Y’all remember “Tiger King”?
I, and 64 million other households, do. With its kitsch and camp characters, “Tiger King,” more officially known as the “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness” Netflix series, tells the unlikely story of tiger “enthusiasts” Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin. As viewers sat in an unprecedented, pandemic-induced lock-down, “Tiger King” gave us a chance to focus on something absolutely kooky, crazy and campy.
Music, Theatre & Dance freshmen Nathan Goldberg and Jack Weaver, however, took “Tiger King’s” vision and ran with it. One year later, “King of the Tigers: A Tiger King Musical” is ready to be brought into the world. That’s right, people: a musical. (Now, Megan Thee Stallion might have some competition for the best incorporation of Carole Baskin into a song).
Nevertheless, The Daily was lucky enough to (virtually) sit down with this new creative duo to hear about how Goldberg and Weaver created a musical out of sheer will and an excess of source material.
“We were captivated by these real, over-the-top people who were begging to be brought to the stage,” Goldberg said. “I related to a lot of them by the fact that they were all egotistical and were looking for a stage.”
Weaver added: “And as an actor myself, I knew I had to write a show about this.”
After pitching their sequel to the “Tiger King” docuseries to the student playwright resource center, Blank Space Workshop, Weaver and Goldberg were offered the position of Playwrights-in-Residency at Blank Space to further develop their piece. At the start of 2021, Goldberg and Weaver started workshopping.
“After the first rehearsal, we felt really discouraged,” Weaver said. “While having the opportunity to work with other theater artists is a chance to see the piece come alive, it also can reveal flaws in a script that may have been passed over or forgotten. But our collaborators pushed us to make the best thing we could and brought up plot holes and inconsistencies.”
By working with peers, Goldberg and Weaver were able to create a piece that brought more value and cohesiveness to the musical.
“Everyone in our workshop had some hand in the final production,” Goldberg said. “It’s a collaborative process, and you can’t do it by yourself … you shouldn’t do it by yourself. Do it with the people you love and make some friends along the way.”
Luckily, there is a goal in sight: This fall “King of The Tigers: A Tiger King Musical” is set to premiere with Basement Arts, a University of Michigan student-run theatre organization, and Goldberg and Weaver could not be more thrilled.
“The first live show the University of Michigan will see in a while and that excites me,” Weaver said.
Goldberg added: “I’m excited for opening night, with a cast of new collaborators.”
The duo is looking forward to the fall and, personally, so am I. With the possible return of live theatre, I can return to my favorite past-time: making excuses for why I don’t want to go out. But for those who can’t wait until the fall to quench their dying need for bleach blonde mullets and tiger puns, one might find solace in the 17-minute teaser Goldberg and Weaver released this past Saturday.
Goldberg described it as “15 minutes of condensed Tiger King,” consisting of the abridged first act of “King of The Tigers,” starting off where the original series ended.
They ask, “What would happen if we put two mortal enemies, stuck and confident, into one room?” Weaver replies, “They tango, apparently!”
For now my kool kats and kittens, I bid you adieu, but not without providing you all the necessary info to find “King of The Tigers” online and at the right time. With an album already on Youtube/Spotify, a TikTok and an Instagram, I’m just waiting for you to “pounce” at the opportunity.
Daily Arts Writer Matthew Eggers can be reached at email@example.com.