Matthew McConaughey’s controversial rise to acting stardom is the subject of a soon-to-be produced musical written by 2007 Woodinville High School graduate Emilie Landmann.
“Matthew McConaughey vs. the Devil” features songs such as “Weed Ballet” and “Alright, Alright, Alright” and tells the Faustian tale of its protagonist’s dubious journey toward winning an Oscar. How did he do it? By making a deal with the devil.
“It’s kind of an alternate universe Matthew McConaughey,” Landmann said.
The musical, written by Landmann and two others, Carrie Morgan and Jon Quesenberry, was recently picked to appear at the New York Musical Festival this July. It’s one of only 20 shows chosen.
Landmann and her two partners started working on the project in 2015. “I remember thinking, ‘How did he get an Oscar?’” Landmann said. “It’s so weird looking at his filmography.”
McConaughey has a varied film history, riddled with rom-com flops, some mildly successful movies and a few occasional hits. He won his Academy Award for his role in “Dallas Buyers Club” in 2014.
When asked what she’d say to McConaughey if she had the chance to talk to him about the musical, Landmann laughed. “We’d ask him to audition for us. We couldn’t guarantee a part but we’d happily see him,” she said. “And thank him for all his inspiration for our work.”
Landmann’s team submitted their script to the New York Musical Festival with low expectations.
“It was a very long shot,” Landmann said. “This is where a lot of Broadway shows got their start. When I got the email that we were finalists, I threw my phone across the room.”
The festival is a huge step for all three writers. It’s a chance for producers, agents, and others in the Broadway and Off-Broadway industry to see their work.
Aside from a few one-act plays during high school and college, this is the first full-length piece Landmann has written. She’s mostly an actor, for Shakespeare in the Park and other productions around Portland where she currently lives. When not acting or writing, Landmann teaches preschool.
“Now I know this is something I can do,” she said. “I even want to try my hand at writing screenplays and television sitcoms.”
Landmann will arrive in New York in June to help cast and rehearse for the show. “We’re going to be in the room doing a lot of rewrites and watching and learning from all these other professionals,” she said.
The team has already chosen a director, New York-based Kristin McCarthy Parker, known most recently for “Puffs” and “The Weekend Detectives.”
After the musical is produced at the festival, Landmann said they will take steps toward licensing the show in order to produce it elsewhere. “We really want to bring it back to the Pacific Northwest,” she said.
Many of the shows appearing at the New York Musical Festival in July are fully funded by producers. But Landmann and her two partners are newbies on the New York scene. “We’re three young artists who are working in our 20s,” she said.
While the festival does not provide any monetary assistance, it does provide support in finding staff and creative teams, spaces for rehearsing and other resources.
The team needs to raise about $80,000 on their own in order to pay the 12 actors, six band members, and additional crew at least minimum wage.
“It’s awesome for artists, because a lot of times artists don’t get paid for their work,” Landmann said. “It’s not even really an investment in the show. It’s an investment in us.”
To donate to help cover production costs of “Matthew McConaughey vs. the Devil,” visit matthewmcconaugheyvsthedevil.com. Clips from the musical’s staged reading in Portland can also be seen at the show’s website. For more information about New York Musical Festival, visit nymf.org.