A musical exploration of our obsession with murder as entertainment, Wait Wait Don't Kill Me is a darkly comedic new musical satire inspired by the events surrounding the making of NPR's Serial podcast.
In 1998, young aspiring journalist Sarah Koenig works as a beat reporter for the Baltimore Sun. She desperately needs a scoop or she’s out of a job. Just a few miles down the road, honor student Hae Min Lee celebrates her prom night with Adnan Syed, her prom prince boyfriend. When Sarah's and Hae’s paths unexpectedly cross, the voices in Sarah’s head suggest this poor girl’s salacious murder could solve all her problems. Fifteen years later, when host of This American Life, Ira Glass, suggests Sarah turn the story of Hae’s murder into an engrossing podcast, Sarah is suddenly forced to re-examine old evidence and try to solve a murder she quite possibly committed. Soon Ira begins to suspect Sarah’s involvement in Hae’s death, setting them on a collision course that results in the nail-biting, Peabody-worthy drama only public radio can achieve.
Moving seamlessly between the 1998 timeline of the murder and the present day investigation, Wait Wait Don't Kill Me shines new, musical light on the making of the world’s most successful podcast and, in doing so, tackles and satirizes much larger questions about America's relationship to the media.
ABOUT THE CREATIVE TEAM
About the Show
+ Dave Holstein, Book
Dave Holstein is the creator of Showtime's new show, "Kidding," starring Jim Carrey and directed by Michel Gondry. He was also a writer and Co-Executive Producer on Showtime’s drama series, "I'm Dying Up Here." Before that he was a writer/producer on HBO’s comedy series, "The Brink," starring Tim Robbins and Jack Black. He was also a writer/producer on the final season FOX’s "Raising Hope" and before that spent six years as a writer/producer on Showtime’s "Weeds." He has written episodes for the Syfy horror anthology "Creepshow" and TeenNick’s groundbreaking series "Gigantic." He has also developed pilots for Comedy Central, Showtime, CBS and FOX, as well as feature films for Universal Pictures. As a playwright, Dave’s work has been performed in Edinburgh, Sydney, New York, Chicago and elsewhere. His musical adaptation of The Emperor's New Clothes (with Alan Schmuckler) for the Tony-winning Chicago Shakespeare Theatre received a National Alliance for Musical Theater grant and is published with Rodgers and Hammerstein Theatricals. His podcast musical Wait Wait Don't Kill Me received the Sarah Lawrence International Award for Audio Fiction, as well as a 2017 Webby Award. Dave was also a 2014 attendee of the Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals. He is a graduate of Northwestern University.
+ Alan Schmuckler, Music & Lyrics
In addition to Wait Wait Don't Kill Me, Alan Schmuckler wrote music and lyrics for Days Like Today (book by Laura Eason), a new musical inspired by three plays by Charles L. Mee; it was commissioned by Writers Theatre (Glencoe, IL) and received a critically acclaimed, sold-out and extended world premiere. Other music and lyrics: My Little Red/Green Coat (mylittleredgreencoat.com; NYMF “New Musicals, New Media”); The Emperor's New Clothes (book by Dave Holstein), which received a NAMT New Project Development grant, premiered at the Tony Award-winning Chicago Shakespeare Theater, has been produced nationally, in Sydney and in Paraguay, and is currently licensed by Rodgers and Hammerstein. With Michael Mahler, he co-wrote music and lyrics for The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series (book by Kevin Del Aguila), which premiered at Minneapolis' Children's Theatre Company, as well as book, music and lyrics for How Can You Run with a Shell on Your Back?, which premiered and remounted at Chicago Shakespeare Theater and has since been produced in theaters and schools nationwide and at the National Alliance for Music Theatre’s 21st Annual Festival of New Musicals. He co-developed an original musical series Boyfred for Shoe Money Productions, Sony Television and ABC. Alan has contributed music/lyrics to Second Fiddle (Greg Hildreth at 54 Below); Stars of David (DR2 Theatre); The 48 Hour Musicals (TMTC); and others. Concert credits include the Broadway’s Future Songbook series (Bruno Walter Auditorium at Lincoln Center), Alan Schmuckler: I Miss the City (Joe’s Pub), the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, as well as work at Symphony Space and 54 Below. He has been a writer-in-residence at the inaugural Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters' Project, at Goodspeed Musicals and at the Weston Playhouse. In early 2018, Alan was announced as one of the recipients of the prestigious Kleban Prize for musical theater lyricism for his work on Wait Wait Don't Kill Me. He's a proud graduate of Northwestern University and the School at Steppenwolf. He lives in New York. @alanschmuckler
+ Kevin Laibson, Director
Kevin Laibson is a Brooklyn-based director, producer, and improviser. As director of City Hall Sketch Comedy, he’s won 3 INNY New York Comedy awards for best sketch group, and headlined the New York City Sketch Festival with their acclaimed potato-puppet rock opera, Jesus Christ Tatertot. He also directed the podcast musical of Wait Wait Don't Kill Me, which received the Sarah Lawrence International Award for Audio Fiction, and a 2017 Webby Award. Other directing: Eliza Bent’s Toilet Fire: Rectums in the Rectory (Abrons Arts Center, JACK, Exponential Festival feat. Dave Malloy); Catya McMullen’s Fucking Jenny Schecter (Rattlestick Theater Jam); Dance School: School for Dance (The Flea); Simon’s Street (Upright Citizens Brigade NYC and LA), which was recently optioned for a pilot shooting this fall; Stuff Nobody Likes (F-it Club in residency at The New Ohio); The Pestilence is Coming – A Superfun New Musical About How You Will Probably Die! (Magic Futurebox, based on the album by The Minor Leagues); WE ARE ANIMALS (The Brick, feat. music composed and performed by Reel Big Fish’s Scott Klopfenstein); New Team Honeybear’s That’s Not a Play: A Play (The PIT); Alan Schmuckler: I Miss the City (Joe’s Pub); Summer/Winter at the Flatiron (Flatiron Plaza’s music/comedy concert series). His production of Tommy Smith’s Demon Dreams / Oni No Yume featuring an original score by DJ Spooky was nominated for 3 New York Innovative Theater Awards, including best direction and best production. Last summer, he directed the inaugural LAB series residency project at National Sawdust: South by South Death, Singer & Saltiel’s slasher rock musical. On camera, he directed Gianmarco Soresi’s one-hour stand-up comedy special, Infinite Bris, for EiM Productions to be released on major streaming platforms next year, and is a writer/producer for "The Birds and the BS," Jordan Roth’s comedy webseries. He is the producer and curator of Fridays on Ice, the late-night arm of The Ice Factory, the Obie-award winning experimental theater festival. Kevin is a former artistic director at The Peoples Improv Theater in Manhattan, and was the founding artistic director of Magic Futurebox in Sunset Park. He is a graduate of the New Actors Workshop.
+ Byron Easley, Choreography
Byron Easley most recently choreographed The Bubbly Black Girl for City Center Encores. Other credits include Unison (World Premiere), The Wiz and A Comedy of Errors for The Oregon Shakespeare Festival. New York credits include X (By Marcus Gardley; New York Premiere), The Tempest (Harlem Classical Theatre), A Band of Angels (2015 Off-Broadway Alliance Award for Best Family Show), Langston in Harlem (SDC’s Joe A. Callaway Award and an Audelco Award). Nominated for the 2015 Helen Hayes Award for Choreography in Arena Stage’s production of Five Guys Named Moe. Other honors include Suzi Bass Awards for the Alliance Theatre’s productions of Jelly’s Last Jam and Sophisticated Ladies. Byron is an associate arts professor at NYU/Tisch School of the Arts.
+ Madeline Smith, Musical Director
Madeline Smith is a New York-based music director, arranger, and conductor. Favorite recent endeavors include conducting Waitress and Ragtime on Ellis Island as well as developing the EDM musical Nikola Tesla Drops the Beat and the Broadway-bound production of Frozen. Off-Broadway MD credits include Skin of Our Teeth (Theatre for a New Audience), 1001 Nights (Atlantic Theater Company), The Light Princess (ART/New Victory Theater), Futurity (Soho Rep/Ars Nova), and An Octoroon (Theatre for a New Audience). TV: The Wiz! Live (NBC). B.A.
+ Production History
MAC produced an industry reading of Wait Wait Don't Kill Me on November 10, 2017 at 3pm in NYC.
Directed by Kevin Laibson
Staging by Byron Easley, with assistance by Lauren EJ Hamilton
Musical Direction by Madeline Smith
Cast Morgan Weed (American Psycho), Annie Golden (Violet), Larry Owens (Gigantic), Greg Hildreth (Frozen), Nehal Joshi (School of Rock), Renee Abulario, Imari Hardon, Anthony Jackson, Alyse Alan Louis, and Bonnie Milligan
+ Awards & Accolades
2018 Kleban Prize for Musical Theater Writing - Alan Schmuckler
Wait Wait Don't Kill Me Podcast
2017 Webby Award - Best Sound Design / Original Music Score
2017 Sarah Lawrence College International Audio Fiction Award from Harvard University. MadelineASmith.com