Welcome to the April Edition of the DGF Fellows Spotlight!
Each month we’ll feature a DGF Fellow and invite you to take a behind-the-scenes look at our program.
We’ve introduced you to Jessica Kahkoska & Elliah Heifetz; Paulo K Tiról, and Kate Douglas. Over the year, we’ll be hearing from the rest of the 2019-2020 Fellows: Andrew Rincón, Andy Roninson, Avi Amon, Kyoung H. Park, Melis Aker, Nikhil Mahapatra, and Nolan Doran.
Each writer is asked a series of questions to help us get to know them better, while exploring where they’ve been, what they’re up to now, and what they see for the future.
Please take your seats, unwrap your candies, and silence your cellphones as we put the spotlight on DGF Fellow Andy Roninson!
What was your first experience with theater?
I can’t remember. I know I would watch the VHS tapes of West Side Story and the original Broadway production of Into The Woods (and I did play the Mysterious Man in Into The Woods Jr. when I was 10) all the time. I know that I wrote a few lines of lyrics for a class play when I was maybe seven or so. Something like “He’s Seal, and I’m Otter/And we like to play in the water.”
When did you decide to become a writer? Is there a writer, show, or piece of writing that was particularly influential on your path?
The decision to write a song must have first come about for my high school rock band. The decision to write a musical was in freshman year of college (for a show called Exorcism on Aisle Five). I can’t pinpoint exactly when I decided to pursue writing above all else, but it must have been during my first years at the BMI Musical Theater Writing Workshop.
As far as writers being influential… Hm…. Here are the writers about whom I have thought “And now I will write a song that sounds like _____”: Bob Dylan, Ben Folds, Jeanine Tesori, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Regina Spektor, the Beatles, Robert Johnson, John Williams, the Gershwins. And forgive me, Sondheim, for how much I have stolen. I am a well of unoriginality.
How do you describe your work overall? What sets your work apart?
There’s an emoji that doesn’t exist, but should. It’s just a happy smiley but with one tear coming down. That’s how I would describe my work.
Can you tell us a little bit about the work you’ve been developing as a Fellow?
It’s a new musical– very, very new– loosely based on the experiences of my parents growing up in the Soviet Union. It’s about a young woman in Moscow in the 1970s who gets into bootleg rock records and decides to leave the country.
What do you find most rewarding about your work as a writer?
When a great actor performs one of my songs, and they create something new and miraculous I could never imagine… That’s just the f-ing best, my friend.