Former Juneauite Aaron Badilla, top center, co-wrote and co-produced a new musical heavily inspired by Juneau that’s set to premiere in New York City in July. The play received help from Badilla’s friends from Juneau James Raymond Rosales, top left, Franz Felkl, top right, Phil Derbesy, bottom left, and a co-writer and co-producer Molly Shimko. (Courtesy Photos | Aaron Badilla)

Former Juneauite Aaron Badilla, top center, co-wrote and co-produced a new musical heavily inspired by Juneau that’s set to premiere in New York City in July. The play received help from Badilla’s friends from Juneau James Raymond Rosales, top left, Franz Felkl, top right, Phil Derbesy, bottom left, and a co-writer and co-producer Molly Shimko. (Courtesy Photos | Aaron Badilla)

Juneauite turned playwright wants help getting his show on stage

It’s been accepted to a New York City festival, but making it happen needs some crowd support

When Aaron Badilla found out his play was accepted to be performed during a New York City theater festival, he was excited but that was soon tempered by a hefty dose of first-time worries.

The former Juneauite turned Brooklyn-based playwright said the reality of bringing his musical “The Fling LP” to stage set in fairly quickly.

“It’s a little bit scary for sure,” Badilla said during an interview with the Capital City Weekly. “I’m definitely a little bit scared, but I’m also trying to see it as an opportunity. There’s all these skills and this knowledge of producing a show and writing that I just don’t have, and it’s like I can just take this crash course on figuring out how to make a show.”

The musical inspired by Juneau is set to premiere July 16 during New York Theater Festival Summerfest 2019 and is Badilla’s first go-round as a co-writer and co-producer of a play.

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Badilla said Molly Shimko, his co-producer, co-writer and fellow Boston Conservatory at Berklee graduate, has been a major help with getting over some of the learning curve, but there are other challenges to overcome.

The 90-minute show tells the story of a group of friends and a faithful cat, Christopher, navigating their first post-high school summer and tracking the aftermath of the group of friends finding themselves in new geographic and emotional territory.

“In a lot of ways, it’s a little bit of a love letter to my home,” Badilla said.

The title for the musical comes from a song, “I Am The Fling,” which was among a handful of songs Badilla and his friends wrote after high school.

Financing the show is another significant hurdle Badilla, a member of the Juneau Douglas high School: Yadaa.at Kalé class of 2009, discovered once the show was accepted.

“I hadn’t sat down and done a budget for it yet, but when I did, I was like, ‘OK, if I really want to do this thing well, it’s going to take a chunk of change, and I’m probably going to have to do quite a bit of fundraising to get there.’”

He’s hoping an IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign to help finance the production that was launched April 1 can help with that. So far, three backers have raised $325 of its $7,500 goal.

Some other, New York-based fundraising ideas are also in the works.

“I’m hoping after that to maybe do a couple of other fundraisers to get a little bit more money, mostly so I can pay the actors a little bit more,” Badilla said. “I’m still trying to figure out what that will be — maybe a small concert of the songs somewhere.”

Badilla has been keeping the handful of his friends from Juneau who inspired the show appraised of the play and its progress.

“The core of the show is about creating together, and also the music I created with a bunch of my friends after we graduated from JDHS in 2009,” Badilla said. “We spent the summer hanging out writing songs. It’s cool because we still have those songs we can listen to and be transported back to Juneau and remember those feelings of home and youth.”

Juneau friends who contributed to the music are James Raymond Rosales, Phil Derbesy and Franz Felkl, and the play will feature the acting talents of former Juneauite Robert Newman.

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“James Rosales, Phil Derbesy and Franz Felkl have also helped in the creative process of the play as well as the original songs,” Badilla said. “Phil provided a lot of constructive feedback on the script, while James and Franz have consulted on the new arrangements of the songs that are being written for the show, Franz with violin parts and James with guitar parts.”

The play will be performed three times during the festival in a theater that seats 99, but Badilla is hoping it has a life beyond those performances.

While there are no plans for a Juneau production, Badilla said it’s something that would make him happy.

“I think that would be amazing,” Badilla said. “I would love to do that.”


• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.


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