Anyone who attended this year's Daniel Franzese film retrospective at L.A.'s Silent Movie Theater can attest that this actor's career spans a vivid spectrum: From the bloody crimsons of Bully (the 2001 Larry Clark version, not the new documentary), through the pastel pinks of Mean Girls, to the shadowy hues of I Spit On Your Grave. Now Franzese adds a new color to his palette: neon orange, the same pigment that radiates off the skin of Snooki and The Situation.
Last week, Jersey Shoresical: A Frickin' Rock Opera, starring and co-written by Franzese, began its Los Angeles run at the Hayworth. LA Weekly took the opportunity to pick Daniel's brain on this hilarious musical satire, NY Fringe Fest, and never playing the same character twice.
How was the idea for a Jersey Shore musical conceived?
I was looking for a way to be Italian and be funny and sing. When I met my writing partner, Hanna LoPatin, we knew this was the perfect project for both of us to collaborate on. We both have a twisted sense of humor and a love of musical theater.
What are some of the songs to expect?
“Snooki's Lament”; J-Woww sings a gospel number called “Grow Some Balls”; Ronnie and Sammi sing “I F'n Love You” and “I F'n Hate You”; and Sammi also has a ballad called “Bitch in a Bed.” There is a Greek chorus of three doo-wop girls called the Random Sluts that are drunk and straight from the boardwalk who narrate the show. People seem to love humming their songs as they leave. They sing one voicemail offering hot tub fun in exchange for chicken parmesan that is a particular favorite of mine.
Should audiences expect to see a South Park-esque crazed, animal-like “smoosh monster” version of Snooki?
Actually, no. This show loves Snooki. She is our sweet, lovable, meatball-ingenue Snookin' for love.
I know a lot of interesting performers have tackled the J-Woww part.
J-Woww is an original, and not many girls fit the bill. We have RuPaul's Drag Race star Willam Belli and Vegas drag star Derrick Barry but also Jessica Buttafuoco, the daughter of Mary Jo and Joey Buttafuoco, who is the only girl I met who can live up to the same about of sass a drag queen brings to the role.
Why should Jersey Shore fans see this show? Or should people who hate JS see this show?
Both will LOVE it. It's funny and not mean-spirited, but still very edgy. Our big villain is Angelina, and she guest-starred in our show Off-Broadway and loves it. We have found that if you like Jersey Shore or musical theater, you love this show. If you don't like to laugh and have fun, we suggest you go see Titanic 3-D instead.
Has your experience with Mean Girls and other comedies influenced your performance in Shoresical?
Sure. I think the more you use your timing and wit, the sharper it gets. Every experience flows into the next. Plus, I'm trying to get Lacey Chabert to guest-“grenade” for us. How awesome would that be? A “grenade” is the “ugly” girl that a friend throws themselves on top of when you are out, in order for you to talk to the hot friend. We have a surprise guest star each show play the grenade. Former grenades include Jason Ritter (Parenthood), Brendan Sexton III (Empire Records) and Joel Michealy (But I'm a Cheerleader).
How has your Italian background influenced Shoresical?
Well, let's just say I find some deep inner pleasure in being able to sing the word “mozzarella” on stage with passion.
For more info on The Jersey Shoresical: A Frickin' Rock Opera, which plays through April 19, see www.jerseyshoresical.com