Entertainment » Theatre

Twisted Fairy Tales: Talking with Michael J. Feldman About His Current LA Show

by Dale Reynolds
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Oct 2, 2018

More and more, it's become easier to live one's specific sexual identity in this country. In politics, in science, in industry, and especially in the arts, LGBTQ peoples are finding it safe (or at least safer) to be out in their line of work.

It's mainly in the theater that individuals are most able to be free of judgment and condemnation: writers, directors, producers, and leading men and women, more able to admit to one's sexual and emotional truths. One such artist is Michael J. Feldman who is currently helming a successful musical comedy-revue in Los Angeles, "Fairy Tale Theatre 18 & Over, A Musical" that continues at the Pico Theatre in Los Angeles through October 8.

The 36-year-old Brooklyn native and a 2003 BFA graduate of NYU recalls being involved in theater since high school.

"I loved doing it (theater), but during my college years, I realized that just acting was not going to do it for me, so I began writing (he joined the section of the drama department called Creative Original Work.

"After graduating, I wrote and toured college campuses with my first solo show, 'Diagnosis: Jew Pain,' about growing up in a Conservative Jewish family while enduring my coming-out process." He took it to the New York Fringe Festival, to Pennsylvania and — naturally — to Jerusalem.

He then wrote another show in 2011 that dealt with male body issues and took that to Texas, Colorado, and eventually onto Los Angeles where he looked to get into film and TV work. "(It) was very difficult at first. So I had to keep reminding myself that my success was — and would continue to be — in creating my own work."

His determination paid off. He found television work on such diverse shows as MTV's "Inbetweeners" (based on a British show); "Dead Beat" on Hulu; "The Neighbors" on ABC; "Kevin From Work" on ABC Family (now, Freeform).

With new confidence, Feldman met up with fellow NYU grads, including Annie McVey, who now directs his shows, other actors, such as Jason Rogel, whom he had met on set, and puppeteer Jess McKay from The Groundlings. Tina Huang, (who performs in the show), is a co-founder of Ammunition Company, and with her help, Feldman creates a new "Fairy Tale" show every month - so far, totaling over 80 "Tales," some of which they performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

"After our first episodes, I realized how much I wanted to mainly create work with music. I write the book and lyrics of the shows with another Groundling's alumni, Jason Currie, as composer. We work well together, going back-and-forth with the feel of the song with one influencing the other. I'm happier now knowing I can't do it all myself. So, we write true stories of all kinds, increasing our company's strength with diversity."

In his current "Fairy Tale Theatre 18 & Over," he's brought back some of the more gleeful characters: The Eskimo, The Glacier, and The Penguin. "We use puppets, with the actors dressed in black, manipulating them as they mouth the words." He's also brought in some new tales, such as "Frisky and the Stray Cat," an opera of sorts, utilizing gay male experiences by sexually pleasing a straight guy, hoping it will turn into love (trust it; it doesn't!).

His Penguin character is Sondheimesque in his clever send-up of Sondheim's songs; along with dramatizing the issue of rich-versus-poor (utilizing the concept of Service Dogs who condescend to Regular Dogs), with a knowledgeable use of pop-rock. In the "Star Tale," he uses intelligent awareness of astronomy to discuss how distant we are from one another. "Our perspectives can be that everyone else has it better than us, even though we're all struggling."

With low budgets for these shows, Ammunition depends largely on strong reviews from critics and stronger word-of-mouth from the fans, who are mostly a young, mixed crowd. On opening night, they started loudly screaming and never let up, proving there is an audience for Feldman's work. So, perhaps, Off-Broadway might - just maybe - be the next move for him.

Married for three years to another NYU graduate, actor-writer-real estate agent Michael Rachlis, the two of them are developing a web series, "Michael and Michael Are Gay," for online, as well as new and very secret film.

"Fairy Tale Theatre 18 & Over" continues through October 7th, at The Pico, 10508 West Pico Blvd, West Los Angeles. visit the Ammunition Company website.


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