As funny as he is irreverent, Drew Droege (Drunk History, Key & Peele) stars in Bright Colors, Bold Patterns, now available on BroadwayHD. Directed for the stage by Michael Urie, the story follows the rambling comedy of Gerry, who just trying to navigate the dress code at a wedding plus his own gay community. We sat down with Drew to talk about writing the show, starring in it, and what his favorite bright colors and bold patterns actually are.
What inspired you to write BCBP? Would you call it auto biographical in any sense?
I received an invitation to a straight wedding asking the guests to "please avoid bright colors or bold patterns". My friends really wanted a neutral palate at their wedding, but the phrase "bright colors or bold patterns" instantly jumped out to me as a title of something.
Shortly thereafter, gay marriage become legalized and while that was of course a wonderful thing, I was struck by how immediately queer culture embraced this heteronormative institution and its confines. I thought, "what if a gay wedding asked guests to avoid bright colors or bold patterns?" In the name of equality, what are we losing or scrubbing from ourselves? And I wanted to create my dream role - a loud, unapologetic, drunk mess who's hiding a bit of pain, but also undeniably both bright AND bold. Some of it is autobiographical, and some is totally fabricated - Gerry is the most personal character I've ever written, but I'm more boring than he is.
What was your process in creating the "dialogue"?
I just started writing his rants and wouldn't let myself hit delete until all of it was on the page. Then I put them together and made cuts and tried to shape it into something usable. My first director, Molly Prather, helped me tremendously with the writing. I will never forget reading it out loud for the first time in her house and it was just a lot of screaming! She was instrumental in shaving and punching up my material.
Then I went and figured out what the other characters were saying and how I would respond to them. I love that the audience gets to imagine how the other three people are reacting to me. Sometimes it's important to know what they say, sometimes it's not.
What viewpoints do you hope to enforce or change with this show?
I don't know if I want to enforce or change anything as much as keep queerness and otherness and diversity in our community. I think we should be able to get married or not get married. I think we should listen to our elders and to the children. We have to know our history and also be open to new ideas and expressions. We must be bright and bold and celebrate that in each other and ourselves.
For all of the soon to be brides and grooms out there, what actually makes for a good wedding?
I have never married nor been close to it, but I think the best weddings are personal and specific. I've gone to a beautiful giant gay celebration that was both Jewish and Buddhist featuring a unicorn ring bearer, and I've attended a small quiet ceremony on the beach. Both felt so incredibly right, because of the two people being feted. And you need good food, decent wine, and short speeches from the father of the groom!
What guidance did Michael Urie provide throughout process?
Michael came to a workshop of the show and instantly saw a full production in his head. He envisioned the set and helped build a fleshed-out world and play. And he's a brilliant actor who's done many many performances of a solo show himself, so he gave excellent advice on how to play each moment and how to sustain it night after night for a long run. He's also hilarious with an indispensable sense of pace and timing and energy. And he's a good friend - we trust each other and we laughed a lot.