A Note from Writer Andy Mientus
NOV 8, 2018
In the spring of 2008, a buddy of mine stopped a college house party cold when he announced casually that he’d be dead in four years. Alarmed, I pulled him aside and asked him if he was thinking of harming himself or hiding some illness or addiction. Calmly, he told me no, that we would all be dead, because the apocalypse was coming on December 21, 2012.
That fall, at my 22nd birthday party, I met Van Hughes in a bathtub as I went to make sure a friend was vomiting in the toilet rather than the bidet as instructed. (She failed the task.)
In the time between that spring college party and my birthday in the fall, my father died suddenly, and I dropped out of school to go on the road with a musical. I wasn’t making very much money, but it was just enough to afford my very worst behavior.
I know now that I was grieving, but at the time, I felt that I was making the most of the ticking time bomb I had inherited from generations past. Immediate pleasure was far more reliable than long-term goals because we could be gone at any moment. Friends and lovers seemed more appealing than family because you could always get more friends and lovers.
I put all of this anxiety and revelry into a collection of disparate scenes with some tuneless poems purely to have some place to put it. Not much remains from those messy first sketches except an idea that a story about youth and nightlife should be told with the music of youth and nightlife—not a theatrical approximation of those sounds, but the real thing. It wasn’t a revolutionary idea, but a return to form. In the Golden Age, you would hear “Hey There” in The Pajama Game onstage and then go home and hear it on the radio. When musicals were at the zenith of their popularity, there was no divide between “pop” and “show tunes.” I thought of the boy in the bathtub.
I Facebooked Van, who happened to know and sometimes write with a synth-pop band, Teen Commandments. They agreed to try writing a couple of songs. It was the first instance of inexplicable serendipity that has led us here, tonight, to you.
Thankfully, December 2012 came and went without incident, but I wish I could say I felt more optimistic about what lies ahead for us all. Since then, the Earth has gotten warmer, the phones have gotten smarter, the bombs reach further, and our politics have gotten uglier. But tonight, in this space where theater and nightlife mesh (more serendipity), we have a show for you.
In its creation over many years, Burn All Night has brought me inspiring friends and collaborators, newfound passion for what has always made this genre magical, and best of all, forgiveness and even affection for that younger, messier me. People make mistakes when they are scared. It’s not the end of the world.