Join ‘Lube: A Modern Love Story!’ reading at The Center
By Stacey Blanchet
Novelist Jack Turner is setting out on a mission to bring his musical “Lube: A Modern Love Story” to the bright lights of Broadway.
“Lube” is a gay-themed play, written by a gay man, with music composed by a gay composer, intended for gay and gay-supportive audiences. It is a musical comedy that takes a serious look at growing up gay, including the decision whether to stay in or come out of the closet, bullying, prejudice and the lack of role models, religious persecution and teenage suicide. It also deals with friendship, changing attitudes, and acceptance — especially what can sometimes be the hardest of all: self-acceptance.
Turner is on a mission to bring positive role models to gay youth and tell them that you can live happily ever after and he’s hoping San Diego can help with this journey. There will be a public reading of “Lube” at The San Diego LGBT Community Center on Oct. 1. Following is an interview with Jack Turner.
Q: You are a sci-fi novelist. Why did you switch to musical theater and how hard is it to write a play?
It’s not fair to call me a sci-fi novelist. I wrote two musicals before I ever published my first book! Still, I have five books published while neither of my musicals has been produced.
I approach the task of writing a musical by starting with the music. Of course I have some general idea of the plot and I like to figure out where I need to express the emotions that a song evokes. I write the name of the songs first and then flesh out the lyrics. Next, I write the book around the lyrics and then fill in with additional songs. I always write more music than needed, since it’s easier to cut a song than it is to write one. The level of difficulty is based on how well one writes. I think I write pretty well, so I haven’t found it exorbitantly challenging.
Q: Why do you believe “Lube: A Modern Love Story” should be on Broadway?
While it’s impossible for me to be impartial, first and foremost I think “Lube: A Modern Love Story” is a really great show. It has sympathetic characters placed in interesting situations. The lyrics are witty and the music is fabulous.
Further, “Lube” has a message: “Just love yourself; the rest will fall in place.”
This musical is one more, albeit important, voice in a chorus — or perhaps a cacophony — of voices expressing their support for gay youth. Suicide rates for teens in general are high, but for LGBT youth, those figures shoot up dramatically.
But “Lube” doesn’t just tell gay youth that “it gets better.” It tries to send a message to every person out there that life is difficult enough for an isolated teen, whether he or she be straight, gay, bisexual, or questioning, without adding to their misery. Treat everyone the way you would like to be treated. It might make some individual feel better temporarily to take their rage, hatred, and frustrations out on someone else, but ultimately they are only giving themselves more misery. Karma, if you want to call it that.
Q: There is a process for which playwrights get their plays seen? Are you in that process and is it as hard as you thought it would be?
Yes to both. I am in that process with the help of my very talented creative team. This is the first time I’ve done this: my first audition, my first rehearsal, my first recording. It’s frustrating, at times, but fun. We’re still in our infancy, and who knows? Ultimately it may be too hard to get “Lube” to Broadway. Only time will tell. Our next step is to hold a public reading of “Lube” at San Diego’s LGBTQ Center.
Q: “Lube: A Modern Love Story” conveys the universal message, “love yourself.” What sets the play apart from others and why should the public get behind it?
People express this sentiment in different ways. The It Gets Better Project closely aligns with what I’m trying to accomplish. Even with countless celebrities sending that signature message, teen suicide rates are at epidemic proportions. More teens commit suicide in the U.S. each year than all the mass shooting deaths combined by a factor of 2 or 3. I don’t want to lecture on the topic, but the national figures are cause for grave concern.
One of the reasons I wrote “Lube” was to provide positive gay role models in a fun and entertaining manner. The musical includes gays, lesbians, straights, bisexuals, and a drag queen or two. “Lube” is not a be-all and end-all cure for gay suicide, but it’s one way of trying to reach that target audience, and perhaps, provide some relief, some hope, some sense of what could lie ahead for an individual to help convince them to stick around for a while.
Ultimately, one must ask: “What does ‘Wicked’ or ‘Hairspray’ offer, and why did the public get behind them?” I think the answer is that they are just a lot of fun. That’s my intention and I hope audiences will find that “Lube: A Modern Love Story” is exactly that.
Q: Do you believe you can have your musical accepted without a trial run somewhere to show that audiences are responding to it?
No, I don’t believe it and it’s not what I’m trying to do. It takes a long time for a play to make it to Broadway. Even if “Lube” was the best musical ever, it would take years to open there. The road we’ll take after the reading is a bit hazy.
A lot depends on how well received the reading is.
I submitted the play for production at Diversionary Theatre and the La Jolla Playhouse. Diversionary has declined to produce the show, but I suspect that “Lube” is too “big” a show to fit in their small space. I haven’t yet heard back from the La Jolla Playhouse, but should we get accepted, we’d really be on our way. I remember watching “Thoroughly Modern Millie” there before it opened on the Great White Way. If they also decline to produce the show, things get a bit more complicated.
Q: What is your ideal situation for “Lube: A Modern Love Story”?
Locate an LGBT celebrity to emcee the reading; hold a successful first reading of the full script with the music recorded and played at appropriate points; the La Jolla Playhouse informs me that they would like to stage the play; we get offers from other theaters around the country to stage the musical; “Lube” goes off-Broadway for final tweaks; we open on Broadway as a smash success; and everyone associated with the play wins a Tony Award!
This is a long journey. For most, it never happens. There will be setbacks, heartbreaks and a time when it all seems hopeless. But, for the dreamers this is when they shine the most. A deep belief in themselves and their project sustains them when most throw in the towel. I, for one, want to take that magic carpet ride to the light of Broadway. Who is going to join in?
“Lube: A Modern Love Story,” a gay-themed Broadway-style musical, will have a full script reading on Saturday, Oct. 1, at 7 p.m. in the San Diego LGBT Community Center’s auditorium, located at 3909 Centre St., in Hillcrest.
The cast will include Jeremiah Hein, Manny Lopez, Grace Karl, Jon Bada, Princess Grafwallner, Joseph White II, Whitney Reade, Jennifer Leon, Danny Ingersoll and Tim Arends and all 24 songs written for the play will be performed during the reading.