Awkward Stage Productions presents Smackdown! The 24 Hour Musical Contest.
Awkward Stage Productions presents Smackdown! The 24 Hour Musical Contest.

Forget wrestling and the WWE, this Smackdown is all about musical theatre as Awkward Stage Productions presents Smackdown! The 24 Hour Musical Contest.

Awkward Stage’s Executive Director Sandra Herd gives us the lowdown on Smackdown.

1. Where did the idea for Smackdown! come from?

We heard about a similar event in NYC and thought why not here!  It’s a crazy fun event and an excellent way to engage the theatre community in sparking new works!  And the final presentation will be a great experience for the audience – dozens of exhausted artists performing their brand new material – seriously ANYTHING could happen!  And audience members can buy a pass to come and watch the teams as they create too, or buy ‘power ups’  for their favourite teams in our very own ‘Hungry Games’.  An example of a power up is a delivery of coffee at 2 a.m., donuts at 6 a.m., or the chance to raid the costume cupboard early!

2. Are there limit to the number of people on a team?

Team sizes are 5 to 15, but 25% of the team must be high school students!

3. 24 hours is not a lot of time to create a musical – how did you land on the 24 hours?

24 hours is indeed not a lot of time, but it’s the time pressure that will push the creativity!  Plus those hazy sleep deprived brains can do wondrous things!  I’m pretty sure it’s how all great works started.  Wasn’t Shakespeare an insomniac?

4. You’re giving each teams surprise elements to work with – do they get those at the start of the 24 hour period or will they get them in advance?

The surprise elements won’t be given out in advance.  It’s technically a 25 hour contest because the teams will arrive an hour early to receive their elements, get the low down on the rules etc. and eat a nutritious preparatory pizza!

5. Can you give us an example of a surprise element?

An example of a surprise element is a prop.  Each team will be given one prop – different for each team – which must be incorporated into their musical.  Obviously the better job they do of incorporating it, the higher they will score!  A team may get a gavel, or a balloon, or maybe a severed limb – anything is possible and the fun is what they imagine they could do with it!

6. Are there any restrictions given to teams as to the content of the show or will they have full rein in developing whatever they want?

There are no real restrictions on content, although nudity and sex on stage would hopefully not be considered.  We’ll have a chat with the teams at the start about that!  They may need to use puppets for those scenes.

7. Is there a deadline to register?

The deadline to apply is February 15!

8. How many teams can you accommodate?

There is a maximum of 5 teams – we only have 5 rooms – so if in the end there are more than that who have applied, we will have to make some tough choices.  Applying early helps!

9. What are some of the prizes to be awarded?

The grand prize is $500 and a commitment from Awkward to develop the new work, but there are plenty of other fun prizes to be won such as the “I Can’t Get It Out of My Head” award for best song, or the “Mama Loves You” award for the most power ups purchased for the team, or the “Fan Choice” award to be determined by an audience ballot at the performance.

10. The next show for Awkward Stage is Dogfight in April – tell us about it.

Dogfight is an examination of teen angst, social pressure, romance, war and redemption.   Based on the 1991 movie of the same name, Dogfight is set in 1963 on the eve of the Vietnam War.  A group of new recruits make a cruel bet on their way to a dance – a dog fight:  the guy who brings the ugliest date wins.  Eddie Birdlace finds young diner waitress Rose Fenny but has second thoughts about bringing her along.  Dogfight is an examination of broken hearts, broken souls, and broken times.

11. How did you come to choosing that particular show as your next work?

Dogfight is this year’s SEED project production.  The SEED project provides an opportunity for a team of emerging artists to direct, music direct and produce their own show with mentored guidance.  Applicants pitch the show they want to stage, and this year’s successful applicant was Chris Lam, who is directing.  From his application, Chris proposed Dogfight because of its tuneful and lyrical score that features folk-rock, 60s and 70s rock and endearing ballads, and because of its challenging style, story and characters.  It will also be the Vancouver premiere!

12. What’s in it for audiences?

The youthful, passionate score of beautiful ballads and pulsating pop numbers by award-winning, Tony nominated composers Justin Paul and Benj Pasek (James and the Giant Peach, TV’s Smash) is sure to engage young and old alike and will leave you humming the songs long after you leave the theater.  It’s an unconventional love story that is full of humour and poignant moments, and this is Vancouver’s premiere production!

For more information on Smackdown! and the upcoming production of Dogfight visit Awkward Stage Productions online at