For the first time in the history of the art form, a musical comedy with an Off-Broadway house on it's resumé is now being independently licensed to the general public at no cost to company producers. Songwriter and librettist Joe Major recently announced that he is forfeiting his share of any profits accrued from all amateur productions of his award-winning musical, Bernice Bobs Her Mullet; effective immediately. A former licensing representative for Samuel French, Inc., Major says he will now authorize the performance rights of his own musical to any community theater companies, non-profit organizations or scholastic institutions for free with no restrictions on length of run, number of seats or ticket prices.
Loosely based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story Bernice Bobs Her Hair, Major's musical adaptation was first mounted in 2007 at the Julia Miles Theater as part of the New York Musical Theater Festival (NYMF). The New York run featured Ann Morrison (of Merrily We Roll Along's original Broadway cast); who recessed her retirement from the New York stage to join the eight member company. Incredibly, this premiere production began as a mere last minute replacement to the festival's roster and ended up being voted on by audiences as one of the top two shows (out of thirty-five) presented at the NYMF that season.
In addition to the Off-Broadway showcase, Bernice also received a much celebrated run at The Theatre Building in Chicago as well as two different benefit stagings; one at Northern Valley Regional High School in Demarest, New Jersey and the other at Missouri State University. Major confessed that these recent ventures into the world of fund raising were the inspiration for his new, free-for-all policy.
“It's a really fun piece that has already tested amazingly well in just about every sect the amateur market.” Major explained. “Yet it's just sitting on my shelf collecting dust while I shop it around for professional interest. And since I'm not earning royalties anyway, I really have nothing to lose by donating it to other amateur companies that might need a little help to stay afloat in today's economy.”
Production materials describe the musical as: “...the hilarious story of a young, high school redneck who sets out to make something of her life in the bustling metropolis of Little Rock, Arkansas. As she encounters a social scene treacherous enough to rival Fitzgerald's original version, Bernice is soon swept up in the glamor and politics of popularity as she learns the hard way that you shouldn't let it... go to your head.”
For information about licensing Bernice Bobs Her Mullet: A New Musical Comedy, visit the show's official website at: www.bernicebobshermullet.com.