PLAYBILL PLAYLIST: 35mm and Jasper in Deadland Composer Ryan Scott Oliver's Dark Days of Summer

By Playbill Staff
July 3, 2013

Composer-lyricist Ryan Scott Oliver, known for his dark and twisted musicals such as 35mm, Jasper in Deadland, Mrs. Sharp and Darling, will host Actor Therapy alongside Wicked's Lindsay Mendez July 8 at 54 Below. In anticipation of the concert, Oliver shares his "Dark Days of Summer" playlist as part of Playbill.com's Playbill Playlist series. 



The Actor Therapy concert will begin at 11:30 PM and feature performers from Mendez and Oliver's weekly Actor Therapy masterclass series, including Risa Dorken (world premiere of Disney's High School Musical), Bo Clark (Pericles at Circle in the Square Theatre), Stefanie Miller (Vital Theatre Company's Fancy Nancy), Noah Zachary (Off-Broadway's Dear Edwina), Melissa Castillo (Theatreworks USA's The Yellow Brick Road), Matthew Silva (Porch Light Productions' Little Shop of Horrors), Michael Gioia (5th Floor Productions' Urinetown), Alaina Fragoso (APAC's Gone Tomoro) and Nick Cox (Surflight Theatre's Les Misérables).

At Actor Therapy, audiences can expect to hear material that ranges from classical musical theatre to work by contemporary composers, pop artists and lyricists. 

Actor Therapy provides artists with a better "understanding of what it means to be an actor and song interpreter in New York" and has included appearances from Krysta Rodriguez (First Date), Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (A Christmas Story), casting directors and more.

Musical theatre composer-lyricist Oliver explores his darker side in his musicals Mrs. Sharp, based on the uncomfortably true story of the 1991 teacher-student sex scandal and murder trial surrounding Pamela Smart; Jasper in Deadland, in which 16-year-old Jasper travels into the afterlife to retrieve his best friend; Darling, which follows teenager Ursula Morgan, who leaves town with a boy on the run and is swept into the seedy underground; and more. Playbill.com asked Oliver to share his darkly inspirational songs and tell us why they made his list. 

54 Below is located at 254 W. 54th Street. There will be a $10 cover charge plus a two-drink minimum. For more information and tickets, visit 54Below.com.

 "Dumb Ways to Die." Sweet-eyed cartoon characters killing themselves? This fusion of cute, awful, easy and cautionary all in one had me at "use your private parts as piranha bait." 1:40 is the best. And then the TWIST at the END? It's what everything ought to be: brilliant, entertaining and useful. For further reading: "The Happy Tree Friends."

"Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These)" (Eurythmics) These sweet dreams sound so…sadistic? The sound world of this song is a very special place, and I want to go to there. And, Annie Lenox in this video as CEO of Scary Gingers Music Incorporated? My nightmares are booked for the next month…Slash sex dreams. For further reading: "You Spin Me Round," "Can't Get You Outta My Head."

 Opening Titles from "Beetlejuice." This opening sequence brings me back to my childhood when I couldn't understand half the jokes in this movie and felt I was…alone. No, no, utterly alone. This, "Jurassic Park," "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and "Brokeback Mountain" are the only movies I can watch tirelessly (what they have in common, I'm truly not sure). Maybe this is also why I wanna move to New England. For further reading: the opening of any Tim Burton-Danny Elfman film, especially "Edward Scissorhands."

"Cat People" by David Bowie (as used in "Inglorious Basterds"). So, I'm a huge Tarantino fan any day, but "Inglorious Basterds" is probably my favorite of his films. This sequence is so BAD ASS — and it's just a chick putting on make-up and getting ready. Granted, getting ready to kill Hitler, but still. The colors, the storytelling and, of course, Mr. Bowie's apropos song "Cat People" ("Putting Out the Fire with Gasoline"). For further reading: O-ren Ishii's entrance with her entourage in "Kill Bill."

"Kidnap the Sandy Claws" from "The Nightmare Before Chistimas." Here's the thing. This song is simply about three psychotic children vowing to kill Santa Claus. It's not that I LIKE that… but it's not that I DON'T like that, either. And, oh my holy key changes, this song deserves the medal for Most Upwardly Mobile alongside Beyonce's "Love on Top" and any ensemble number from Legally Blonde. Also, have you heard the KoRn version? You're welcome.

"Ave Maria" as used during the Butcher Knife/Cleaver battle in "Needful Things." (Viewer discretion is advised! ...Especially if you really love dogs. Start at 1:30, please.) The true meaning of horror is two women going at it with sharp objects and an intent to kill — and the Devil Himself orchestrating it. Personally, I think these would be good parts for Lindsay Mendez and Betsy Wolfe in the musical version. Am I right? Tell me I'm not right. For further reading: the Aria Scene in "Shawshank Redemption" (incidentally, another Stephen King property).

"Thriller" (Michael Jackson). Simply a perfect ten-minute musical. Sidenote: I love MJ's opening "personal convictions" … Amazing to think BELIEF IN THE OCCULT was his press rep's number one concern at the time. Related: the Thriller Drinking Game, where you take a shot every time your friend points out something ironic about the video and MJ's future.

"Dead Man's Party" (Oingo Boingo). Obviously, I really like Danny Elfman. What a great f*cking song. I want Alex Brightman to cover this. Yay claymation animatronics! Yay dancing! Yay… Rodney Dangerfield? For further reading: "Weird Science" and basically anything else by Oingo Boingo.

"Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen" from Mozart's The Magic Flute. I love a good rage aria. In this crazy Mozart-ian fairy tale, The Queen of the Night is screaming at her daughter to murder a man she knows to be good (Sarastro). She's basically threatening to disown her daughter if she doesn't commit murder, and she's not even kind of f*cking around. Check out my more-or-less accurate translation here.

"Enter Sandman" (Metallica). No, it's not Trey Parker and Matt Stone making fun of heavy metal, it's just Metallica. Matilda's stage manager should play this at five-minutes, you know, to get the kids in line.

"Dies Irae" from Mozart's "Requiem Mass." Reminds me of my alarm clock. For further reading: "O Fortuna" from Carmina Burana.

"The Mariner's Revenge Song" (The Decemberists). The Decemberists are a bunch of geniuses and this eight-and-a-half-minute song is worth everything. When my tuner 35mm was coming in a little under time-wise, this song reminded me that, "Why write 3 mediocre songs when you could write one really long good one?" And then Jay Armstrong Johnson was singing "Leave Luanne."