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Molly Reynolds ... Got the Part

Molly Reynolds ... Got the Part
"For me there's absolutely no better, no happier time than developing a musical. I absolutely love it," says actor-writer Molly Reynolds. Reynolds has been acting in musical theater since she was a child, but recently she's changed her focus to writing.

As playwright and lyricist, Reynolds has been developing a new musical, "Benny the Baboon," for the past two years with creative partners Pumashock (Natalie White) and David St. Louis. Reynolds says that "Benny the Baboon" started out as a children's musical audio book. But when she began researching to make it more educational, she discovered that the real baboons in Cape Town, South Africa, are known for hijacking tourists' cars. So she and her collaborators based the musical on true events. "The baboons in Cape Town don't sing and dance, but everything that happens to the baboons in this musical is real," Reynolds says. Essentially, the show tells the story of two troupes of baboons with different ideas for how to survive in Cape Town now that the humans are pushing them out of their habitat.

When Reynolds started focusing on writing, she discovered the writer section of Back Stage and began submitting her work to festivals. The show made its debut with a staged reading in early 2010. Following that, "Benny the Baboon" was selected for three festivals. Reynolds directed it for the Manhattan Repertory Theatre Summerfest and then watched while it was performed at the Fullerton College Playwrights Festival. Most recently, the show was accepted to be part of The Pitch at the Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival. "The Pitch is a new series where creative teams of three people actually pitch the material themselves to an audience," says Pitch coordinator Walter Ryon. Of approximately 80 submissions, "Benny the Baboon" was one of the 20 selected tobe presented.

The process wasn't easy. Reynolds and her team had to provide recordings of the music, a synopsis, a full script, a 50-minute version of the script, and a video of the first 15 minutes of the show. When narrowing down the submissions, Ryon says he not only was looking for good material but also wanted a solid, hard-working team that could benefit from the experience. "Molly and her team excelled at helping us know not only their work but their potential as writers and artists," he says.

After reviewing the material, Ryon contacted Reynolds to make sure that her team would be able to perform the show (which consists of eight roles) with only three people. "Molly's team made it clear to us that the script would easily be done with a team of three people and could benefit from the format," Ryon says. Reynolds and St. Louis will perform all the roles, with Pumashock on the piano.

The creative team will fly to New York for three days of rehearsal prior to the four performances (Aug. 9-11 at the Finger Lakes Festival in Auburn, N.Y.), but most of the prep work will be done by Reynolds and her team before the trip. Reynolds says they've been preparing mainly via Skype, because the three collaborators are all in different states.

Reynolds is also putting up a staged reading of another original musical she wrote, "The Abusical," at The Road Theater Aug. 27 and will play Luisa in the Theatre West production of "The Fantasticks," opening Aug. 31. Reynolds is a member of SAG-AFTRA and Equity.

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