Annie Golden, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Sarah Stiles, Taylor Trensch and Marc Kudisch star in the Broadway Podcast Network’s “Bleeding Love”
Long ago in 2014, a story by Jason Schafer imagined a world where people are locked inside because it’s too dangerous to leave the house. Today that story is strangely relevant. I caught up with producer Katie Rosin, who has put together an incredible cast and has released this story, called Bleeding Love, exclusively on the Broadway Podcast Network.
Katie put together an amazing cast of talent and well-known actors of stage and screen, including Annie Golden (Orange is the New Black), playing Madame Floy, a music teacher who likes her meds; and Rebecca Naomi Jones (Passing Strange and American Idiot) as Lolli, a badass babe who loves lollipops, but has never been given a rose. Broadway favorite Sarah Stiles (Broadway: Tootsie; EPIX: Get Shorty), stars as Bronwyn, a starry-eyed teen cellist who looks for love while isolated inside. Marc Kudisch (Broadway: Girl from the North Country; Netflix: House of Cards; Television: Sex and the City) plays The Super. Taylor Trensch (Broadway: To Kill a Mockingbird, Dear Evan Hansen, Hello Dolly) plays Sweet William, and Tony Vincent, well known for his appearance on The Voice, plays “Puppy.”
“This musical takes place in a world that’s post-apocalyptic and it’s too dangerous to go outside,” said Katie. Sound curiously familiar? Much of the musical demos had already been recorded pre-Pandemic by the six major artists involved. “There was some re-recording, but we didn’t have to start from scratch,” said Katie. “And it’s mixed by an award-winning sound mixer, so we were able to elevate the work that already existed, and then recorded all of the dialog while in quarantine.”
The story, by Jason Schafer, is loosely based on an Oscar Wilde short story called The Nightingale and the Rose. As the performers sheltered in their own homes, they were shipped microphones and sound equipment, and meetings were all done via Google Hangout. Needless to say, there was a lot of improvisation involved in getting the sound just right, and Rebecca Naomi Jones made an impromptu faux sound room by draping a blanket over herself and her microphone.
Rebecca described the process to The Vivant: “Recording a full length musical in less than ideal setting (an AirBnB sans sound proofing) and making the best of the technical shortcomings by crouching on my knees in front of a bed, positioning the computer in front of a propped up pillow, and singing downwardly into the mic in my lap, in order to get the sound balance just right for me to sing a series of very loud high Gs.” Remarkably, it worked! Who knew that a sound room could be duplicated by throwing a blanket over your head?’
Annie Golden is also making the best of her time in seclusion. She told us, “Before the lockdown I was constantly booked and my busyness infringed upon my personal life and family and friends, so my mantra became ‘my time is not my own.’ My four-year-old nephew asked, ‘Well, whose is it then?’ Good question, buddy!”
The story introduces a teen cellist named Bronwyn (Sarah Stiles), kept at home by her overprotective aunt, dreaming of the world outside. The building super (Marc Kudisch) keeps intruders at bay by gunpoint, and his son, Sweet William (Taylor Trensch) becomes obsessed with Bronwyn. Bronwyn doesn’t notice him though, and instead takes notice of a punk named Puppy (Tony Vincent) and his dominating girlfriend Lolli (Rebecca Naomi Jones), who demands a rose of Puppy, even though roses no longer grow in this strange world.
Bleeding Love lends itself to a podcast, and is somewhat reminiscent of an old-fashioned radio play. But the production isn’t going to stop there, and Katie says “Ultimately we would very much like to see it on stage in a non-socially-distanced environment. We are hopeful that people will love it as much as we do, and will want to see it in that format.”
Despite the post-apocalyptic setting, Bleeding Love is ultimately a touching story of hope and overcoming the darkness. Bleeding Love is available at BPN.FM/BleedingLove or BleedingLoveMusical.com, and will also be available on most podcast platforms.
Dan Blacharski is editor-in-chief of TheVivant.com.