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The Blazer

Branson’s student-run newspaper
Branson School News, Sports, Life and Opinion

The Blazer

Branson School News, Sports, Life and Opinion

The Blazer

Vaughn writes new theatre production “The Devil’s Dating Service”

The cover for the Devil’s Dating Service. Maura Vaughn was key in producing the show.

“The Devil’s Dating Service” is too good a name to not write a musical about. Branson students had the opportunity to spend their Martin Luther King Jr. Day evening at the read-through of the comedic musical written by drama teacher Maura Vaughn with music and lyrics by composer and former Branson music teacher Alexander Eccles.

The musical explores the ridiculous reality of a dating app directly from hell.

“We all agree that [dating apps are] an absurd way to meet someone. It isn’t effective until you become who you really are and leave the brand [we make on our profiles] behind,” Vaughn said.

“This story is about the struggle that each individual has: They have that benevolent person who wants to be liked. They have that selfish, self-interested person who just wants it their own way. They have that person who is caught in between these two extremes and is just trying to find out ‘Who the heck am I?’”

In the show, the benevolent, selfish and torn parts of a human are physicalized by allegorical spirits. They have their own desires and enjoy playing with the people in the “real-world” who are trying to find love on dating apps. “And because it’s a musical, lots of them fall in love,” said Vaughn.

Vaughn has been working on this show for “a number of years” now, but the project came as a surprise to her. When Eccles asked her for help on a musical, she expected to be handed a script she could give feedback on. Instead, he told her about an idea he had for a musical and asked her to be the writer.

“We worked on that and we learned a lot from the process,” said Vaughn. “That’s not this musical. But because of that musical, we came up with an idea for looking at modern love.”

So, they started writing a musical around the title Eccles loved: “The Devil’s Dating Service.”

On Jan. 15, actors in San Francisco gathered on UCSF’s campus to rehearse for a few hours before reading from the script in front of an audience. Vaughn said that she learned more from watching how the actors rehearsed and interacted with the script at first glance than she did from the actual performance.

A lot of the audience comments she got at the end were asking to know more about certain characters, but Vaughn said, “Musicals are too expensive … Every line is a piece of real estate” and at the end of the day, musicals have a time limit. So, in rehearsal, she got to consider what real estate to invest in more and which characters and moments were just taking up space.

The biggest thing that Vaughn said has to revise is the complexity and difficulty of music. She thinks that some of the music in the show is superb, but can only be realistically sung by a Broadway actor. Eccles wants the show to go to Broadway, but Vaughn has aspirations for the piece closer to home.

“I want people to be able to do this show and enjoy it, and enjoy doing it,” she said. “I would love to do it here [at Branson], but I cannot do it here with the way the songs are written right now. No student could sing this.”

Vaughn said that she will keep working at it and try to bring it to Branson as an incredible learning opportunity for anyone in the acting or music programs.

“I want to go through a series of rewrites, fight with the two songs I feel like really don’t work yet, and then do the same kind of reading with a little more rehearsal time with the students here.”

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