Billboard on Broadway Podcast: Re-Imagining Studio 54 & Mudd Club in 'This Ain't No Disco'
Back in 1979, the music scene in New York reached a vibrant pinnacle thanks in large part to two venues that have since gone down in rock history: Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager's glamorous celebrity-magnet disco Studio 54 and downtown's Mudd Club, a seminal spot that hosted experimental acts ranging from Lou Reed and Talking Heads to Blondie and the B-52s.
Now, those scenes are being brought to life again -- on a major off-Broadway stage -- in a "rock opera" by Stephen Trask, who wrote the music and lyrics for the groundbreaking musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and his collaborator Peter Yanowitz, drummer for the Wallflowers.
Trask and Yanowitz, along with actors Samantha Marie Ware and Peter LaPrade, join host Rebecca Milzoff on this week's episode of the Billboard on Broadway podcast to talk about that show, This Ain't No Disco.
"We were interested in writing a different kind of show than we had ever seen before," Yanowitz says. The unorthodox musical follows the lives of a motley group of artists who pass in and out of Studio 54 and Mudd Club in 1979. "People find each other in the nightclubs, but how they find each other and what they do when they find each other is what's important to us," says Trask, who goes on to explain that "not over-telling the stories with endless narrative set to lyrics" was a main goal of his and Yanowitz's. "To get people in that wave of emotion is sort of the point."
In their conversation with Milzoff, the four delve into the historical-musical moment in which Disco is set; the artists who inspired Ware's and LaPrade's characters; the challenges of bringing disco and rock into a theatrical context; and much more.