He was the theater teacher and director at Booker's Visual and Performing Arts High School for 22 years, has directed shows at nearly every theatre house on the Suncoast, has won so many awards, we don't have room to list them here, and now he is working on a brand new project called On the Roof featuring the music of Carole King and James Taylor to open at the Venice Theatre in January.
Join Amanda Schlachter and Robyn Bell on this week's Suncoast Culture Club podcast as they interview the incomparable Scott Keys in a quest to find his story, passions, and inspirations. What you will find is the end of one era is the beginning of another!
Come along and join the club!
• Venice Theatre Website & Facebook & Instagram & YouTube & Twitter & Trip Advisor
• The Players Centre for the Performing Arts Website & Facebook & Instagram & YouTube
• Booker VPA Website
• SCF Theatre Program Website & Facebook Page & Instagram
• Manatee Performing Arts Center Website & Facebook & Twitter & YouTube
• Asolo Repertory Theatre Website & Facebook & Instagram & YouTube
Robyn Bell: I am pleased to welcome my co-host, Amanda Schlachter back to the mic. Amanda, welcome.
Amanda Schlachter: Thank you. It's good to be here, Robyn.
Robyn Bell: We decided that our next guest is so important to our Suncoast cultural community, that it would take both of us to talk to him, to get the whole story. He retired from Booker High School last year after 22 years in public education as a theater teacher director, and finally as chair of the theater department at the renowned Booker Visual and Performing Arts High School. He has just completed serving as the interim artistic director for the Player Center, and here are some of his many accomplishments. He won the Oscar Hammerstein Fellowship for distinguished writing, the 2008 2009 teacher of the year at Booker High School. He was nominated by Broadway World as the Arts Educator of the Decade in Sarasota. He is on the board of the Florida Theater Conference and just received from them the Distinguished Award. For outstanding contribution to high school theater education. Wow. He has directed over 150 plays, which Amanda is 150 more than I have done and musicals in professional, civic, and educational theaters throughout the country. He's directed locally for F S T, the Sarasota Players, the Manatee players, the Venice Theater, and Booker High School. Whew. , we haven't even hit the tip of the iceberg and I am exhausted. Scott. Keys, welcome to the club.
Scott Keys: That's why I retired.
Robyn Bell: Right.
Scott Keys: I'm exhausted too. That that mile. When I hear that, I'm like, oh, I guess I did do all of that. But yeah. ,
Robyn Bell: when it's coming at you, you don't, maybe in the moment you're not. Okay, thanks. I got a show to get back to you though,
Scott Keys: right? That's absolutely. I'm like, yeah, when's my next rehearsal? That's what I care about.
Robyn Bell: So . Yeah. Well, I have to say, I've been here since 2009 in this area, and I've heard your name floated around. Scott Keys. Scott Keys. Scott Keys, and I'm embarrassed that this is the first time that we've got to meet. But I want to thank Amanda for bringing you on and I'm gonna let her. Sort of lead through this and I'm gonna sit here and enjoy it. If I have any questions, I'm gonna interrupt.
Scott Keys: That's fine.
Robyn Bell: That's what I do. Best's
Scott Keys: jump in. Alright, jump in,
Robyn Bell: Amanda. Great. Introduce me to Scott Keys.
Amanda Schlachter: Well, thank you Robyn. Well, Scott, I'm thrilled to be here with you. And you know, I was thinking about this in preparation for this podcast. And so in my household, so my partner, boyfriend, um, I like partner, he likes boyfriend, whatever, . Um, anyway, and uh, but we always say about Sarasota cause we're both in the arts. We always say whenever we get a project, oh, you're working with Sarasota? Theater royalty, . And so in preparation, I was like, Scott Keys is theater royalty.
Scott Keys: Ah-huh. .
Amanda Schlachter: And I remember years ago, I think the first time I saw you perform, you were doing something with Annie Morrison, and it was the company that she had created after Kaleidoscope, where the adults with developmental disabilities had written shows and you performed. And it was just remarkable.
Scott Keys: Yes, yes.
Amanda Schlachter: You know? So I'm really excited to get to know you on a deeper level since our paths have crossed so many times.
Scott Keys: Right, right. They absolutely, we have mutual friends and we see each other in the audience all the time. It's like, Hey, Amanda. Yes. So,
Amanda Schlachter: yeah.
Scott Keys: And I think, didn't I even interview you for a position at Booker?
Amanda Schlachter: We had talked about it. We talked about it. Yes. Yes. And we went back and forth and things like that. And i's, I'm so grateful that Sunny's there now.
Scott Keys: Absolutely. You know? Well, and that And Sunny got there because of you and was like, yeah, well it was, yeah.
Robyn Bell: Well, she, hello. Hello. Who is sunny?
Scott Keys: Oh,
Amanda Schlachter: okay. Do you wanna or do you want me, so I'll Sunny Smith?
Scott Keys: Yeah, it's Sunny Smith. Smith.
Amanda Schlachter: Yes.
Scott Keys: She is currently the head of the, VPA Theater Department at Booker High School. She,
Robyn Bell: she took over for you?
Scott Keys: She took over for me.
Robyn Bell: Okay.
Scott Keys: Uh, she was an adjunct for years and, uh, when I finally made the decision that I was gonna jump ship. Sunny was the obvious choice to take over. So that's who Sonny Smith is. But she was a college, , uh, graduate school.
Amanda Schlachter: Yeah. So we went to UF together. She was part of my cohort of seven. So
Robyn Bell: Nice.
Amanda Schlachter: When we graduated, she applied for the job and she's a fabulous director, singer, performer, writer.
Robyn Bell: And this is a great opportunity to make the connection between the Booker VPA program and students that because of your relationship now with Sonny, might come to State College of Florida. Right?
Amanda Schlachter: Yeah,
Scott Keys: absolutely.
Amanda Schlachter: Well, and I know too that Sunny and the team right now at Booker, they're doing some of their shows here while they're theaters being built. And then we also just agreed with Anne Morrison and Blake Walton for Sarasolo to have the juniors here at the Howard Studio Theater in January, just to offer them the space, because we're gonna do our production a little later this year.
Robyn Bell: Excellent.
Scott Keys: Well, and that's what's. So great about this community is the way all of the arts organizations cross pollinate. Is that a dirty word?
Robyn Bell: No. Yes. Not at all. Not on this podcast.
Scott Keys: There's, there's so much. Yeah. There's so much of that, that, that happens, where everybody helps each other out. And right now in terms of space and all of that stuff, everybody needs to help all of the other organizations that are around find a way to do what they want to do.
Amanda Schlachter: Absolutely.
Robyn Bell: And Scott, have you attended any of our performances at the State College of Florida?
Scott Keys: I have. I think the last thing I saw was, Peter and Wendy. Which, India I know, directed. And yeah, I think that's the last, and you know, one of my students, William, came back, you know, he moved out to the west coast. He was one of my students at Booker, and I'm so excited to see him coming back and, and jumping back in.
Amanda Schlachter: Yeah.
Scott Keys: And so, I mean, it really is, it's a small world and yet a huge conglomeration of of people who cross paths.
Amanda Schlachter: Yeah. And William just did yesterday, his. He's graduating in December, so we're super excited for him and we're like, go start auditioning. So we're really excited to see where he goes. But he always talks back to Booker and that's one thing I will say about everybody I meet from Booker and all of your students. There is this, once you've been in Booker vpa, and they will talk about Scott Keys quite a bit, but it's like they're forever changed. And so it's almost like people refer to that, the way that some people refer to their college training. I think that the program very much it's that way.
Scott Keys: Well, and and we have always said that because of the way our program was structured, thank goodness somebody said, you can have. A school where the kids take three periods of theater. We always said, you're getting college training because that's where we were trained. I didn't have training like this in high school.
Robyn Bell: Right.
Scott Keys: So it's been good and bad cuz sometimes some of the students go off to college and they're like, I am so bored at college. Cuz we're doing exactly what I did my freshman year in high school. And it's like, sorry, . Yeah. I, I don't know what to say to you.
Amanda Schlachter: Yeah. You're, you're well, you're well prepared.
Scott Keys: You're well prepared. Yeah. Yeah.
Robyn Bell: Well, let's, let me back up a little bit. Sure. Because we, I like to kinda start the conversations with the infancy. I, I joined band in seventh grade when I found out you got him free of football games. And you know, now I say to people, look where it got me. So tell us how you even got started in this theater stuff.
Scott Keys: Theater. I think for me, I think it probably was eighth grade, I had this wonderful, crazy English teacher named Mrs. Krakus. Right. Sounds like a monster or something. Mrs. Krakus And you know, I liked music, I was in the choirs and stuff like that, and I went to Catholic school.
Robyn Bell: Hmm.
Scott Keys: Which is all about sports, sports, sports. Even, even, you know, from fourth grade on. But Mrs. Kraus, uh, I don't know, she must have seen something in me. And I, remember she put me in a play and I thought, wow, this is really, really cool. And that was my eighth grade year. And then I went on to high school, Catholic high school, and I just had a great mentor, Mr. Benbo, um mm-hmm. . He was a former, he was a Franciscan brother, and he just, I don't know, he just saw something in me and a group of my friends that he's like, okay, I'm gonna start doing shows and we're gonna do theater. And he taught me so much. And now when I look back at it, I'm like, wow. He was really bold, brave, and experimental. I mean, it not that experimental. It wasn't like we, yeah. But. You know, we still did like the Wizard of Oz, but he was bold in, in some of the stuff he did, he was doing like beat poetry back before beat poetry was beat poetry and who knew? But anyway, he would put together these experimental theater projects that we would do. So he, he was a great, great mentor who I was just recently back in touch with.
Robyn Bell: Oh, awesome.
Scott Keys: Um, he lives out in San Francisco now and just incredible to touch base with him again after all of these years.
Robyn Bell: And what part of the country did you grow up in?
Scott Keys: I grew up in Dayton, Ohio.
Robyn Bell: Okay. Ohioan
Scott Keys: Kettering, Ohio. For anybody who really knows, but Dayton would be the sort of the anchor point for people to
Robyn Bell: understand just so much Midwest connections here. Much Midwest. Right. Everybody I know is from. Or Michigan
Scott Keys: Abs. Absolutely. No. Yeah. I don't know why we're such a repository for all.
Robyn Bell: I think it's I 75. Just take you straight here.
Scott Keys: I just, right
Amanda Schlachter: straight down,
Scott Keys: shoot, straight down that pike.
Amanda Schlachter: Yep.
Scott Keys: Yeah.
Robyn Bell: So you're in high school, you have this wonderful teacher, you were doing some cutting edge stuff in this Catholic school. Time to go to college.
Scott Keys: Time to go to college, which I was very lazy about. Although I sort of said to my father, I'm the youngest of five, and I sort of said, I wanna major in theater. And he is like, what are you crazy? He was a doctor. And that, it just was not quite acceptable, even though he had, you know, come to see my shows and things. So, I went to Miami University, which was his alma mater. studied there for two years and then I really wanted to do musical theater and I,
Robyn Bell: that, that was my next question. Straight plays or musical theater. So yeah,
Scott Keys: I was musical theater all the way, musical theater all the way. So I started at Miami, um, only because it was a, like the only school that I applied to kind of. And
Amanda Schlachter: sure.
Scott Keys: Now fortunately they had a good theater program and so I, you know, registered as a theater major. Cuz back then you didn't audition for programs. You just said, I am a theater major and I'm signing up for this. but after two years I decided I really wanted to study musical theater. There were two. BFA programs in the country at the time, Carnegie Mellon, which was very well renowned, and Syracuse University, which was just kind of beginning. This musical theater degree. Hmm. A lot of schools had theater degrees, but a specifically a musical theater degree. Those were very, very new. We're talking the dark ages of, of the mid seventies . Um, so I, uh, I auditioned and transferred to Syracuse which was great and a great education. Um,
Robyn Bell: were your parents supportive of that move?
Scott Keys: They were. They saw after two years in college that I was still just absolutely devoted to doing this. Mm-hmm. and, and I wasn't gonna become a doctor. They, that just wasn't going to happen. You know, my dad was always concerned and all
Robyn Bell: my dad too. You're not gonna make any money. He, I'm gonna major in music. Well, you're gonna starve. Yes.
Scott Keys: Sing, right? You're, yeah, absolutely. So anyway, um, so I, I went to Syracuse, which was a great training and a wonderful program. Vanessa Williams was one of my classmates.
Robyn Bell: Oh, the singer? The, she was, uh, miss America.
Scott Keys: She was Miss America and she's still doing stuff, but she probably is, was the most. Famous and infamous from our class. But uh, so, um,
Robyn Bell: and then there's you
Scott Keys: and then there was me. Yeah. . Yes.
Robyn Bell: But let's, let's, let me talk about this for a second. Cuz Amanda, you and I have talked about this before, cuz we send students to, you know, they're two years in the transfer and in the music world they say, oh, should I go to Florida State or should I go to Florida, Gulf Coast?
Scott Keys: Mm-hmm .
Robyn Bell: And you know, I'd say, you know what? Florida State, you're gonna be in the third band or choir. Your teacher on your instrument is gonna be maybe a doctoral student. It's a huge program like you're describing maybe Carnegie Mellon. You go to Florida Gulf Coast, it's an upstart. You get a lot of opportunities there. And maybe that was your experience at Syracuse has start as new, starting a new program.
Scott Keys: It was, and, and the only confusing thing for me was that I was a transfer. So they put me in the freshman, freshman class. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. , which was fine. And I was glad to be there. It's just that all of my classmates sort of looked at, you know, at that point, even two years. Mm-hmm. people are like, who are you? You're old. Why are you in my class? But, um,
Robyn Bell: were, were you able to finish the degree in two years?
Scott Keys: I was.
Robyn Bell: Okay, good for you.
Scott Keys: And I, I was one of the few that they actually let transfer in because it's difficult when you have a, we were that way at Booker when you have a systemic program it's very hard to bring some. But they allowed me to just be there for two years and take the curriculum and, and graduate on time. One of the things that Syracuse did, with their musical theater program, everybody had to take music theory and piano. Mm-hmm. , which was great. I had been playing piano for years. I learned to play guitar first. And then I figured out how to play those chords on the piano. So I'd been playing piano for a long time. I was terrible at music theory. And they would put, you know, these little simple tunes down.
Robyn Bell: It's like algebra.
Scott Keys: I can't read music. Like I can't, I'm still, to this day I'm horrible at plunking out notes. But you say play this song. If there are chords written there, I'm, they're like, oh my God, you're so good. You put this study for, I'm like, no, I can just fake it.
Robyn Bell: It's the shorthand.
Scott Keys: Really. Well, yeah, the shorthand. Mm-hmm. . And in fact, I almost wasn't going to get my degree because I could not pass music theory. And I finally said, isn't part of it for me to be able to play for my auditions or to play for other people for auditions? And I said, can I bring somebody in and play for them? Mm-hmm. , instead of playing. , this little, I don't know.
Robyn Bell: Sonatina in D
Scott Keys: E. Yes, right.
Amanda Schlachter: That's your world. Robyn .
Scott Keys: And they said, okay, we'll let you do that. And I played send in the clowns for one of my classmates and they're like, oh, okay. I guess, yeah, you pass. I, I mean it, I'm sure they're a little bit more strict now, but because it was a new program. New, yeah. They had to go, okay, we need to rethink what the mm-hmm. pre-requisites are for passing's passing this class.
Robyn Bell: That's cool.
Scott Keys: So anyway,
Amanda Schlachter: I'm curious too, when you were in your undergrad, cuz I think this is always an interesting evolution. Were you a musical theater and I wanna be a performer? Or did you know, because we'll talk about that in a little bit because you've done so much. Like I, you're a, you're a renaissance human in theater. You do so many things. Did you know that then, or
Scott Keys: Absolutely. I wanted to be a performer. Okay. Absolutely. That was, that was all, that was all there was.
Amanda Schlachter: Right.
Scott Keys: and then, but then things changed. Yeah. I was always a character guy and I was thrilled with that. I was a good dancer, great chorus boy, and I was fine with that. I was like, I'll be a professional chorus boy, that's fine. I'll sing and dance my way to fame. Yeah, that doesn't really happen. But, um, , you're still always a chorus boy. Um, but in terms of roles and things like that, uh, you know, I was always the character guy. I was always the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz. I mean, the most romantic role I ever played was like, Cornelius Hackle in Hello Dolly, which is like not your typical male, you know,
Robyn Bell: you weren't, you weren't a lead.
Scott Keys: I wasn't a lead. And, and I, and I knew that, and I understood that, that that's a big thing in musical theater is to understand what type you are. And I think I always was like, oh, I'm the goofy sidekick, or I'm the funny character guy. I always understood that.
Amanda Schlachter: Yeah.
Scott Keys: I played Charlie and, and Where's Charlie? The musical based on Charlie's aunt. And, you know, I was always, I, I was never the handsome leading guy and that was fine with me. And then did a lot of chorus work.
Amanda Schlachter: Yeah.
Scott Keys: Both professionally and, and educational theater. Mm-hmm. . So, but yes, absolutely. My goal was to be a performer.
Amanda Schlachter: Yeah.
Scott Keys: And then, Things changed.
Amanda Schlachter: So did you go to work right out of your undergrad
Scott Keys: I went, I went back home. Okay. After I graduated from Syracuse, I had my BFA in musical theater. And it's like, now what? Went back home, there was a dinner theater. Dinner Theater was sort of new. Hmm. I mean, see I'm talking about the Dark Ages. Dinner Theater was new and now it doesn't even exist anymore. It's, it's, it's extinct.
Robyn Bell: You cycled through it. .
Scott Keys: Yeah. But there was this local dinner theater and I had to prove to my parents like, I can make money doing this. And I, sure enough, I went back home and I'm like, okay, this is the only place where I'm gonna get paid to do theater, locally here and got cast. And so I started doing that and I did that for a couple of years. I was meeting people in and around Ohio. I got hired to go to a summer stock company. They said we lost our choreographer for carousel. Hmm. It was called Weather Vane Playhouse. It's a Newark, Ohio, little bit more Eastern. And I said, sure.
Robyn Bell: You had never done that. The
Scott Keys: I couldn't do that. I had never done that. Yeah. Yeah. I had danced, but I'm like, of course I can choreograph Carousel so I went, but then I arrived and they're like, can you direct it and choreograph it? And I went, of course I can, can . So, so I directed this production of Carousel and I went. . I love this.
Robyn Bell: Mm-hmm. , it, it changed your path.
Scott Keys: I totally changed my path. I was like, I never need to be on stage ever again. , I loved directing. And so that was a situation. The next summer they asked me to come back and direct two more shows and, you know, and this was classic summer strike. It was, um, uh, what did I do South Pacific and Annie, get Your Gun. And at that point, the artistic director decided that he was not gonna return for the next summer, and they immediately turned to me and said, would you come back? I was 23 years old. And they like, will you come back and be our artistic director? And I'm like, yes, of course I can do that. . I was just stupid and naive enough to, to think it was easy.
Robyn Bell: But, but that's what opened the door for you to directing.
Scott Keys: Absolutely. Yeah. And I learned. I learned so much by doing it. I, I totally believe that there is no textbook where you can learn how to direct mm-hmm. you know, there, it, there just isn't. I think that's true of acting too. You can read a lot of acting books and get a lot of really interesting information, but you have to do it. And so running this summer stock company and then being an actor professionally in, local, theater and, and I just started taking in like, okay, how does this director direct and then I just got to direct five shows this summer. And boy,
Robyn Bell: what were you doing in the off-season? Still acting, performing.
Scott Keys: He's still acting, still performing. Mm-hmm. and I, and I did that. You know, I did both things. And then finally just got to the point where I'm like, I don't want to do this audition circuit thing anymore. And then eventually went back to grad school because. along the way, I know also decided that I wanted to write musicals. Mm-hmm. I had always played guitar and piano. I wrote a musical in high school, which I tried to get my wonderful mentor. I was like, can I? And he said, yes. I said, can I do this show? And it was oddly, vaguely, really, it was Godspell but , he's like, it was a Catholic school. Right. So, and he was like, sure, you can do it. So, like, I had, I had written, and I had been with this summer theater company when I was in high school too, called Summer Youth Theater Company, SYTCO. And we used to tour around and we do these original musicals. So, you know, but I was an actor then. Mm-hmm. , I think I wrote some songs for them. But anyway, so suddenly this love of writing came back. So I jumped in and, applied to NYU now. Had a musical theater writing program.
Robyn Bell: Wow.
Amanda Schlachter: Wow.
Scott Keys: And really it was also unique. The only one of its kind still kind of is in terms of an MFA in musical theater writing. And, I applied, I was still artistic director of this summer theater in Ohio. I didn't get accepted on a Tuesday and on. Wednesday got a letter saying, yes, you are accepted. You, I was on the waiting list. Mm-hmm. . So it was like Tuesday was
Robyn Bell: 24 hours. You got moved up,
Scott Keys: right? I got moved up and so I went off to New York, with my partner. I'm now with my partner by now. David, um, we had met doing dinner theater and then he came, he became, he's a costumer, works at the Asolo. But he, he came and worked with me in summer stock and he was in the shows and helped costume and all of that. And so I said, . So on Tuesday he was like, thank God we don't have to move to New York. And then on Wednesday I'm like, guess what? ? Um, so
Robyn Bell: the adventure of your life is about to begin
Scott Keys: yeah. So we, we took off for New York and I, I ended up going to NYU and getting a degree in musical theater writing. And at that time, still sort of this way they divide you, you're either a lyricist or you're a composer.
Amanda Schlachter: Mm-hmm.
Scott Keys: many people in the program. Did a little bit of both, and I could do both. . You know, like I said, I can't plank out notes. I can't read music. And I wanted to be a lyricist and a, and a book writer. So I was a words person. And then, and so I did that for two years.
Amanda Schlachter: So what was that program like? I mean, I'm curious how they constructed it,
Scott Keys: It's crazy and I don't know how they're doing it now, but at the time they ran it in what they called cycles. I was part of the fifth cycle. They had had four cycles prior and they would just run it for two years consecutively. They would not bring in a class each year. Our class was a class of 20. They were, 10 composers and 10 lyricists. Hmm. And the first year was, Doing projects. You musician, you lyricists. Go write a song about this. Go do. And we would do these mini projects and we would go in on lab days and we would present these projects. And we also had to be the performers in the class. Hmm. Although I almost never did, I almost never got up and sang in that class. I and they would always be like, did you come from a performing background, ? I'm like, I did. I just wanna sit and listen. I don't wanna, yeah. But, um, and you had to be a really, really good site reader because literally it would be like, yeah, the composer would be finishing and be like, here, can you say, read this for lab? And I was bad at that and I was like, no, I don't wanna ruin your piece, but I wanna listen to it. So, so that's, that's how they did it. And then your second year, , they would team you up with the person that you seemed best suited to work with. And for, me, it was a, a guy by the name of Rob Hartman. And Rob and I had done several projects through the year and they teamed us up to do our thesis project. And then you spend the summer sort of going, okay, what are we gonna write this musical about? And you come away at the end, of the program with having written this, thesis musical. And, we had Broadway actors who would come in and read periodically and sing through our stuff. And so that was, that was a great experience. I mean, I, I loved New York. Mm-hmm. . Um,
Robyn Bell: but to somehow you eventually end up here.
Scott Keys: Well, somehow I eventually end up here. Okay. So how,
Robyn Bell: yeah. What's that journey like
Scott Keys: almost there? So after grad, . I took a job with Playwrights Horizons in New York as their musical theater intern, which basically meant that I read, every musical that came across their desk. And I always joke that at the time that I was reading musicals. Every one of them was about Marilyn Monroe. I don't know why. It was like every time I would open, I'd be like, oh my God. It's another musical about Marilyn Monroe , which, you know, now they have, um, uh, what was the show? Smash.
Amanda Schlachter: Oh yeah.
Scott Keys: Right, right. Yeah. I mean, but like every musical it was, it was Marilyn Monroe. So anyway, but I read a lot of musicals and I would have to write the rejection letter saying, thank you very much for submitting
Robyn Bell: this Stinks
Scott Keys: then. But yeah. ,
Amanda Schlachter: did you have the authority to just, if it was bad, boom.
Scott Keys: Yes.
Amanda Schlachter: Okay.
Scott Keys: That's absolutely . Um,
Robyn Bell: did you have to give constructive criticism or feedback or No, just yes or no. I,
Scott Keys: I did. Okay. They're like, no, you can just write and say no. Hm. We we're not interested, but I would often reach out to the writers and say, think about this. Think about this. This is a very common subject right now. Nice job, but you might want to find something that's not about Marilyn Monroe . And I did, and I, and I got good feedback and, and my boss was happy that I was, at least being not just Dishy and, and Sure. Just saying, yeah, we're not interested. So I did that for a couple years. You know, I was gonna write the next Broadway musical. That didn't quite happen. Rob and I did have a real successful show that we did, in the Village though called Macabaret, which is still done around the country now, I was like, let's take a bunch of our songs, because both of us were obsessed with, sort of spooky and gothic and all of that. So, I said, let's take a bunch of our, we had written our thesis musical was called Hereafter and it was about a dead it and it also had a lot to do with Catholicism. Comes back to my whole Catholic high school. Mm-hmm. , I, I won't go into the plot of it, but anyway, and it had to do with aids cuz that was important time.
Robyn Bell: Big at that time. Yep.
Scott Keys: Homosexuality and there was all kinds of stuff in it. But anyway, we had written a bunch of songs that got thrown out or we had titles of songs and I said, let's, throw 'em together and we'll, put it together a thing. And I came up with the title Macabaret. So
Robyn Bell: I love that. That's very clever.
Scott Keys: And, we went to the Duplex, which is a little place down in the village. Mm-hmm. . And we're like, how do you get a show in here? And they're like, doesn't matter. You just have to book the time. And then you take half of the bar and we keep the other half of the bar. And we're like, okay. And we booked it on a Halloween and we did great business.
Amanda Schlachter: Wow.
Scott Keys: And people loved it. And it's really campy and really silly. And we just had three productions of it this Halloween.
Robyn Bell: Yeah, I was gonna say it's seasonal.
Scott Keys: It's a very seasonal piece. Yeah. Yeah. Which is why we could never get it picked up by mm-hmm. One of the big publishing companies, they're like, it's so seasonal. It's so seasonal. It's so seasonal. It's like, so what? So it's seasonable. Yeah. You know, so is Elf. So is, you know. But anyway,
Amanda Schlachter: Christmas Carol.
Robyn Bell: Yeah.
Scott Keys: Christmas Carol. Right, right. Exactly. But anyway, we did that and then, so second year we decided to do Macabaret again, and I got mugged. David and I both got mugged. My partner David and I got mugged in New York
Robyn Bell: at the same time.
Scott Keys: Yeah, we were together walking home,
Robyn Bell: like, like held up with a gun?
Scott Keys: No, I don't know if they had guns.
Robyn Bell: Okay.
Scott Keys: We were walking home from the subway and these two kids jumped us. And in that process I, fortunately we lived in Brooklyn. We screamed as loud as we could and a bunch of people poured out. Everybody says nobody pays attention in New York when you hear, we lived in a very Italian neighborhood, so people poured out, we were safe. And these guys just took off. They got nothing from. All that happened was they broke my jaw.
Amanda Schlachter: Oh.
Scott Keys: Because the guy tackled me from behind. I fell, my jaw hit the curb and
Robyn Bell: shattered.
Scott Keys: Shattered.
Robyn Bell: Wow.
Scott Keys: So during our second, year that we were trying to mount , Macabaret in, in the village, I ended up in the hospital and they had to wire my jar shut and I had to direct going
Robyn Bell: it's not funny, but That's funny. It's funny.
Scott Keys: Yeah. So anyway, at that time also my partner David had been working at George Street Playhouse in New Jersey, a bunch of places. He had been costuming, he'd been doing some museum installation work. We had a friend who had gone to the Asolo, whose friend was the costumer at the Asolo at the time, who was coming to New York. To do some fabric shopping, asked David if he would help her out. Long story short, he got hired to come down to the Asolo. They needed Overhire on a production of Three Musketeers, which is only strange because right now they are just about to amount another production of Three Musk.
Amanda Schlachter: Three Musketeers. Yeah.
Scott Keys: That was the first show that he came down to do Overhire work on. And while he was here, they sort of said, do you want a full-time job? Do you wanna come down here? And, and he called me up and I'm, and I'm. Kind of petrified cuz he's gone to Florida and I'm in New York like this, unable to talk. And, and he called and he said, they've offered me a full-time job. Do you want to move to Florida? And I said, yes, yes. Get me out of New York. Yeah. Because I was pretty traumatized by it. He was hurt too, but really, I mean, it sounds he hurt his knees mm-hmm. because they tackled him from behind too. But he didn't end up with anything, kind of as drastic as a broken jaw. So anyway, that's what got us to Sarasota. Yeah. It's his job with the Asolo. I came down. and, okay. So I'll just keep talking until you stop.
Amanda Schlachter: Yeah. Well now we wanna go. Is this because Yes. Tell us cuz I'm curious about book or how you discovered it.
Scott Keys: Well, David's working at the Asolo. Yeah. I, I moved down here. I'm still directing now. The dinner theater that I used to be an actor at I'm now directing at. And so all of that had happened. So I'm still freelance directing. I came down here, went to see David at work one day and up on the bulletin board. And I had just gotten my degree from nyu, in musical theater writing and literally on the board was looking for musical theater writer. Hmm. For a small publishing company, . And I was. What that's not, that's not like a job that anybody posts on a bulletin board. The irony of it all is kind word, but there was a small publishing company here, they still exist and was called Eldridge Publishing that was located down in Venice. And they were looking for somebody to take a bunch of their best selling plays. They did a lot of educational work, in high schools that couldn't afford the royalties for, you know, and they, wanted somebody to take some of their best selling plays and turn them into musicals. And I was like, okay, okay, I can do that. So I
Robyn Bell: Wow.
Scott Keys: Went down there and started writing songs for them. And I did that for about the first two years that I was down here. Started getting my foot in the door at. Directing around town. Mm-hmm. , like at players. In fact, that was the first theater to hire me was, uh, players theater. And then, you know, that brings me to like, one of the reasons I stepped into interim. I mean, it's like I've been connected with that theater for years. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. Speaking of which, the summer stock company that I worked for mm-hmm. , one of the people, that I hired as an actor one summer was Jeff Kin. Just, I just thought, I So,
Amanda Schlachter: isn't that funny?
Robyn Bell: Wow.
Scott Keys: Yeah. Yeah. So that's
Amanda Schlachter: who's also from Ohio.
Scott Keys: Who's also from Ohio.
Robyn Bell: You're from Ohio? Craig Smith is from Ohio.
Amanda Schlachter: We're from Ohio.
Scott Keys: Yeah. Yeah. It's just, it's,
Robyn Bell: I'm from, it's crazy Texas. Why? I don't fit in.
Scott Keys: I've never been to Texas. That's one state I've never been to. But anyway, so long story short, so I, I started directing around community theater here. and that was great cuz. When I was in Ohio as a director, community theater didn't pay you to direct. And then I came down here and they're like, yes.
Robyn Bell: Oh yeah, we pay.
Scott Keys: Yeah. And, and, and I was like, mm-hmm . Oh. So like, okay. So I started directing and choreographing and did that while I was also, writing for this publishing company. Then I got let go from the publishing company I have many musicals out there that Bear my name that no one hopefully has ever heard of. So, St. Stephens. I had gotten to know Preston Boyd a little bit. Yeah. And he's like, we need a theater teacher. Do you want to come teach at St. Stephens? So I went and taught at St. Stephens for a year, which was great. And my father was thrilled. He's like, oh my God. A real job. Yeah. Yeah. With a real salary.
Robyn Bell: And these are the fun connections, because Preston Boyd's son, Dorian Boyd is our sound designer at the CF Neel Performing Arts Center. Right? Mm-hmm. .
Scott Keys: Exactly. Yeah. Exactly. Yeah. So, and my partner David, was working with Preston's wife, Priscilla, in a production of Cabaret. I, I mean, yeah. Yeah. The way things work. And he went, do you want to come teach at St. Stephens? So I said, okay. I taught for a year at St. Stephens and was like, St. Stephens, it's a great school, but for example, every student has to take a fine arts class. Mm-hmm. . And img the students from img, the golfers and the tennis players that's where they would go to do their academics. And they all had to take a fine arts class. Guess which one? They would throw them into the theater class.
Amanda Schlachter: Of course.
Scott Keys: So there I am with all of my Catholic boy angst, and they threw all of the jocks into my theater class. Yeah. And I'm up there trying to, it didn't work. And I was like, I I, I can't do it. No, no. I won't say I had some really great students at St. Stephens too. But it was overcome by all of the, the jocks that they threw into my class. And I thought, , this education thing, it's not for me. . .
Amanda Schlachter: Wow.
Scott Keys: So I'm directing a little night music at players theater, and we needed some kids to work backstage. And these two kids came in, Michael Pasi and Monica Pasquini and they were brother and sister and they came in to work backstage and pull rails and after like one tech rehearsal, I'm like, who are you kids? You are amazing. And thank you for coming in and doing this, but like you seem to really know what you're doing. I was like, where do you go to school? And they're like, we go to Booker. I had heard of Booker and I think I had seen one production there. Godspell ironically, which I'm just about to direct, but I had seen one production there and it was very, very good. And I went, oh, so you go to Booker. I was like, I'm just about to leave my position at St. Stephens. If Booker ever needed a teacher. And they're like, oh no, we have this teacher and we love her and she will never ever leave. Literally, I, I mean the irony of it is like
Robyn Bell: the next day,
Scott Keys: the next day they came in and, and they were sort of like, I'm like, Monica, Michael, why are you so down? You? Yeah. Our theater teacher just announced that she's going back to grad school and she's leaving oh. I was like, oh, that's too bad. Really? ,
Robyn Bell: when do I apply ?
Scott Keys: So Ken Wiggers was the head of the program at that time. He was the tech director, but also the head of the program. He helped to start it. he came to see the production. He got me an interview with, Jan Gibbs, who was the principal. She was a wonderful, wonderful woman. She was the one who invented the VPA program at Booker, when they wanted to, integrate the school. And, so it was all her brainchild. I went in and interviewed with her and, um,
Robyn Bell: showed up there every morning for the next 22 years.
Scott Keys: Right.
Amanda Schlachter: Yeah.
Robyn Bell: Well,
Scott Keys: and, and she sort of went, she knew, you know how education is, they had to post the position
Amanda Schlachter: mm-hmm.
Robyn Bell: right.
Scott Keys: And she said, , why don't we do this? I'm gonna write the job description and say, I need somebody with a musical theater degree. .
Robyn Bell: Yes.
Scott Keys: a, a BFA and preferably an MFA in musical theater, which I had in my musical theater. Right. Uh, so she made this sort of impossible thing. Yeah. Impossible.
Robyn Bell: Nobody else. Job description. Nobody else would. Yes. Nobody else would qualify.
Scott Keys: Right, right. Yeah. And I was like, you do whatever you want, but yes, I would love to come work. And so yeah. That sort of happened. And then, she hired me because I had the professional background to take the job as a teacher, but then I had to start taking teaching. Mm-hmm. , I had to get my educat get certified. I had to get certified and get my education degree. But I didn't have to do it right away. And anyway, the rest is history. And, I fell in love with Booker. You know, it took me a couple years for some of the students to warm up to me because they had adored the previous teacher. Mm-hmm. and that's always difficult.
Robyn Bell: Always difficult. And I'm sure difficult for Sunny as well.
Scott Keys: Absolutely. Mm-hmm. . Although the good thing is, is that Sonny and I had a working relationship with each other, and the students who were there had, been exposed to both of us. So Sunny wasn't coming in blind.
Amanda Schlachter: Right.
Scott Keys: Most of the kids were like, , who are you and where did you come from and what did you do with her teacher? Right. You know, like they didn't know who I was, even though I had done stuff around town and things like that. And I was a, for, for the next 21 years, um, I was there, and 2015 is when I then took the program over. I mean, I was always head of the acting program, but I was never head of the department. Yeah. Mm-hmm. . And that's when became chair of the department.
Robyn Bell: So. Well, and I'm, I'm a little curious because that's a long time. We've seen a lot of change. I started teaching in, uh, I taught high school band for nine years, and I started in 1999. And when I think back to 1999, what public school looked like, even down to, you know, we'd get back from a football game and there'd be a line out the door in my office to call parents to come pick 'em up. Now, you know, by the time I left and nine years later, everybody had a phone and you, there was no landlines. This goes right. The change in education, in, in our approach and the technology mm-hmm. . But I, I have to think about your timeframe for retiring at, at the end of that pandemic. Yeah. I, I'm curious, how did that play into maybe your decision to retire? Or did? You can, Nope. I got my years in, I retire.
Scott Keys: There were a couple things that played into it. . as you know, Booker is undergoing a major renovation now. Mm-hmm. with their theater space, which is why they're using SCF. Mm-hmm. and then trying to find other places to, other than the cafeteria, which I think they did their first show maybe in the cafeteria. Or did they do radium girls here?
Amanda Schlachter: They were gonna do radium girls here, but I think the hurricane made an impact on that. Right. So I think it was push back to the cafeteria,
Scott Keys: but anyway, long story short, Booker got a major campus renovation, everything except for the theater, because it was the newest building at the time that they renovated the rest of the campus. Mm-hmm. . And so we got some cosmetic changes and that was great. But now our program is growing and building, we literally were teaching our acting classes in the dressing rooms. Mm. Um, and that was fine when it was a smaller program and you had five kids, but as you had a class of 20, it's like, mm-hmm. , this isn't gonna work. So we had fought for a long time now that the rest of the campus was up and beautiful and all of that, we needed more classroom space. Mm-hmm. . And it would have been really, really nice if we could have an additional performance space, like a black box theater, cuz not everybody would make it into the main, uh, I mean it was tough, it was competitive. We ran a challenging program, but not everybody would make it onto the main stage in their time at Booker. We tried to get everybody on stage in some way, so we fought long, and hard. At first they said, oh, we'll redo the lobby. I'm like, no, no, no, no. We are an educational facility. A lovely lobby is great. What we need is classroom space and additional.
Robyn Bell: Performing spaces.
Amanda Schlachter: Yeah.
Scott Keys: Performance space. Yeah. Not a big, bright, prettier, bigger lobby. Mm-hmm. , that's ridiculous. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . So we finally got it approved right before the pandemic, huge price tag on it, like $22 million. Mm. Carolyn Zucker, who was on the school board at the time, really helped push it through two of her grandsons went through the program, and she, was a huge supporter. And that was great. And then the pandemic came so pandemic and sort of demolition of the building. I sort of went, I don't want to do this anymore. I don't want to. This is gonna be really, really difficult for whoever takes over this program because they're not gonna have any place. To perform. Yeah. And I was like, I knew that everybody was gonna have to, but everything was changing with the pandemic. And I, I, I knew it was gonna be difficult, but I just said, you know, I think this is the right time for me to step away. Mm-hmm. while the building gets closed down and the program is gonna be in major flux, I'm going to step away and do other stuff that I want to do, like write and I hadn't really directed in the community in those 21 years. A few shows here and there.
Robyn Bell: They keep you really busy at a high school level. Yeah. Don't
Scott Keys: they? Sure do.
Robyn Bell: You don't realize until you're in there, like, wow.
And I was perfectly happy. My years at Booker were so fulfilling. Mm-hmm. , I loved what I was doing at Booker.
Scott Keys: Artistically fulfilling, educationally fulfilling, you know,
I loved teaching. Once I started doing it, I was like, it was sort of the same bell that went off when I discovered that I loved directing. Mm-hmm. teaching was just sort of an extension of that. And I was like, I love this education thing. I love nurturing and, and all of that. Got to write a couple of musicals with, Johnny Munich. We were writing original stuff. We did, um, a virgin, uh, it was called Sleepy Hollow, um, musical Ghost Story. So it was a version of Legend of Sleepy Hollow and that was really cool and we did really well when we took it to the state conference. And then my final year, we didn't know where we were gonna do the show, so, We did it outside and I wrote this thing called the Kingdom of Solitaire with Johnny, so I got, I got to do everything I ever wanted to do.
Robyn Bell: Yeah. You were able to be creative, you were able to, to teach you were able.
Scott Keys: Right. Direct. It's,
Robyn Bell: it's not, you know, and education is all, you know what, what gets us down are the other adults or, or people making rules that don't know what we do in, you know, all the paperwork and the lesson plans and that sort of stuff, the IEP plans and mm-hmm. , you just wanna go, oh, not today, can I just be creative and can I just help these children learn?
Scott Keys: Absolutely. And, I realize that like, I don't think I would be able to teach now with what's happening. Mm-hmm. in schools and maybe specifically in the Sarasota school, just I would not be able to teach the way I taught. Not that I did anything, wrong, but I definitely pushed the envelope and I did not treat these kids like, I treated them like kids, but not like kids. Mm-hmm. , they were young adults. They, there were, there's language that they know there were mm-hmm. things that they know, and the plays that I would read with them, I'd be like, mm-hmm. , these characters are your age, and if you were auditioning, you could be going out for this on Broadway, or you could be doing this on tv, you could be playing these kinds of roles. So, I pushed the envelope with the, the kind of plays and literature that I would have them read.
Robyn Bell: And you might be a little censored now. Is this your point with what's going on? Yeah,
Scott Keys: that is my point is that I, I would've been censored. Yeah. And I was always very careful. I said, if there's language in the play and you come to it, if we were reading aloud, I'd say, you don't have to say those. If you come and you're uncomfortable, that's fine. But I want to talk about why there's language in this play and why these characters speak this way. Mm-hmm. and I, I mean, I was doing good play, like proof and, and the shape. I wasn't just being, gratuitous. I was like, these were good plays. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. that had characters and, things that they could understand. But I, I wouldn't be able to teach those now.
Robyn Bell: And so you have, finished your time at Booker. You've had now a whole year. Mm-hmm. Hmm. , uh, you maybe have some other projects you've been working on.
Scott Keys: Absolutely.
Robyn Bell: Something very exciting with one of my favorite songwriters and performers. Can you tell us a little bit about this new project you're doing?
Scott Keys: Absolutely. Um, out of the blue Benny Sado ambush, who, does he, no, he directed at the Asolo. He didn't direct here.
Amanda Schlachter: He didn't direct here. Yeah.
Scott Keys: But he's, he's now the new artistic director down there.
Robyn Bell: Yet, yet, yet,
Amanda Schlachter: yet, yet. No. He's terrific. I've had, I've had Zoom calls with him. He's lovely. Um,
Scott Keys: but, Benny and Murray Chase, contacted me without really knowing. You know, I, I said I was a self-taught musician and it was what taught me to play the piano was my sister bringing home the Tapestry album. Mm. And me listening to it and going, what are these songs? Yeah. And guitar too. James Taylor. So anyway, they called out of the blue, they called and said, we have this project, we'd like to discuss it. And so we, I was on Zoom with Murray and Chris Gny and Benny, Sado Ambush and Michelle Kazanski, all Venish people, and they said, would you be interested in doing a Carole King James Taylor review? And I was like, of course I wanna do it. Yeah. Like, I have had a reverence and a, a passion for them. Yeah. Both. It's the music I grew up on. And I said, sure. And so they commissioned us to put together this, show, and, uh, we ended up titling it up on the roof. I thought that was a good choice because she wrote it, she recorded it, but James Sailor also had a big hit with it and they were good friends. Never were romantically involved. I just want people to know that . But, um, uh, and toward. Mm. Maybe 10 years ago they went on this big tour together. Mm-hmm. they have always been good friends. Collaborators had a wonderful relationship and, they were great friends. And so I was like, and the other song that she wrote and that he recorded was, you've Got a Friend. So that is sort of the arc of our piece is up on the Roof, which is all about like getting up on the roof and being alone and with your thoughts. And then you've got a friend. So we're writing this show called Up On the Roof, which is essentially a musical review. We've created this world. Five strangers go up on a rooftop to be alone and deal with their issues. And they just happen to be four other people who were on the roof doing the same thing. And they sort of, end up sharing and having a. party up on the roof and commiserating. And so anyway, that's
Robyn Bell: when and when and where are we gonna be able to hear and see this?
Scott Keys: It goes up January 10th and
Robyn Bell: down in Venice,
Scott Keys: down in Venice. And I was
Robyn Bell: with the, building that got blown away.
Scott Keys: Right, right. So yeah, so when that happened, like, I'm like, oh my God, what's gonna happen to this project?
Robyn Bell: We all did.
Scott Keys: Fortunately, it is one of the shows. It was supposed to be on the main stage. And they're like, can you reconceive it? I was like, easy. It's a musical review. , it was always gonna be a fairly small, intimate show. It's just that the space was going to be bigger. And the stage was gonna be bigger, but now it's in this sort of black box. I mean, they got on it so quick. Mm-hmm. . Yep. And took this building that they were renovating for their education. But nothing had been done. I mean, they had sort of cleared it out. It was a big empty shell. They have created this wonderful little black box theater in this space.
Amanda Schlachter: It's incredible. Mm-hmm. ,
Scott Keys: we opened January 10th. We're in rehearsals now and we're, putting it together. And now
Robyn Bell: during this rehearsal process, are you still editing? Are you still changing things or is it just
Scott Keys: We are, well it's, it's interesting cuz while I say, you know, we have conceived this, but I mean, the writing was done. I mean, Carolyn James wrote great music and great songs. So, the arrangements, the order of the songs, maybe a little bit here and there. . I mean, we had a lot of songs to choose from and, Michelle and I went back and forth about a lot of different songs, but we sort of finally narrowed it down. So things, things are changing and now it's just how do we tell, the story about these five strangers and create some relationship and mm-hmm. , not just have 'em standing on a roof singing
Robyn Bell: Yes. It's character development at that point.
Scott Keys: Yeah. A little bit of char. Mm-hmm. , you know, um, but we have to be very careful cause you can do a musical review of almost anything that you want to do a musical review if you have ASCAP and bmi mm-hmm. If you add any dialogue of any kind, or characters, then, then you're dealing with what's called dramatic rights. And that's a whole different thing. And that's a whole different set of lawyers and people.
Robyn Bell: Yes. It's it's all about money.
Scott Keys: Yeah. Mm-hmm. , so, shh. No . So, so we, so I call them personas. So these five people come out on stage and they have personas and they're on this roof together and they sing a bunch of Carol King and James Taylor songs.
Amanda Schlachter: Yeah. And then you're also getting ready to direct another show right after that. Right. You just had auditions,
Scott Keys: right? No, I have them.
Amanda Schlachter: Oh, you have them coming up. Oh, okay.
Scott Keys: And Sunday. So I'm going to direct Godspell.
Amanda Schlachter: Okay.
Robyn Bell: Also for.
Scott Keys: Not for Venice, for players where I was interim artistic director for a while. Which I don't wanna say selfishly, but I was like, I, of course I'll take this interim position and help keep this theater going. I'm inside by side. I'm gonna be directing Godspell at the end of the season.
Robyn Bell: This makes sense.
Scott Keys: So I will come in and help you guys, while you work through whatever this transition is.
Robyn Bell: Well, can we take just a second and talk about that transition?
Scott Keys: Sure, sure.
Robyn Bell: This's big news, you don't open up the Sunday arts section and not read something about, possibly what is gonna happen there.
Scott Keys: Right.
Robyn Bell: So some insider trading tips you could share if you have 'em.
Scott Keys: and, I think I'm at liberty to say a couple of things, cuz it, some of it's public, but they have just found a new artistic director. Mm-hmm. . And they should be making an announcement about who that is very, very soon. That's kind of all I can say about that. Mm-hmm. . But they did find a new artistic director, and they accepted, I think last week and
Robyn Bell: just inked the deal,
Scott Keys: just inked the deal. And they will be starting, I believe, after the first of the year, but probably more like February. Cuz this person is gonna be coming from elsewhere and so I'm sure there's lots of things that need to, get tied up. So that is happening. The municipal situation didn't work out. which there are positive things to that and negative things to that. But it got to a point where it was sort of, Players wanted to fight for it only because they were getting so much, negativity that it's like, we're going to keep trying to get this. And one of the spaces that came up was Payne Park Auditorium. Mm-hmm. , which I know the board and the staff, have toured and looked at and. Hmm. This might work after all. Mm-hmm. . I think right now the mall space, that players, I was there when I came on as interim, one of the big things that happened was, um, let It Be, was the last show when it was sort of in this proscenium orientation and it had been decided that it was gonna switch to theater and the round, which is a much better, space, for what is a retail space and, it's working much better for, players and for the season and for the show.
Robyn Bell: Yeah. I talked with Jeffrey, Ken on the podcast I did with him. I Dream would be for Benden in their philanthropic ways with Nates on a rescue and with Benden Park, the rowing facility. Mm-hmm. is to take that mall and turn it into a arts hub and Arts. Total Arts hub.
Scott Keys: Absolutely.
Robyn Bell: How many organizations would benefit from that?
Scott Keys: It would be so great.
Robyn Bell: Have you listened to my theory on this?
Scott Keys: No.
Robyn Bell: Okay. Well, I'll send you the link. You need to listen.
Scott Keys: Okay.
Robyn Bell: I don't have time to champion it. My idea is just out there and I need someone to champion it. Maybe that's you.
Scott Keys: Yeah. Well, who knows?
Robyn Bell: Maybe that's Amanda
Amanda Schlachter: and all your Free Time
Scott Keys: and, and or Jeffrey. But it's sort of is, I mean Yes. That's, it's already sort of been doing that
Robyn Bell: organically. It has happened.
Amanda Schlachter: Yeah.
Scott Keys: Now for the players, one of the reasons for the municipal was to go back to what they had been doing at their previous space, which was large scale. Mm-hmm. Broadway style musicals on a big stage. That seated a lot of people, but they. Become and with the new artistic director and I, I, you know, I don't know what their vision is. They're like, this theater in the round or this more intimate musical theater is sort of a niche that nobody else is doing. Manatee does Big, Venice does big normally. Yeah, they're gonna be down for a little while, but, and I, so I think that's why Payne Park, they sort of went, oh, mm-hmm , maybe we stick with this niche cuz Payne Park would seat a lot more people. That's the main thing is small theater also means small number of. Patrons.
Amanda Schlachter: Right.
Scott Keys: Each, you know,
Robyn Bell: well, I mean West Coast Black Theater, where do they seat? Two 30 maybe. Mm-hmm. . And they, you also, it means every night you get a sellout. I'm trying to sell 1000 seat hall and I'm a hundred seats short of a sellout. Sure, sure. 830 seats in the Neel Performing Arts Center. That's a lot of people on one night to put in. Right. So, you know, there's pluses and minuses.
Scott Keys: Right? Yeah. And, and they don't want to get really big again, cuz I think mm-hmm. , the old players theater used to see almost 500 people. Yeah. And I wanna get huge again, but right now they see about 1 35, 1 40. They'd like to be able to have more patrons.
Amanda Schlachter: Yeah.
Robyn Bell: Well, it's very exciting to see that maybe they're coming to a solution here.
Scott Keys: Yeah. Yeah.
Robyn Bell: I think the whole town is kind of been like, what's next? What's next
Scott Keys: here? What's, what's next? Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And I'm sure that they have shared that with, the new artistic director coming in, that that's kind of maybe the, niche that they wanna stay with.
Amanda Schlachter: Sure.
Scott Keys: And um, so it'll be exciting to see what happens.
Robyn Bell: Amanda, what is our timeline to get Scott in to direct for us?
Amanda Schlachter: Well, we'll have to talk about that. I mean, now that he's out and about, we've sort of talked about it before Yeah. Sort of via, email and things like that, so.
Scott Keys: Well, cause I, know India. Yeah. Um, and Frank, and, and when I saw that she was, I was like, oh, they, they're having sort of like guest directors. Yeah. And that would be really interesting. So, you know, I would love to do something like that.
Amanda Schlachter: Yeah. Well, and I was excited again, in my research. I didn't realize you were Meisner certified. I was like, oh, yeah, yeah. I'm, I'm a Meisner person. Yeah. Yeah. So Meisner's a style of acting training. Yeah.
Scott Keys: So it's, yeah. Yeah. So I have my certification
Amanda Schlachter: in it. I just love it. It's like, it just, it's, you know,
Robyn Bell: oh, you academics.
Scott Keys: Yeah. Yeah. And, you know, a lot of times people will say Meisner doesn't work for musical theater, but I have found ways to make it make sense. Yeah, absolutely. So yeah. I think all acting techniques are about, Delivering the most truthful and authentic performance you can. Yeah. I never think. one technique is right. Mm-hmm. , Sunny opened my eyes and, maybe this was a lot of Michael Checkoff stuff. Mm-hmm. , and I've started using that and going, oh, this is really, really cool. I wish I'd known about this for the 21 years that I taught at Booker. Well, I, but I did, I started to learn it from Sunny and I'm like, this is great stuff. Yeah. It's simple, understandable stuff.
Amanda Schlachter: Mm-hmm. , so I know that's the, it's like the fun world of acting training. I always say. Yeah. It's like,
Scott Keys: we're boring Robyn now. She's like,
Robyn Bell: no, no. I'm thinking maybe this summer I can take your acting class, Amanda, you're gonna teach her this summer.
Amanda Schlachter: I don't know if we're doing it this summer. Again,
Robyn Bell: you're gonna break my heart right here on the podcast.
Amanda Schlachter: I don't know. I don't know. We're talking about summer classes right now, and there's all, I don't know yet. The thing is, I don't know. That was the discussion when I spoke with the head of the department and
Robyn Bell: Well, I would love to, I, you know, I do a lot of improv on just with my pops shows that I do.
Scott Keys: Oh yeah.
Robyn Bell: Some of it is scripted, but most of it, I'm better off the cuff.
Scott Keys: You Yeah. You could never be totally improvisational. Yeah. You always have to have a. Yeah, something going on .
Amanda Schlachter: Yeah. I'm a big fan of like, prep the script and then be improvisational. I mean, depending, but you know, which you always also have when you conduct. I've seen it. You're very good about an outline and then you're in the moment, you're very, you're very Meisner Robyn. You, you just don't know that you are, you are. It's, yeah.
Scott Keys: Well, and I'm not a big, improv person. And whenever I tried it in high school, I always found that it very quickly went down paths that I'm like, you know, we were talking about censorship or I'd have to be,
Robyn Bell: this is not appropriate, Scott.
Scott Keys: No, I cannot do this. So, um, so I've always been a little nervous about improv, but that's not to say that I don't live device theater and Meisner, which is improv. It's just not, you hear improv and a lot of people immediately think, whose line is it anyway? And mm-hmm. , you know, the Waka Waka Waka. Yeah. Um, kind of improv and, but I, I love. creating new stuff. Mm-hmm. , and using the instinct, I mean, this Carol King review that I'm doing right now, I have these five actors and I'm like, I don't know, maybe your character just found out they're pregnant. I don't, I don't know. Maybe you're a widow and your husband died and that's why, and that's mm-hmm. , like, I'm just throwing stuff out and they're like, oh. Mm-hmm. . Oh, okay. Mm-hmm. , you know, like, I'm, I'm just giving them stuff saying take what works. I just told, one of the actors, cuz you know, James Taylor was a heroin addict. Mm-hmm. . And I said, you've just come outta rehab mm-hmm. , and you're trying to figure out what your next step is. That's what's brought you up to this rooftop. You're sleeping on somebody's couch in this building. They've told you that you're a schmuck. Get out. and they locked you out and you, you have arrived on this rooftop with the, your backpack and all you want is a fix, but you know, you just got outta Yeah. And that's what's brought you up here, you know? And he was like, oh, wow. Okay. That's a lot of stuff. But I was like, does it work for you? He's like, yeah, yeah. Totally. Gives me a point of view as to why I'm up here. Mm-hmm. .
Robyn Bell: Mm-hmm. . Well, I'm, I'm excited. I, I'd like to try to get down to Venice to see this, and then yet I'm sitting here in my head because I'm always looking for new Pops shows and something that's new and different, and we've talked about a Carol King, James Taylor show before. Mm-hmm. , but, you know, maybe not bring in quote unquote tribute, but could that translate to like a whole orchestra, sort of. We've done this with a Christmas Carol where we have the orchestra on stage and it's just the actors and, you know, costumes, maybe not sets and, you know,
Scott Keys: but Right. Oh no, that's, I think that's really, really cool. I mean, there was the lyric writing. Mm-hmm. and, and what they were trying to say and do with their music became very, very different than that sixties.
Robyn Bell: Yeah. Um, yeah. That's really cool.
Amanda Schlachter: And then when you do that, you can have Scott come and do a solo on his guitar.
Robyn Bell: There you go. I think we've got it. Yeah. Yeah. Well, listen, Scott Keys.
Scott Keys: Woo. That's overwhelming.
Robyn Bell: You are now officially part of the club.
Scott Keys: Thank you. And I talked about things that I had no idea I was gonna about
Robyn Bell: get it all out. Now's listen's happen if our listeners want to sort of follow you. And how do I go to a say, do you have like a website or a Facebook or Instagram? Are you anywhere on the worldwide web or the dark web?
Scott Keys: I have a . Uh, I'm totally on the dark web. No, um, I have a, I, yeah, I have a Facebook presence, but no, I do not have a website. Perhaps that's what I should spend my time doing. But I don't know. , um, I do not have a website. Um, but yeah, but I'm on, I'm, I'm on Facebook and, and Okay, well I'll,
Robyn Bell: I'll dig up your Facebook page. I'm not sure why we're not Facebook friends, but we're gonna change that today. I Okay. Or maybe we are.
Scott Keys: I thought, like I said,
Robyn Bell: you have like 8,000 friends. You, you,
Scott Keys: Robyn Bell podcast has been like on my bucket list since I heard my friend Alex SFUs. I was like, Alex is only 23. . Why am I not, why didn't I get asked?
Amanda Schlachter: It really is the podcast thing. It's the a thing.
Scott Keys: But I thought I had friended you. I, we'll, we'll, we'll Rey that.
Robyn Bell: We'll remedy this and I'll put a link, you know, so that anybody else that wants to be your friend. You got a friend and me. You. Oh, that's a different one.
Scott Keys: No, that's, yeah. when you're down in trouble.
Robyn Bell: I'm singing the, um, I'm a better singer from, I'm, I'm singing the one from Hollywood. Yeah. It's a friend and me.
Scott Keys: That's Randy Newman. Yes. And also a great songwriter, but
Robyn Bell: he is a indeed.
Scott Keys: Very different.
Robyn Bell: Well, it has been such a pleasure to finally get to meet you and learn about you and your magnificent and storied career. Amanda, thank you so much for making this happen today and bringing Scott to our podcast. Scott, we hope you can join us, , in the s Scf Theater Family one day soon.
Scott Keys: That'd be cool.
Robyn Bell: Do some sort of capacity and then we'll do a podcast about the show. You see, that's how it goes.
Amanda Schlachter: It sounds perfect. Yes.
Scott Keys: I love it.
Robyn Bell: Thanks so much, Amanda.
Amanda Schlachter: Thank you.
Scott Keys: Thanks Amanda.
Amanda Schlachter: Thank you guys.