Angela Walberg, Gabriele Angieri and Annette Kurek.
Photo by Jim Aherns
After working on the musical Junk Song for seven years, Meg Lambert isn't about to let any last-minute technical glitches or cast issues stop her momentum.
The show is more than a labor of love for the playwright. Her family's legacy is tied up in it as well. Self-producing a show is expensive, and Lambert didn't know how to finance it. "My mother died and left me $22,000 and that is what I've used to put it up," she says.
The inspiration came more than two decades ago at a family garage sale. "It was very bizarre," Lambert says.
After watching the proceedings for a bit, Lambert said to her niece, "this should be a play."
"A musical," her niece replied. The niece, Becka Linder, is heavily involved in the show. The veteran actor (she was Flo in the recent Girl Group) and director isn't the only family member Lambert brought in for the show. She is also working with her brother, Tom Cowgill, who is a composer.
The play centers on a woman married to a hoarder. "She is going to save her marriage by selling all this stuff. What she finds is the baggage of her past, and her relationships, and her mother. It's also about American materialism," Lambert says.
Through the years, the piece has taken a turn in town. "When I started out, I wanted a really light dinner-theater comedy," Lambert says. "Both my brother and I come from a difficult childhood. When he came in, he brought all his anger and depth. We had to meld those two things."
The two had been estranged at the time Lambert enlisted Cowgill to write music. "We didn't know each other. He left when I was three years old. We've gotten to know each other much better," Lambert says. "And with my niece as the director, I've gotten to know her on a completely different level."
Comments from an earlier staged reading noted that it wasn't clear if the musical was a drama or a comedy. "Instead of going one way or the other, we tried to make it one of those things where it is both. It is the absurd comical things that happen in life that are sad and tragic. It is those moments where you want to laugh, but you are uncomfortable laughing," Lambert says.
"I treated the play almost as a screw. It starts out as a light musical comedy and it turns every scene and song. It gets a little darker and deeper until by the end of the play you have a completely different thing," Lambert adds.
Beyond that, there have been the usual challenges of self-producing a play, from finding a venue to getting the word out about the production. No matter the struggles, Lambert was going to see the process through until the end.
"I finish everything I start, and I don't think a play is done until it has gone up. That's my thing," she says.
7:30 p.m. Friday-July 27 (Friday's performance is sold out)
1517 Central Ave. NE, Minneapolis
For tickets, visit here. For more information, visit the Upscale Theatre website.