Amongst the many wild and exciting shows at this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival is “The Legend of D.C. Colorado,” an irreverent fantasy/comedy Western musical making its debut. The production will then stream online on the 24/7 artist-centric Volume.com during the month of July.
“The Legend of D.C. Colorado” follows the adventures of two brothers, Clive and Owen, as they traverse the Wild West on a legendary journey to avenge their mother’s death. Along the way, they meet demons, witches, angels, and other unexpected characters. The play’s staged reading premiered Off-Broadway at Here Arts Center in New York City to an enthusiastic audience response in 2019. The musical is written and produced by a talented duo that also stars in the lead roles; Constantine Malahias (Clive) and Christopher Merlino (Owen). The childhood friends were living in NYC at the time and decided to develop the piece into an entire musical. One pandemic and a move to the West Coast later, the writing team is excited to debut this hilarious production. The Hollywood Fringe Festival is a perfect fit for the show with its free and unbridled creative environment.
This is a big show. It’s very ambitious and absolutely perfect for Fringe. We wanted to know more about the creatives behind the show…so we asked the writer/producer/stars of the show,Constantine Malahias (Clive) and Christopher Merlino (Owen) a few questions. Here’s what they had to say!
How on earth did you think of a western musical while living in New York?
Chris (Merlino) and I are constantly creating skits, characters, story ideas. We are constantly brainstorming. The Legend of D.C. Colorado oddly enough started with a home-cooked meal. Chris and I were roommates at the time and my mom had gifted me an instapot. Chris (Merlino) had the idea to make pulled pork. As we enjoyed the delicious pulled pork, I started playing western music. At one point I said, why don’t we write a western musical.
About two hours later we had already killed a character in the show.
What was your process for developing this piece?
This play started out as a show within a show. At the time, we were creating a variety show for our Instagram personalites (The Absolutely Incredible Bois). We found that people really connected to the main characters (Clive and Owen). As we wrote the skit, we found that the story was strong enough to stand on its own, so we just decided to make it stand on its own and we went back and revisited our initial ideas. We did a reading of this first version at the Here Arts Center in New York.
Why develop this as a play and not a movie?
When we were diving back into the scripts we were actually writing it as a film script but then we had a few friends tell us that we should just try this on its feet at the Fringe and then see how it does, to see what response we receive from the audience. We see ourselves recreating this piece as a movie as well.
Ultimately, we wrote this for ourselves and I think that the opportunity that Fringe is giving us -it’s an opportunity to do it and live it without anyone else’s permission. We can just make it ourselves and live it ourselves and I think that that’s primarily why we worked so intensely on this piece and brought it to Fringe.
Did you plan on playing the roles of the brothers when you wrote the play?
I think from the beginning we always wanted to. We always find humor I think in family relations – brothers and uncles and aunts and moms, the relationships between relatives. There’s a natural humor in us playing twin brothers when clearly, we don’t even look alike.
We also had a lot of fun they creating these characters and all these other ridiculous characters as well.
What are your background as actors and musicians?
We are both trained actors, that have been acting since middle school – where we met and acted together in school productions. Constantine went to NYU Tisch and I attend FSU School of Theater and Marymount Manhattan. Both of us have tv, film and theater credits. However, as musicians, we have have zero backgrounds. Basically, we just decided to do something and figure it out as we went along and obviously the only reason, we have music at all is because of Felix Birdie, our music composer who basically took our script and made beautiful music we have. We’ve been in musicals in high school and things like that but never in the sense of creating the music ourselves.
We are always writing. We think that musicals can be really funny. We’re just trying to write things that make each other laugh and then other people laugh with us. That’s the way it’s been going for the past ten years. It’s been great to have a friend that can really make it into a musical because we wrote some of the lyrics at first but, then it really became a real musical which is gone that way further than I ever thought it would.
What advice do you have for anyone mad enough to write a musical?
Get a Felix Birdie. Definitely get a person that can basically take nonsense ideas and vague suggestions and create it into something that’s specific, that’s moving. And to always think about why does this have to be a song as opposed to just dialogue.
And just write the thing. You might get find the right person who knows what the hell they’re doing- like Felix Birdie and our director, Alessandra Mesa. But, just do it. Just write it first.
What does Fringe mean to you?
Fringe, I think is an opportunity to just make the thing yourself, which is what our group of friends have always done. There’s so much waiting for permission in this industry, and I think you’re waiting for people to give you opportunities, especially as actors. In many aspects -as an actor, director, writer you’re always kind of looking for this opportunity. I think that Fringe is this chance to just say – how bad do you want it? And just do it. There’s no gatekeeping.
Thanks, guys! Excited to see this on the stage and in front of a Fringe audience!
You can find out even more about the show, the cast and crew, on their website: https://www.thelegendofdccolorado.com
June 11 – 10:30 P.M.
June 14 – 6:30 P.M.
June 18 – 6:30 P.M.
June 22 – 7:30 P.M.
The Broadwater Theater Mainstage
1076 Lillian Way, Los Angeles, CA 90038
CONSTANTINE MALAHIAS – Clive
CHRISTOPHER MERLINO – Owen
FELIX BIRDIE – PROPHET MONTEROSSO/ET AL
ALESSANDRA MESA – DIRECTOR
JOEY SWIFT – LONG JOHN SILVER / ET AL
GWYNN BALLARD – MARYANNE WEATHERBEE / ET AL
JACK DE SANZ – LUCINDRO TUSK
LO ARTIZ – MOMMA/BRUJA/ET AL
CONSTANTINE MALAHIAS – WRITER/PRODUCER
CHRISTOPHER MERLINO -WRITER/PRODUCER
FELIX BIRDIE -COMPOSER/MUSICAL DIRECTOR
ALESSANDRA MESA – DIRECTOR
BEN HOLST – MUSICAL ARRANGEMENT