“The Unsackable Man”

Zombie Joe’s continues their 30th season with the world premiere of Dan Waldkirch’s new musical, “The Unsackable Man.” Photo by Jeremey Connors.
Zombie Joe’s continues their 30th season with the world premiere of Dan Waldkirch’s new musical, “The Unsackable Man.” Photo by Jeremey Connors.

Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre presents  “The Unsackable Man,” written By Dan Waldkirch, directed by Denise Devin and running through April 30.

Zombie Joe’s continues their 30th season with the world premiere of Dan Waldkirch’s new musical, “The Unsackable Man.” This football sea shanty extravaganza is based around the story of “Moby Dick,” and follows the journey of Defense Captain Ahab on a quest to sack sworn enemy, Quarterback Will White, with the entire story narrated by Nose Tackle Ishmael.  Doesn’t it sound amazing!?

While we are used to Zombie Joe’s being the centre of the universe for the extraordinary and the surreal, “The Unsackable Man” seemed just too delicious for words and deemed further investigation.  So we tracked down the lovely writer and composer Dan Waldkirch and picked his brain a little…so to speak.

Zombie Joe’s continues their 30th season with the world premiere of Dan Waldkirch’s new musical, “The Unsackable Man.” Photo by Jeremey Connors.
Zombie Joe’s continues their 30th season with the world premiere of Dan Waldkirch’s new musical, “The Unsackable Man.” Photo by Jeremey Connors.

When: 

Running April 8 – 30

Friday and Saturdays at 8:30PM

Where:

Zombie Joes Underground Theatre
4850 Lankershim Blvd. NoHo Arts District 91601

Tickets:

https://www.tix.com/ticket-sales/zombiejoes/4552

SSR

So Dan, this is a very unusual play, which is not ‘unusual’ for Zombie Joe’s of course. Exactly what gave you the idea for reimagining “Moby Dick” on the football field.

Dan

Well I’m from more of a music background, I’m a composer first and foremost and I had never written dialogue or a book or a musical.  I did one musical about five years ago for The Hollywood Fringe called “Save Me a Spot” which went really well, is was a tiny five person show. I had been looking for a new concept for the last few years and scrapped a lot of ideas. I really have been wanting to write something with kind of a sea shanty and drinking song, kind of folk type music. And I wrote a little pirate musical that was okay , but nothing super special. I had also been toying around with a football musical, which was also okay, but kind of out of frustration I wondered what would happen if I crudely mashed them together and I found out quickly that there’s actually a lot of parallels between them.  The Maritime world and being on a football team. I made the connection that a ship has a captain and a football team has a captain and that led me to think of Captian Ahab and Moby Dick which led me to read the book Moby Dick and I thought well, this is kind of interesting. So thats how it all started.

SSR

Know know, it’s so weird and I get that explanation, and I totally get that connection because I’m from sailing background and so I love that whole you know,  pirates, and the sea shanties and you know in England we have rugby and everyone sings rugby songs which are really like sea shanties, so there’s a really interesting link for me as well.

Dan 

Yeah because there was a wave of sea shanties getting popular again last couple of years or so and I have been really into them for the last ten years before that, but it was fun to see all that come back. And I think what I really like about that kind of music is a lot of people singing songs together in a small space and I thought that would be really fun to do in a small theatre.  We could pack people in there with all that sound, it would be really interesting.

SSR

So you come from a composing background, do you have your own music that you have you have up anywhere? Or do you have a label? 

Dan

I have kind of random projects here, you know I’m not trying to pursue it professionally  a lot of projects with friends. Once in a while I’ll do a big project.  I do work at a music library, and I’ve had my music up on 30 to 40 films and TV shows, which is a side project for me.  I do little bits of piano music.

SSR

And did you write the book as well to the music to the show?

Dan

Yes I did, I came up with the story with a friend, Tom Klint and we worked out the story for a couple of months, then I did the actual writing.

SSR

The show at Zombie Joe’s are often a little crazy.  So sometimes you have to be a little bit prepared for what happens there, anything that people need to know before they go? Is it scary, do the lights go off suddenly, are there crazy things in your face?

Dan

No!  its definitely just a really really fun, high energy, family friendly show . There’s a couple of mild curse words. If you’ve never been to Zombie Joes, it’s a small space. If you’re sitting down the front then you’re going to be a couple of feet from people. There are a couple of cracks of thunder, a couple of blackouts.

SSR

Is it kind of pantomime then?

Dan

Yes, exactly.

SSR

And how do you feel? Excited? Nervous for the run of the show?

Dan

Not as nervous as I should be! Denise, the director, has been incredible and I totally trust her, she says we are on track and I’m not nervous because we have her on our side and an incredible cast.

Zombie Joe’s continues their 30th season with the world premiere of Dan Waldkirch’s new musical, “The Unsackable Man.” Photo by Jeremey Connors.
Zombie Joe’s continues their 30th season with the world premiere of Dan Waldkirch’s new musical, “The Unsackable Man.” Photo by Jeremey Connors.

SSR

Why Noho? Is it because of Zombie.

Dan

Yeah, I’ve been coming to shows there for probably 7 or 8 years and I just immediately fell in love with their whole concept and the people there. So it was actually Zombie who pushed me into doing it, because I told him about this show and he’s like, “well you have to do it here.”  So he gave me the confidence to go for this crazy thing.

SSR

Oh that’s great yeah, I know he’s an inspiration.

Do you have any tips for people who are who want to create some thing.  Who are not sure how to go about it, or anything that you’ve learned.

Dan

You know I am kind of late getting into theatre, I was not a theatre kid growing up.

But there’s a lot of people out here trying to write screenplays and stuff and I don’t think they realize that theatre is available to them and its way more available than they think. And really, you write something and you find people to do it and as soon as I realized that that was an option and that there are so many actors who just want something to perform, It gives you the confidence that you are really going to be able to do something Rather than for people who write to just let it sit there. That was the realization that I have, that theatre just has no really barriers. That inspired me.

SSR

That’s a really great point that you made because there are a lot of people in film who don’t know,  and I’m in the film world myself, so I know that’s a very good point. And also there’s such an immediacy with theatre.  So you if you put out some material that you’re not sure where it sits, where it fits, if you could put something together and you put it up on stage you can really get so much feedback immediately from an audience.

Dan

The other thing I learned was, I  was I was kind of nervous that there were all these directors and actors that would be doing me a favor by putting on my show. But you know you are kind of doing them a favor as well and it’s a back and forth thing because they just want to act and perform. Thats what they do!  So we are all helping each other.

SSR

Exactly, it’s collaborative.  Which film is, especially low-budget , because it has to be. But in that sense those two worlds should collide far more often than they do, I think you’re right. Dan, is there anything else you would like to tell everyone about the show?

Dan

Just to come and see it. This is the first show that Zombie Joe’s has done coming back from the pandemic and they are just and incredible theatre and I would recommend people check it out.  If you are into off-beat…anything, then this is the place to go and I’m really happy to be in that community now.

SSR

That’s wonderful and that’s a good point.  We really need to support all our NoHo local theatres, the ones that we still have.  It is very very important to keep them open. And to keep them open too for people like you who are nontraditional theatre makers.

Thank you Dan!

Please make sure you check out “The Unsackable Man” at Zombie Joes Underground Theatre in NoHo!!

Here is a link to a music project Dan did with his sister too: https://secret-plans.bandcamp.com/ .

Ticket Link:

https://www.tix.com/ticket-sales/zombiejoes/4552

Cast:

Featuring Steven Alloway, Larray Grimes, Dekland Jones, Zeke Jones, Tosca Minotto, Jonica Patella, Gina Rizzo Bishop, Nick Salas, Laura Van Yck.

Team:

Technical Director Jorge Lozano
Book & Lyrics (Written) by Dan Waldkirch
Directed by Denise Devin
Produced by Zombie Joe

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros
Author: Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros is a Theatre and Food Writer and Filmmaker living in Los Angeles.