David Boyd and Chad Kessler on their recent musical The Groove Factory
Recent musical The Groove Factory, at Theatre at St. Clement was set in 1999 amidst the death of clubland and Y2k paranoia, combining elements of a modern day pop concert with a character-driven, theatrical storyline, all to an original electronic dance soundtrack. I had the chance to talk to creators David Boyd and Chad Kessler about creating a musical that takes a look back at New York City during those drug fueled years pre 9/11.
How did you come up with the idea for The Groove Factory and how long did it take to write?
Chad: We set the story on New Years Eve, 1999 in New York City as a window into a society so close yet so far away to our modern consciousness. We used one of our favorite childhood stories by Roald Dahl, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory as inspiration and adapted his message of overindulgence to 90s club kids, designer drugs, Djs and NYC’s last mega clubs still standing. So far it has taken 11 years to write, and we are still “tweaking.”
David: I have always been fascinated with the idea of creating a radio ready electronic dance musical. I wanted it to be both socially provocative in the vein of Madonna concerts from the 90s, and theatrically relevant with a story for the audience to engage with. Some songs in the piece were written 12 years ago, some 2 weeks ago.
Chad: We met as actors at a play reading group on the Upper West Side. We began hanging out and I was immediately blown away by David’s musical gifts. His incredible gift for lyrics and infectious melodies were truly something unworldly and I knew we had to work together. I had come of age in the mid 90s as a theater major at NYU so I would frequent Limelight, Tunnel, Club USA every weekend. It was in these clubs, I witnessed fringe-type people from all over the world connect and find their own acceptance while sharing the love of music and looking outrageously fabulous.
David: I had been on two Broadway tours throughout the 90s and I noticed the same thing all over the country. People coming together regardless of sex, age, color, sexual orientation in order to dance, let loose and just act decadently. It truly was a resurgence of 1970s “disco” culture, a time of an utter “Let It Go” attitude. Overindulgent, American life as we knew it in “The Gay 90s” was all about to reach a screeching halt come 9/11. We had all thought Y2K was gonna destroy us, but the imminent global threat was lying just a year and half later.
You were just in the New York Musical Festival to much acclaim! What’s next for you?
Chad: Thanks! It was quite a ride. We played to packed houses every night and its clear that an audience is hungry for this type of show.
David: We are planning a concept album, a workshop based on feedback from our run at NYMF, and we are happily in discussions to open at a venue in NYC this fall.