Freak Out: The Musical

An all original psychedelic-horror-rock musical, using life-sized puppets, written by Ryan Cassavaugh (book and lyrics) and Joe Knapp (music), “Freak Out” tells the story of two counter-culture bikers in the late 1960s on a voyage to discover the real America, who find themselves embroiled with a devilish cult trying to take over the world!

Joe, Sadie, and I sincerely want to thank everyone who voted for “Freak Out: The Musical.” It has been, by far, the most artistically rewarding venture of my life. When I first came up with the story idea for a 1960s rock-and-roll horror musical for our life-sized puppets, I knew it was an undertaking almost too big for us to handle; I had a choice between putting the idea aside or enlisting the help of all the people I knew who could make this project come to life and, thankfully, I chose the latter.  

First was to make sure my wife, Sadie Cassavaugh, was even willing to direct the show and oversee the construction of the fleet of new puppets we would need to design and build. She would be the brains and vision; it could not be done with out her. Next, I knew I had to get Joe Knapp on board for music; no one else I could think of would be able to create the kind of 60s stylized rock-and-roll sound needed for the project. Joe and I spent many hours going over the lyrics, discussing what kind of musical style we wanted for each piece, and then trying different arrangements and tunes until we hit on just what the show required. We had an unbelievable band (Joe Knapp, Garrett Robinson, Dan Haywood, and myself) who worked 2-3 nights a week for months working out the arrangements and practicing the songs until they were second nature.

In another stroke of serendipitous luck, we managed to get every actor and musician we wanted for the parts on board. It was a large, unwieldy, and incredibly weird concept for a play; it needed people who could comprehend its strangeness and throw themselves into it head first. It’s not just about a willingness to perform the parts, but an understanding of what was needed to make the parts work for the show. The cast (Ryan Lawrence Flynn, Pol Llovet, Steven Harris-Weiel, Ty Gardner, Sadie Cassavaugh, Wren Garverick, Leandra Hill, Leyla Osman-Kirschner, and Harry Jahnke with Harry Schwem, Jesse Matthews, Kyle Sporenson) designed and built the puppets, built the set and props, and worked tirelessly in vocal rehearsals, band rehearsals, dance rehearsals, theater rehearsals, and studio time to record the soundtrack.

We enlisted the help of artists Jade Lowder and the ever-fantastic Marla Goodman to help paint and build set pieces and props, Matt Cameron to design the logo and poster, Stephanie Peterson for choreography help, Ryan Schmitt, Brian Ripple and David Green for lights and sound. They all went above what was asked of them. Everyone at the Verge Theater stood behind a completely unknown project and said “go ahead and give it a try.” No matter how weird the project got, they trusted in our ideas, and for that we are eternally grateful.

Everyone involved spent countless hours working and shaping the show, despite not being sure anyone would want to see it. Luckily, and quite surprisingly for us, people did, and what’s more - they liked it! Sometimes taking a big chance pays off. We can not thank you enough, Bozeman; you are awesome!

We are beyond excited to remount the show in May at the gorgeous Rialto Theater with bigger sound and a more visually complex light show. We hope to see everyone there!

Ryan Cassavaugh is 1/3 of the Freak Out creation team, find him at Cactus Records, telling jokes as a standup comedian, or at the Verge.