Q&A: Christopher Anselmo, co-creator of ‘Fable’

Tori Latham, Reporter

The New York Musical Theatre Festival has given artists the chance to stage their shows in a professional setting since 2004. This year, Communication sophomore Christopher Anselmo and his writing partner, New York University sophomore Harrison Kaufman, were given the chance to produce their musical “Fable.” The Current sat down with Anselmo, who wrote the music and lyrics, to talk about his involvement with “Fable” and the Festival.

The Current: What is “Fable” about?

Christopher Anselmo: It takes place when a group of friends decide to go to this high school graduation party as their last hurrah. There’s this other girl who has spent her entire high school career kind of in the back and her parents just revealed that they’re getting divorced. She crashes this graduation party, a lot of stuff ensues and she starts making friends with this group from earlier. The general gist of it is that all these friends have a lot of secrets and they find out that their friendship isn’t as strong as it was.

The Current: How did the collaboration between you and Kaufman come about?

CA: Harrison and I have been best friends since sixth grade. We met at summer camp, and we would always write funny songs together. Senior year, I had to do a senior project, and it had to be about something pertaining to the career field that you wanted to go into. A lot of people did research on crabs and stuff like that, and I just wrote a musical. That following summer at camp I brought it to Harrison and that became “Fable.” Basically, two years later, here we are.

The Current: How did “Fable” make it to the New York Musical Theatre Festival?

CA: Last year we had the script, and we wanted to put it on to see what it would look like. I went to Arts Alliance at Northwestern and asked them if we could do a special event, so we did that. Right after that we did a production at the Actors Training Center in Wilmette. Then we put it down for the summer, didn’t really look at it and didn’t really talk about it. This fall the application process opened up for the festival. We found out in December that we were finalists, and we had an hour-long interview. Right after that interview our show went to what they call the Grand Jury, which had a lot of prominent theater people on it. From there we got the call saying, “Congratulations, you’re selected.”

The Current: How does it feel to be the youngest team ever chosen for the festival?

CA: It’s kind of scary. We’re the only people who are currently in college while doing the festival. Part of the festival is you put on the show yourself. Balancing writing the show and producing the show with being a full-time student has been very difficult. A lot of fun though!

The Current: What’s the next step in the process for the musical?

CA: We just had auditions this past weekend, which was crazy! We had a lot of really big name people walk in, and I was just freaking out because I’m a little sophomore sitting in the audition room. We just hired our design team and stage manager and found out the dates for the show yesterday. We find out decisions on casting by the end of the week.

The Current: What has the Festival taught you as a writer?

CA: Harrison and I are a better team now. Writing shows has become easier, and we’ve gotten quicker at it. We know that we have two more years left of college that we could put this down and once we graduate, pick up other things. We have another two shows that we’re currently working on and hope to do at either Northwestern or NYU next year. I think it’s one of those things where it’s comforting to know that we are so young. It’s a blessing because we’re younger and we know we have another chance later in life and it’s a curse because we’re still in school.

The Current: What do you hope for after the Festival?

CA: It’s hard to say. Harrison and I set up a two-prong goal. There are the goals for us, which is to just keep writing musicals and to be introduced to the professional New York theater scene. As for “Fable,” we’d love for it to go off to another theater, hopefully within that area, where we can keep developing it and keep it on an upward trajectory.

The Current: If “Fable” doesn’t get picked up, what would be your next move into the musical theater world?

CA: The way Harrison and I are looking at it is that we’ve had this really amazing opportunity so early in our careers. We do the best work we know we can do and if nothing happens afterward, that’s totally fine. We’ve learned so much from this process already. It’s outrageous. Every day I feel like I’m having growing pains where my head hurts so much, but I’m learning so much at the same time.

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