“The Unpredictable Adventures of Henry Hicklebee”


TED SIMONS: PRO-MUSICA ARIZONA IS A NORTH PHOENIX THEATER GROUP THAT SPECIALIZES IN LIVE MUSICAL-THEATER PERFOMANCES, INCLUDING "THE UNPREDICTABLE ADVENTURES OF HENRY HICKLEBEE," AN INTERACTIVE ONE-MAN SHOW WITH ORCHESTRAL ACCOMPANIMENT. WE WELCOME ADAM STICH, WHO WROTE THE SHOW, AND ACTOR MATT NEWHARD, WHO IS HENRY HICKLEBEE.

TED SIMONS: GOOD TO HAVE YOU BOTH HERE. THANKS FOR JOINING US.

TED SIMONS: "THE UNPREDICTABLE ADVENTURES OF HENRY HICKLEBEE," WHAT IS THIS ABOUT?

ADAM STICH: ITS MORE CONCERT THAN SHOW. IT'S HIS QUEST TO FIND HIS PARENTS AND HIS ORIGIN. IT TAKES THE FORM AS ALMOST THE CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE AS THE SITUATION UNFOLDS AND THE AUDIENCE VOTES ON WHAT THEY WANT HIM TO DO.

TED SIMONS: SO THE AUDIENCE HAS THE OPPORTUINITY TO SAY I WANT HIM TO DO THIS, THIS, OR THIS? OR HOW DOES THAT WORK

ADAM STICH: MATT WILL COME ON STAGE. FOR EXAMPLE, IN THE FIRST ONE, THE ORCHESTRA PLAYS THE OVERTURE AND MATT COMES ON TO DO THE SPEECH. AT WHICH POINT THE AUDIENCE HAS TO DECIDE IF HENRY WILL GO TO NEW YORK OR MIAMI. IF YOU WANT HENRY TO GO TO NEW YORK, TEXT A. MIAMI, TEXT B. PEOPLE CAN PULL THEIR CELLPHONES AND VOTE AND THE RESULTS WILL APPEAR.

TED SIMONS: LITERALLY, ON A MONITOR.

ADAM STICH: THE RESULTS APPEAR IN REALTIME. THE RESULTS ARE CHANGING. AT SOME POINT WE CUT OFF VOTING AND SAY, HE'S GOING TO BARCELONA. THAT CHANGES THE MUSIC THE CHOIR OR ORCHESTRA WOULD PERFORM.

TED SIMONS: WHEN YOU ARE OUT THERE AND IT'S TIME TO VOTE ST. PETERSBURG OR BARCELONA, YOU HAVE TO WAIT FOR THIS TO COME TO FRUITION.

MATT NEWHARD: YES.
TED SIMONS: AND ARE YOU READY FOR IT? YOU HAVE TO KNOW EVERY SINGLE OPTION.

MATT NEWHARD: I HAVE TO MEMORIZE ABOUT 30 DIFFERENT MONLOGUES. ONLY ABOUT 20 OF THEM GET SPOKEN DEPENDING ON WHERE THE VOTING TAKES US.

TED SIMONS: ARE THEY ALWAYS GOING TO BARCELONA? IS IT ALWAYS GOING ONE DIRECTION OR IS IT A CRAP SHOOT?

MATT NEWHARD: IT DEPENDS. WE ACTUALLY DID A PERFORMANCE OF THIS TWO YEARS AGO AND WE DID TWO DIFFERENT DAYS THERE WERE TWO DIFFERENT OUTCOMES.

TED SIMONS: DOES IT EVER SURPRISE YOU? ARE YOU EVER THINKING TO YOURSELF I HOPE THEY PICK SAINT PETERSBURG?
MATT NEWHARD: YES THERE ARE TIMES I HOPE THEY PICK THE SHORTER, EASIER MONOLOGUE.

TED SIMONS: AS FAR AS THE ORCHESTRA, THEY HAVE TO KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING, DON'T THEY?

ADAM STICH: THE ORCHESTRA AND CHOIR HAVE LEARNED 40 TUNES, 40 SONGS OF WHICH THEY PERFORM ABOUT HALF ON ANY GIVEN DAY. TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION, THERE ARE CERTAIN THINGS THAT COME BACK AROUND, BUT A LOT OF IT IS -- ESPECIALLY THE OUTCOMES ARE CONTROLLED BY THE AUDIENCE VOTING.

TED SIMONS: ARE YOU EVER SURPRISED WHERE HENRY GOES?

ADAM STICH: I AM. WHEN I WROTE IT, THERE ARE PARTS HE HAS TO CHOOSE TO FOLLOW THIS LEAD OR THE OTHER. I ALWAYS THINK, IF IT WAS ME, I WOULD DO THIS. I WAS SURPRISED LAST TIME WE DID IT THAT OCCASIONALLY THE AUDIENCE WENT IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION OF WHAT I THOUGHT.

TED SIMONS: AS AN ACTOR, WE ARE TALKING, PLEASE USE YOUR CELLPHONES IN THE THEATER. AS AN ACTOR, I IMAGINE THERE ARE TIMES WHEN EVERYONE IS LOOKING NOT AT YOU. DISCONCERTING, ISN'T IT?

MATT NEWHARD: IT'S NOT THAT BAD BECAUSE THE AUDIENCE IS INTRIGUED, USUALLY, WHERE HENRY IS GOING. THEY ARE FOCUSED ON ME. IT'S FUNNY BECAUSE THEY HAVE TO DIG IN THEIR PURSE. NOW IT'S TIME TO VOTE AND FIGURE THAT OUT.

TED SIMONS: SOMETIMES YOU PROBABLY DON'T KNOW IF ANYONE IS PAYING ATTENTION. YOU KNOW IF THEY ARE ON THEIR PHONE, THEY ARE PAYING ATTENTION. THEY ARE INVOLVED.

ADAM STICH: YES, THAT WAS PART OF THE, WHEN I FIRST DEVELOPED THE IDEA, I WAS TALKING TO MY WIFE WHO IS BRILLIANT. I SAID TO HER, I WANT TO DO A PLOT-BASED CONCERT. MY IDEA WAS TO DO A CONCERT WITH A THROUGH LINE AND STORY LINE. THE MUSIC WAS INTERSPERSED WITH THE MONOLOGUES. IT WAS MY WIFE'S IDEA TO MAKE IT A CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE CONCEPT WITH PEOPLE VOTING. WE HAVE BEEN WORKING ON AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT SO THAT'S BEEN A HUGH LEVEL OF PRIORITY FOR US AT PRO MUSIC ARIZONA. I STARTED THINKING, WHAT WOULD BE THE BEST WAY TO ENGAGE THESE PEOPLE AND THE VOTING FOR RESULTS. THEN IT FEELS LIKE THEY HAVE OWNERSHIP. THEY WERE CONTROLLING WHAT THIS PERSON DOES. GRANTED, EACH PERSON DOESN'T GET TO CONTROL. YOU ARE CONTROLLING IT COLLECTIVELY.

TED SIMONS: WHEN THEY FLASH THE RESULTS, DO YOU HEAR GROANS?

ADAM STICH: OH, YEAH.

TED SIMONS: HOW DO YOU HANDLE THAT?

MATT NEWHARD: YOU GO ON WITH WHAT THEY HAVE VOTED. THERE HAVE BEEN DISAPPOINTED RESULTS.

TED SIMONS: SOUNDS LIKE A WILD WEST PERFORMANCE IN A SALOON SOMEWHERE. EVERYONE IS YELLING AND SCREAMING. CHALLENGING, AND REWARDING?

MATT NEWHARD: IT'S ACTUALLY VERY UNIQUE, SO IT'S A LOT OF FUN BECAUSE I DON'T KNOW WHERE I'M GOING.

TED SIMONS: THAT'S AN INTERESTING THING FOR AN ACTOR TO SAY. REAL QUICKLY, PRO MUSIC ARIZONA, GIVE US A BRIEF CAPSULE, WHAT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT HERE?

ADAM STICH: IT'S A 15-YEAR-OLD ORGANIZATION FOUNDED IN ANTHEM, MOSTLY COMMUNITY MEMBERS AND PROFESSIONALS. WE DO FOUR CONCERTS A YEAR, GIVE OR TAKE. WE HAVE 60 IN THE CHOIR AND 40 IN THE ORCHESTRA.

TED SIMONS: THAT'S GOOD PARTICIPATION. CONGRATULATIONS. I KNOW THE SHOW IS A BIG SUCCESS. EVERYONE SEEMS TO LOVE IT. THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE. WE APPRECIATE IT.

ADAM STICH: TICKETS AT PMZA.ORG.



TED SIMONS: TUESDAY ON ARZONA HORIZON. HEAR ABOUT EFFORTS TO IMPROVE JUSTICE IN ARIZONA. AND WE'LL TELL YOU ABOUT HOW PLANT ROOT BACTERIA CAN HELP INCREASE YIELDS EVEN DURING DROUGHT. THAT'S AT 5:30 AND TEN ON THE NEXT "ARIZONA HORIZON. "

THAT IS IT FOR NOW. I'M TED SIMONS. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US. YOU HAVE A GREAT EVENING.

ProMusica Arizona, which brings live music to those in the North Phoenix Area, will present “The Unpredictable Adventures of Henry Hicklebee.” It’s a one-man show that features chorale and orchestra accompaniment as local actor Matt Newhard portrays a young man embarking on a worldwide journey to find his family’s roots. The audience participates by texting to select the path of his journey, and the music will be adjusted to depict the country chosen. Adam Stich, who wrote the show, and actor Matt Newhard will tell us more about “The Unpredictable Adventures of Henry Hicklebee.”

Sponsor message:

In this segment:

Adam Stich: Writer
Matt Newhard: Actor

Sponsor message:

Sign up to receive the Arizona PBS Insider

Get up-to-the-minute information about your favorite programs and learn more about Arizona PBS news and events.

'Nature' highlights orphaned animal babies who get a second chance

This heartwarming and emotional "Nature" tale of orphaned animals getting a second chance at life airs Wednesday, Dec. 5 & 12, at 7 p.m. on Arizona PBS.

'Victoria' Season 3: A fearless monarch faces down crisis

Victoria Season 3 on Masterpiece begins Sunday Jan. 13 at 8 p.m.

It is 1848, and revolution is breaking out across Europe. In Britain, one woman stands between order and chaos. Sundays at 8 p.m., beginning Jan. 13.

'Looking for Fred Astaire' explores a complicated Hollywood legend

"Looking for Fred Astaire" explores the life of the dancing legend and Hollywood star, whose work with Hollywood's biggest starlets sometimes left him frustrated and depressed.