Last week, Trop social media master Patrick Benjamin complained to our readership that the three-dimensional and ever-perplexing joke of a “musical” that is Sweatpants Wedding had gone on far too long. (Sweatpants Wedding is a play that will never be completed and therefore is manifesting itself in the form of a making-of Sweatpants type thing, which you are reading right now; yes, what you’re reading now counts as reading; click to read earlier installments because clicking is easy.) Patrick’s complaint was a problem partly because his publicly expressed opinion didn’t generate much traffic, partly because it’s just plain demoralizing when your own in-house booster gets tired of you, and partly because Patrick said this after only installment four, and Sweatpants Wedding is set to run weekly until deep into 2014.
And then also there was the issue on Saturday night of a Trop fan who revealed that she’d diligently read all four installments, but still “didn’t know what the whole thing was about.” This, I’ll admit, dealt a blow to my confidence. I uttered meekly, “It’s about weddings and sweatpants.” She replied, “Who’s the other guy you’re writing this with? Stephan something? Whatever he has to say, I’m with him.”
Some say there’s nowhere to go but up, but people who say that don’t realize that many of us fail to recognize where exactly “up” is.
So where do we go from here? Down? I’m not sure, but Jake de Grazia interviewed me about my own play in an effort to get to the bottom of its infinite depths. Last week we ran some of that interview, and, well, Jake failed in his endeavor; his interview got to the bottom of only nothing. So this week we’re forced to run more, in order to give Jake another chance. Thank you, Jake; Sincerely, Tom.
JAKE DE GRAZIA: Sweatpants Wedding has problems. It’s taking too long and nobody knows what it’s about. Whose fault is this?
TOM DIBBLEE: Stephan McCormick’s.
JDG: Who is Stephan McCormick?
TD: He’s the guy who’s writing the thing. I had the idea, but he’s the writer, because I don’t know how to write music.
JDG: That we’ve established in the earlier installments in this series. What I want to know is: Who is Stephan McCormick?
TD: I see. You want more detail. Stephan was a man about town in Milledgeville. He was a drinking buddy and friend. I casually mentioned to him that I had the idea of a lifetime, and he ran with it. In so doing, Sweatpants Wedding came to be not only dependent on Stephan, but Stephan’s play altogether. Stephan is the author of Sweatpants Wedding.
JDG: What does that make you?
TD: A friend of the project who happened to have the original idea and won’t go away? Does that sound fair to me or am I selling myself short?
JDG: I’m more worried about Stephan, actually.
JDG: Had you not met Stephan, what would have happened to Sweatpants Wedding?
TD: Had I not met Stephan, I would have talked about Sweatpants Wedding until I died, and that would have been enough. But being that I met him, and being that he started to work on it, the seal became broken; it couldn’t stay one of those projects you talk about forever. Once we started talking about it, the vision became too intoxicating for us to turn away from. And we did try to turn away from it. We tried to let it go multiple times, and we couldn’t. Stephan wrote six songs with choruses and dancing and everything. But we had no script, and I had something like two weeks left before I moved away from Milledgeville, and the play was just too big of an animal for two weeks of prep time. So, we let it go. Then Stephan moved to LA and we thought we could just rent a theater and put it on out here. As these things go, though, Stephan needed a real job, so we couldn’t devote our lives to Sweatpants and it disappeared again. The next plan was to make it an audio play on Trop, and all we needed—all we needed—was for Stephan to show up at your house [Jake’s house] and give two to three hours of his time and be willing to play an acoustic guitar and sing and answer your questions about what was supposed to be happening on stage. I can’t remember why that didn’t work though. He had some reason why it wasn’t going to work that way.
JDG: I know the reason.
TD: What was it?
JDG: He didn’t have his acoustic guitar with him.
TD: He didn’t have his acoustic guitar with him. It was back home in Georgia.
JDG: I offered to lend him an acoustic guitar. He did not accept the offer. And I am now trying to find him because I want to interview him and possibly get him excited about the audio play idea again but, if nothing else, get him to tell the story to the microphone so it’s not forever lost. But, he won’t return my texts or emails. What do you think’s going on?
TD: Stephan’s become a Hollywood man, Jake. Perhaps he doesn’t have time for us anymore. (pause) Actually, did you know Sweatpants Wedding was Stephan’s ticket to Hollywood?
JDG: I did not know that.
TD: Tell him I said that: Sweatpants Wedding was Stephan McCormick’s ticket to Hollywood. That’s exactly right. (gathering steam) Ok, I’m ready Jake. Here’s Sweatpants Wedding’s official history: We’re in Milledgeville, Georgia. We’re putting on this series of hit performances at the Metropolis Cafe. We start working on Sweatpants Wedding, and basically we write something that’s not only too big for Metropolis, but too big for the entire Southeast. It’s a play idea so big that we need the full resources of the nation’s arts and entertainment capital. I’m telling Stephan this and then I move to LA so I’m like, hey, Stephan, if you come to LA your life will get better and easier. Meanwhile Stephan’s tooling around with Sweatpants Wedding. He gets a few ideas about his ability to write for the stage and/or screen. And bam, two years later, Stephan is a bonafide Hollywood man.
TD: Really. He’s in Oahu right now wondering where his assistant producer is. That’s what Stephan does. He goes to Oahu and wonders where his assistants are.
JDG: So with respect to Stephan, you’d say the sweats made the man.
TD: I think Stephan became a Hollywood man via Sweatpants Wedding. But I think he had it in him before that. He was Marietta High School’s number one rock star. He won all the Battle of the Bands-type competitions they had.
JDG: If that’s the case, maybe it makes sense that he’s afraid to get back into Sweatpants Wedding. Maybe it makes sense he’s afraid to have an acoustic guitar in the house. He’s afraid of getting sucked back into that life. He’s afraid of being a rock star, afraid that becoming a Hollywood man and then producing Sweatpants Wedding will push him over the edge.
TD: Because it’s his destiny.
JDG: Yes, his destiny.
TD: We should entice him. Sweatpants Wedding needs to offer something to Stephan that it’s not offering now, aside from money.
JDG: Money’s not an option?
TD: We’re not going to get money for this. It’s not in the grant app. Sweatpants Wedding is not in the grant application.
JDG: All I need is an interview. I need thirty minutes of Stephan.
TD: How do you get a Hollywood man to submit to thirty minutes?
JDG: It can’t be that hard. We’re in Hollywood right now, as we speak.
TD: We can offer to let him out of the project.
JDG: That might be extreme.
TD: I don’t know. This could be the mystery that hooks into the next piece.
JDG: That works for me.
As promised last week, words and insight from McCormick himself are coming soon in The Weather…
Jake de Grazia is Trop's Musical Theater Correspondent.