Falling Into Success
Tony Award winner and Memphis co-author Joe DiPietro discusses creating his new show Falling For Eve.
Now, DiPietro is everywhere; his play F**king Men is in Chicago; his play The Last Romance bows next month at San Diego's Old Globe Theatre, and he just debuted his newest show, Falling for Eve, at the York Theatre Company. TheaterMania recently caught up with the talented writer to talk about these projects.
THEATERMANIA: How's life as a Tony Award winner?
JOE DI PIETRO: It's excellent. The thing about winning a Tony is that you find that everybody you've ever met contacts you, even if it's mostly to say "congratulations." It's been unbelievable. That night played out like a childhood dream, so you really can't quantify what it meant. It took me six or seven days to digest it and believe it actually happened.
TM: Falling for Eve is about Adam and Eve, but it's not told in the traditional way. Did that appeal to you when you were approached to work on the show?
JD: I thought, "Let's not make this a typical Adam and Eve show." If God had to personify him or herself, God wouldn't be an old man with a beard. If I was God, I'd make myself really good looking. Then we had the idea of "why does God have to have a gender?" But how do you dramatize that onstage? I thought, "what if it was two people (man and a woman) playing God." So that's where that idea came from, and then they sort of interchange among themselves as we go on. I think the female God is more maternal, but is also sexier than the male God who has a more paternal attitude and gets a little angrier, I think. So we used the parent analogy of the two Gods. One's the mom and one's the dad, but they're really the same being.
TM: The number "Good Things Are Coming" suggests that the female God is the God of temptation. Was that the idea?
JD: Adam misses Eve, and God is trying to cheer him up and keep thing calm. She sings, "stay calm; there's good things that lie ahead." She's amazed that Eve has left Eden, and at that point in the show, she thinks she's going to come back and beg forgiveness for eating the apple, and that they'll get together there. So God is just trying to keep Adam in check.
TM: What's the difference for you between writing the book and lyrics with David Bryan as you did on Memphis and The Toxic Avenger and just writing the book for Falling for Eve?
JD: Well, it's big. David and I were essentially collaborating from the beginning on those other shows. We had a story and a sound, and now when we have a new project, even before I write, we talk about what it could sound like and what his musical interpretation of that musical era is. It's a very organic process. With Falling for Eve, someone sent me a version of the book and told me they were looking for a writer to redo it, and there were songs that already existed. At first, I was like, "I don't know if the world really needs another Adam and Eve musical." But I read it and listened to it, and I thought it was really interesting. And I loved the music. They kept a lot of songs and wrote some new ones.
TM: What kind of music did you listen to growing up?
JD: I grew up in the 1970s, so it was everything from the Eagles and Linda Ronstadt to the harder stuff like Led Zeppelin and Yes. I was also really influenced by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Interestingly, it was also the time when American Graffiti and Happy Days came out, so the music of the 1950s was making a resurgence then. I had all those late 1950s songs too, and I was a big Elvis fan.
JD: I always like to work. A couple of years ago I wrote an all-male version of La Ronde called F**king Men, and it just opened at the Bailiwick Theater in Chicago and got really good reviews and has been extended. And David Bryan and I are working on a new show about songwriters in the Brill Building in the early 1960s. It's sort of a follow-up to Memphis.