Splinters, the first musical conceived and written by Sara Century, is a surrealistic combination of music and performance art in twelve acts with set and costume changes throughout. Working with Denver friends Katie Taylor and Heidi Kleder, Century has created a three-woman vehicle about the sometimes convoluted nature of friendships that should appeal to anyone with an absurdist sense of humor and an appreciation for the musical avant-garde. Splinters is set for a one-off debut performance on Sunday, June 15 in a secret location (divulged, of course, to ticket-holders); in advance of that show, we sat down with the women behind the musical to talk about the cross-time cultural references that are a part of the music, Kleder's involvement with artist Nick Cave's performance at the Denver Art Museum, and how Century found that reading the script aloud with her cohorts was essential in the editing of the musical into its final form. See also: Sara Century reveals friends and idols with her musicians' portrait gallery
Westword: This is a musical called Splinters? Was this what you had in mind when you were developing the idea to do a couple of years ago or more?
Sara Century: I had the idea to do a musical and then it just became what was available and how to make it work. The idea is there always, of course, to do a million different things -- but if you can actually make it work is rare. It took until both Katie Taylor and Heidi Kleder said yes at the same time for me to be able to work it out.
Why Katie and Heidi?
Century: Because Katie works with me the best in a lot of ways. Because I come at her with a crazy idea and she's just like, "Jesus Christ! Whoa! Let me sit on it." Six months later I bring it up again, and she says, "That sounds cool." Heidi was always in mind because Heidi is visually an interesting human being and she's going to be a creative dancer who can act ridiculously in the way we need for this musical.
Why a musical instead of a play?
Century: Because it's not dramatic, really. I like plays, I love musicals. We play a lot of music. Katie, Crab Lab and I have music that isn't rock music and if we're playing in bars, we're almost playing to the wrong crowd because we're obviously theatrical in a lot of ways.
Heidi Kleder: It's like a Sara Century/Crab Lab show except everyone is sitting down and we're in costumes.
Is there an overarching story you can share?
Century: We can share that Heidi is my ex-girlfriend that I'm trying to date again. Which is meta. She's my friend in real life and in the play I'm in love with her. That's what acting is. I wrote this script for Katie and Heidi and me to do. But we're all friends in real life so writing the script for them is kind of challenging because I have to write around their personalities, kind of.
How much of this musical is based on your obsession with Ellen Page?
Century: If Heidi's role were played by Ellen Page? All of it? If you guys were both Ellen Page, this would be a very different musical.
What other musicals do you like?
Century: I loved Forbidden Zone, I loved Lust in the Dust, Meet Me In St. Louis, Rocky Horror Picture Show and Grease. Any time Joan Crawford sang in any movie was gold, like in The Bride Wore Red and Dance, Fools, Dance. She sings a song called "Who Wants Love" in The Bride Wore Red. Billie Holiday sang it originally. We reference that and that Marlene Dietrich song "Falling In Love Again." And we do a cover of a song by The Seeds, "I Can't Seem To Make You Mine."
So these song placements, purposefully inappropriate though completely apropos, is a bit in line with some things you've done in the past, like when you used to cover "Little Red Riding Hood" by Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs. Are you going to do something completely wrong like cover "Under My Thumb" by the Stones?
Century: Well...There's some racy stuff. I sing a Madonna song, "Crazy For You." I'm singing along to the karaoke version while Heidi is getting her shit out of my apartment and breaking up with me. Some of the songs are old Crab Lab songs and some are old Sara Century songs but there are some new songs we wrote just for the musical. Keep reading for more on Splinters.
You wrote the script alone initially?
Century: Yeah, I wrote the script and we read it out loud and I realized the script needed to change and we read it out loud again and changed it some more. In a way Katie and Heidi are helping me write it, because they are being themselves when they read it and I see how the dialogue needs to change to be more in line with their mighty personalities. So they're like editors.
You are the terpsichorean expert for this musical, Heidi?
Kleder: I didn't know I was the choreographer until today, to be honest. I'll probably just make a fool of myself and be on rollerblades.
Have you performed in front of people before?
Kleder: That Nick Cave performance at the Denver Art Museum. I got chosen for that. I just heard last minute he was having an open audition for dancers. He said you didn't have to be a professional but just to bring the heat. I was one of twenty people to be chosen and paid.
Century: Heidi has done a thing in her resume already that murders both mine and Katie's right off the bat, so that's cool.
Why the masks for this musical?
Century: Partly because I'm obsessed with super-hero comics and I feel like that aesthetic is part of everything I do. Comic books have inspired my very existence to become a prank upon life, musicals and DIY culture and my own self.
So is Bill Murray, Katie's dog, going to make an appearance in this musical?
Century: We can't have Bill because he's a fuckin' wildcard. He can't be trusted. You can't trust Bill Murray. He's Scrooged!
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