fragile, tenuous, and fleeting. It's great inspiration for a range of musical elements and emotions.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?:
JS: Shows like Spring Awakening and Next to Normal inspire me because they blur the line between what is a traditional musical theatre piece and what is more suited to a straight play format. RENT was just becoming big when I was getting into theatre, and I think it really shaped me as a performer and now as a writer.
RW: Concept is what speaks to me. When I watch a piece I am analyzing the directing and the vision. I appreciate something that is trying to communicate with the audience and leaves them with something to take away. Some of my favorite directors are Michael Greif and Joe Mantello.
WF: Paul Rudd.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?:
RW: I would love to work with an actress like Megan Hilty one day, or work on a creative team with Jerry Mitchell.
JS: Joss Whedon, on any type of project. I would clean his carpets.
WF: Paul Rudd.

What show have you recommended to your friends?:
JS: Waitress and Come From Away are currently my favorite musicals on Broadway. We just saw Play That Goes Wrong and that was spectacular.
RW: Waitress and Come From Away
WF: Yes, I'm still quoting Play That Goes Wrong days later. "Good god! I needed that."

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?:
JS: Melissa McCarthy. "Never Date A Man From Bakersfield."
WF: Paul Rudd, and it would be called "Everyone Shut Up. I'm Talking."
RW: Matthew Morrison. "Do It, Don't Talk About It."

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?:
WF: Opening night of Les Miserables on the West End
RW: The most recent revival of Noises Off
JS: Opening night of Ragtime.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: 
JS: Netflix binging.
WF: *NSYNC Christmas album, circa 1998
RW: Wicked.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: 
JS: Working for the State of CA, as that's currently my day job. But probably writing in a different art form.
WF: Owning and operating a bar/music venue.
RW: a professional wrestler.

What’s up next?: We are completely open! We are hoping that we get the right eyes on the show that can help us move it to the next level.

For more on Generation Me, visit and