“Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.”
That old adage provides the premise for a musical comedy getting its South Florida premiere at the Broward Center, June 13-15, to kick off Pride celebrations across the region.
“Little House on the Ferry,” by Robert Gould and Robert Arbelo, a 2011 off-Broadway hit, is set at the popular LGBT beach destination Fire Island on the day marriage equality becomes law in New York state.
Thirty-something Randall is caught in a love triangle between his commitment-averse attorney boyfriend and a young political activist with whom he falls in love at first sight. Throw in the veteran “house mother,” a local “steroid queen” and lots of Planter’s Punch, and the stage is set for a wacky weekend of sun, sand and gay marriage.
Gould, 45, a former New York administrative judge and attorney who now resides in Fort Lauderdale, never dreamed he would write a hit musical.
He grew up in New York and started vacationing on Fire Island 10 years ago. Gould fell in love with the relaxed summer atmosphere and knew it would be the perfect setting for some sort of story.
“I was thinking of writing a novel or a play—like so many people do—but when I came up with a story about a deer that jumped the fence on Fire Island, I knew it had to be a musical. It’s Fire Island,” explained Gould via telephone. Without spoiling the plot, he warns the deer plays a key role in the somewhat autobiographical show.
He wrote the book and lyrics and collaborated with Arbelo on the 15 songs and 10 reprises for the show. At first, he tried using parody lyrics to familiar tunes, but couldn’t get the performance rights. That setback actually set the stage for the final production.
Gould admitted, “I don’t even play the piano, but luckily I have a ‘musical sense’ and we worked well together (on the songs).”
He approached the songs like math problems, analyzing how each song related to the story and, likewise, how the story related to each of the songs.
Bringing the production to the Broward Center has been a “dream come true,” said Gould. The off-Broadway theater where the show premiered was a “crap hole, a dump. Even the bathroom was horrible.”
At the center, he is collaborating with professional actors, craftsmen and technicians in one of the leading facilities in the country.
“This has been an overwhelming experience,” Gould said, now setting his sights on getting the show performed in other cities where marriage equality is still a hope. He is also working with composers on more songs and taking a few minutes to bask in the success of “Little House on the Ferry.”
He concluded, “Now I really know what I want to do with my life….and it is a part of the show.”
“Little House on the Ferry” will be presented in the Abdo New River Room at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale, Friday and Saturday, June 13 and 14 at 7 p.m., and Sunday, June 15 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $30 at BrowardCenter.org.