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Bikers in Camelot, Producer's Blog

by Wendy Bichela

Bikers in Camelot, our upcoming romantic musical fantasy, has the cast of my dreams. Not only do all four actors have amazing voices, but there is not a prima dona among them. A friend, who saw a rehearsal the other day, said, “If they’re having this much fun now, the show is really going to be a hoot.” These four strangers have coalesced into an ensemble that is tight, supportive and caring . . . and they’re having a ball. They know they have each other’s backs, and that confidence is allowing all of them to take risks in the rehearsal process. This creates an ideal situation for a director, as ours, Ken Albanese (Ken A.), will tell you. And it’s making me really happy, because I’ve always seen that when you create a really tight ensemble, the audience will come along for the ride.

We only needed four actors to play the four characters in the show: Michael, Holly, Kevin and Caroline. But the search for them took us on a real journey.

Our first choice was obvious, Clara Dunham. Clara lives in San Miguel. She has a glorious soprano voice and is an actor whose skill we’ve admired for years. She’s a member of the acrobatic troupe Gravity Works and a dancer. These are skills that her character, Caroline needs for her surprise number in act II. When Clara agreed to do the role, I had a jolt of awareness that the show was actually going to happen. It was a great moment, but I knew that I was kissing my life of leisure goodbye. How right I was.

And then there were three. Our hope was that Clara would be the first in a cast of San Miguelenses. We tried the Civil List, the opera community and word of mouth. Ultimately the combined requirements of finding four actors here who could play characters in their mid-late thirties and who could sing a musical score that requires formal training in musical theater or opera, made a complete San Miguel cast impossible. Also, I’d counted on casting some Mexican actors. I even re-wrote Michael’s role to make him Latino, in an effort to work with Rodrigo Demian. But in spite of some new lines, the character was just too American. So here we were in Mexico, and we couldn’t take advantage of the amazing Mexican talent around us.

It’s probably not surprising that we found Magnus Dorholt Kjeldal, when we weren’t looking. My husband (Ken B.) and I were on a retreat, when, in the middle of an evening program, we heard a man’s voice singing so sweetly that it made me cry. I looked up and saw a Viking god. I knew he had to be the Dark Angel of Holly’s books! Magnus is a successful baritone from Oslo, Norway who has recently married a Mexican woman. I asked him if he’d ever wanted to do musical comedy. He said he’d never thought about it, but it sounded like fun. That took care of that. Magnus has proven to be not only an outrageous singer, but a house mate with the serene temperament of an angel, who can also do computer repairs in emergencies.

And then there were two. It was the end of summer. We had held auditions here for several months, and finally realized we’d have to go to New York and hold auditions there. A week before we left, we attended a stunning cabaret performance by a young woman whose career we had followed for years, Santa Claire Hirsch. She had just moved to New York City, and was already getting jobs. The idea of going “back” to SMA was not very tempting to her, but premiering a major role in a new musical was. She came to an audition we held on the Upper West Side. When I heard her, I knew I’d finally found someone who could give me Holly, with her quirky combination of innocence and edginess. She agreed to do it.

And then there was one. It was already September. We’d returned to SMA without our Michael, which was making me very nervous. Then we received two separate recommendations for an actor named Joshua David Cavanaugh. We loved what we saw on Youtube. But Joshua couldn’t audition because he was starring in another new musical that had opened, far more traditionally, in Philadelphia. The postponement had me biting my nails, but he finally finished the project, and auditioned with Santa Claire, who called me to say, “We had so much fun!” Kens A. and B. and I received the video of the audition a day later and offered Josh the role of Michael. He’s such a fine musician, he’s been an amazing asset. But we all love him best in his role as class clown. Every company should have one.

And then . . . we had our cast.

To learn more about the show and watch a teaser with a few snippets of the songs, please go to our -

Indiegogo campaign.

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Wendy Bichel (producer, book, music and lyrics for Bikers in Camelot) graduated from Stanford in creative writing. After a successful stint in Europe singing jazz, she returned to New York City during the “golden age of cabaret,” and performed a series of original one-woman shows, including the successful, Wendy Wonder and the Permanent Wave. She received a full fellowship from the highly acclaimed Masters Program in Music Theatre Writing at NYU. She was commissioned by Gail Merrifield Papp of the Public Theater to write a ten-minute musical, then a full-length musical, Love, Sex and Rock and Roll. A European PR firm commissioned her to write a musical/pageant, The Millennium Medicine Show for Tina Turner. Among her other works are a two-actor vampire musical, Are You Dying to Live with Me; an opera, The Garden of Katan; Emir, a children’s musical; and Bikers in Camelot, which has had workshops and staged readings in New York City and further development in San Miguel de Allende, where it opens February 20, 2019.

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