When I look for inspiration among playwrights, I look to Rodgers & Hammerstein, Kander and Ebb, Laurents and Sondheim. The attention paid to crafting rich stories and characters made my experiences in the theatre emotional ones. I grew up devouring the musicals from Rodgers and Hammerstein. When I got older I rented their musicals and to see what else they had done and saw South Pacific. When I first watched and heard the song “Carefully Taught” I cried. Here was this writing team from the ‘40s and ‘50s that I thought only wrote sweet musicals with children in King and I and Sound of Music and I now heard this song talking about racism being taught and learned, 30 years before I was born. It was so bold and unique. That’s when I realized musical theatre and theatre could have social impact for the better. They tackled racism and civil rights in their shows over and over. When I realized without them there would be three less Asian-American musicals it really made me stop and think about their views and what drove them as artists to use theatre as their artistic vehicles.
My new musical BIG EXCELLENT 20TH REUNION is intentionally ethnically diverse on stage and behind the scenes. It is historically the first Off Broadway production that was created by and has lyrics, libretto and composition written by an Asian-American woman. In addition to this, I am self-producing it. It is very funny because it talks about loss, family and the impact of HIV, civil rights, and cancer within a close circle of friends. It also gives voices to those that haven’t seen much representation. My characters are dynamic because they are beautiful, with flaws, and could be anyone’s best friend, brother, sister, daughter or son. And if one person stands up for someone else inside the theatre, then hopefully they will continue in real life. www.ksstevens.com/be20r.html
KS Stevens debuts her new musical BIG EXCELLENT 20TH REUNION June, Off Broadway. (creator, producer, librettist, lyricist and composer.) Credits: Butch Mamas!, Yellow Lens & The Scene, “GO Magazine’s: 100 Women We Love.” Member: Dramatists Guild of America, Women’s Initiative 50/50 in 2020, Asian American Film Lab, & WOW Cafe Theatre.