A year later, at the Centro de Bellas Artes in San Juan, Relatively Speaking, by Academy student William Fox, raised $100,000 toward that effort. And on April 26, Fox's newest production, Questionable Quest, continues the fund-raising mission in New York with eight performances at the Beacon Theatre.
Playwright Fox and director Elliott Taubenslag spoke (on a speaker-phone conference call from Puerto Rico) about Questionable Quest, their latest collaboration. Fox has been a student at Palmas Academy for three years, where he started piano lessons at the age of six. There was none of the usual parental urging to get him to practice ("I loved it immediately," he says), and he started composing a few years later.
Taubenslag has a strong background in children's theater, but when asked to direct Relatively Speaking, he initially declined. "At the time I had so much going on, and had far too many commitments to other projects," he recalls. "But then I read the script, they invited me to visit Puerto Rico and I fell in love with everything here."
Quest, he says, is even stronger than Fox's first musical, which benefited from a strong production team and local interest. "It took on a grand scale," he says. "After they brought me in, I brought in other people and the show became an event. We had a full orchestra, support from the community, and performances in a theater equivalent to those in Lincoln Center: absolutely enormous. Our matinee performances were filled with school children, and evening performances were filled with adults."
Questionable Quest is a medieval tale of a serf who is unwilling to accept a predestined life of misery and toil. Determined to change his fate, he withstands trials and tribulations before achieving his goal, finding romance along the way. Fox and Taubenslag say that the finale sums up the show's theme: No matter what people are saying, take a chance if you know you can do something.
The score of 14 songs is performed by a Latin band, which Taubenslag describes as simply magnificent. The cast of 40 ranges in age from eight to 15, and the musical runs 90 minutes without an intermission.