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Arts & Culture

Playwright Bill Rosenfield discusses how 'True Fans' went from film to book to stage

Live Active Cultures

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2013:10:29 10:41:51

Despite his affection for the film, Rosenfield's "dirty little secret" is that "I'm not a basketball person, and I'm not a bicycle person. For me the play is very much like The Wizard of Oz; it's a journey play about self-discovery. … What I responded to [was] the idea of having a passion, learning from it and following it." Following his own passion has taken Rosenfield on a journey through the best of Broadway – a freelance gig coordinating CD reissue packaging turned into a 20-plus-year career as an executive producer overseeing the creation of more than 65 cast albums, including Assassins, The Who's Tommy and the recent revival of Hair. "I was very successful in choosing certain hit shows very early on and committing to them, and avoiding overhyped shows [that] look like they couldn't miss but always do. … The shows that I'm proudest of are the ones that wouldn't have gotten recorded otherwise, [like] Once on This Island [and] Songs for a New World." 

But despite his wealth of experience, realizing that he was "the oldest guy in the room" in a youth-oriented industry inspired Rosenfield, who had written scripts on the side for several years, to formally transition careers in 2011. "I'm going to leave this party before I stop being invited," he says he thought. "The only way for me to be taken seriously as a playwright is to say, ‘I'm not doing records anymore, I'm a playwright.'" Even so, he has no aspirations of going back to Broadway with the show. "My goal is to sell the stock and amateur rights. I don't view the play as a New York play; I view it as a regional and community theater play, because it's so minimal in its needs and fairly inexpensive to produce."

"It's an unusual story to have on stage, and I think that the way we're telling it is unusual and fun," Rosenfield concludes, comparing the play's layering of laughs with "something a little bit deeper" to a certain musical. "People should walk out of True Fans going, ‘Oh, it's just like The Book of Mormon, with less cursing!'"

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