The Big Bang

The Big Bang - Licensing

Sometime around 1993, Boyd Graham and I were sitting around my place when I said to him something like, "Ya know, we really oughta write something for ourselves to perform." I didn't really mean it, but I sort of did.

I didn't give it much thought but a light turned on in Boyd's head. He knew this could be a show to which we could bring the “kitchen sink” and let loose, entirely. Aside from lyric writing, he'd be free to display his theatricality and unending inventiveness. Like "Eating Raoul" (but more so), which we had written previously, I would write in every possible genre. And between the two of us, we'd play just about every person (plus a few animals) who had ever lived.
 

The reason for this rather large canvas was the subject matter: the entire history of the universe from The Big Bang to the present day. The conceit of the show is as follows: Boyd Graham and Jed Feuer, lyricist, composer, respectively, hope to lure investors (that's you, the audience) into backing their new musical, "The Big Bang," which acts out the entire history of recorded time. The production they envision will feature a cast of hundreds, costumes by the thousands and 302 prosthetic devices. Its twelve hour length, which will take up four of your evenings, is budgeted at $83.5 million.

But for the moment, the team of Feuer & Graham is a little cash-strapped, so they're forced to act out this backer's audition by themselves in the living room of a borrowed apartment in Manhattan. As a result, they're forced to improvise everything: costumes/sets/props, (using anything, perhaps we should say just about everything, in this borrowed apt.) they can lay their hands on. Their old pal, Albert, is the pianist.

For 90 intermissionless minutes, they demonstrate how they'd do absolutely anything it takes to get their dream fully financed (including giving out free food and during the Garden of Eden scene, offering a modicum of frontal nudity).

Among others, Jed & Boyd portray Nefertiti, Jimi Hendrix, Minnehaha, Julius Caesar, Leo (a Christian-eating lion), Napoleon, Josephine, two Jews who helped build the pyramids, the Virgin Mary, Shanghai Lil, Christopher Columbus, Mohandas Gandhi's mother, Attila the Hun, Adam, Eve, Tokyo Rose, Queen Isabella, Pocahontas, Janis Joplin, and Eva Braun.
 
In April, 1997, "Free Food & Frontal Nudity" (as it was titled then) premièred at the PSI Theatre at the Durham Arts Council in Durham, North Carolina to rave reviews. There we were, to our amazement, on stage, singing, dancing, changing costumes a thousand times. And the critics were going for it!
 
Donald Loze, the producer, decided the next stop would be The Cable Car Theatre in San Francisco. Again, raves. They raved about everything but the title, Free Food & Frontal Nudity which they deplored. Although it now appears quite tame - after all, between The Vagina Monologues, Urinetown, Puppetry of the Penis, and Menopause, the musical, to name but a few, one could hardly quibble with Free Food & Frontal Nudity - we felt it had to go.
 
Needless to say, finding a strong title for a show about the entire history of civilization was challenging and Free Food & Frontal Nudity did at least refer to the desperation of the two authors who would offer anything including free food and even frontal nudity to finance their show.
Given that it's widely accepted that everything started with The Big Bang, we went with it. Conveniently, it also happens to be the title of the opening number.
 
In 2000, "The Big Bang" opened in New York City at the Douglas Fairbanks Theatre and has been playing all over ever since. 

—Jed Feuer 2003