Matthew Johnson, a professor at Millersville University, is currently in the process of putting together an original musical titled “Sorry Brian, You’re Derek Now.” The musical is inspired by a three song setlist by the Lancaster based indie-rock band Ton-Taun.
The musical follows a young man named Brian whose golden boy twin brother Derek dies from a skiing accident. After his brother’s death, Brian’s family and society wants him to be just like his brother Derek. According to Johnson, “the people in Brian’s society are oblivious to the fact that he wants to be his own person.” The musical is a dark comedy, but Brian’s quest to step out of his brother’s shadow is at the very heart of this rock musical.
The musical’s creation had as interesting a story as the show itself. The band Ton-Taun in August of this year reached out to Johnson asking him to turn their three song EP into a play; Johnson had a different idea. He envisioned Ton-Taun’s piece as a quirky rock musical. The band decided to go with Johnson’s unique vision, and out of that vision a musical was born.
Johnson said that the band gave him the songs and the permission to play with it all he wanted. Ton-Taun and Johnson decided to go all out by hiring a professional director and a creative team who could get the musical on its feet. The cast is comprised of actors who are relatively new to the theater. The creative team wanted to cast new actors to keep the raw quality of the material intact.
Putting on this musical was a learning process for Johnson and the actors. “My favorite part of putting on the musical was collaborating with the people,” says Johnson. The inexperienced actors added a playful nature to the rehearsal process. Nevertheless, the professional creative team helped keep the rehearsals grounded.
Throughout this process Johnson has rediscovered his love for musical theater. It has always been a dream of mine to write a musical,” says Johnson, “While musicals were a guilty pleasure [of mine], taking on this project has helped me come to the realization that I truly have a love for the musical theater form.” This just goes to show professors are more than capable of and willing to do creative projects outside of researching and lecturing.
“Sorry Brian: You’re Derek Now” plays at Tellus360 in Lancaster City, PA December 2 and 3 at 8p.m. and December 4 at 5p.m.. It is recommended that people buy tickets as soon as possible. This will be a one of a kind musical experience that should not to be missed.