If you go
What: "The Legend of Ginger and Billy Joe: The Stock Car Musical"
When: 8 p.m. today, Friday, Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday; 8 p.m. Oct. 4-6
Where: Capitol Center Theater
Tickets: $10 for adults, $6 for students
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Mark Scarpelli may have been messing with his theatrical partner, Dan Kehde, in tossing out a two-word idea for a musical.
"Mark came up with this idea about 10 years ago," Kehde recalled. "We were in the middle of writing 'Romeo and Juliet' and he said, 'Why don't we do a stock car musical?' "
This spring, as the two brains behind Contemporary Youth Arts Company productions were revisiting "American in Paradise," Scarpelli said it again.
"Why don't we do a stock car musical?"
"Are you serious?" Kehde recalls asking. Scarpelli was, or at least Kehde took him to be serious.
And with those two words -- no plot suggestion, no musical idea -- Kehde set to work.
"It all starts like that," he said, laughing about his longtime collaborator.
"I went back and wrote the scenario."
Kehde said he and Scarpelli have a system for writing that works well. Kehde takes the lead with dialogue and lyrics, including notes for what type of music he's hearing in his head when he writes.
"I put notes all over them. I even put time signatures, like if I hear it as a 3/ 4 time signature," Kehde said.
Scarpelli then takes over, often working with Kehde to refine the lyrics as he writes the music. They communicate most often by email.
"We don't talk. I don't see him. I don't even know where he lives," Kehde joked.
Kehde says the premise of "Stock Car Musical" is an age-old one: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy tries to get girl back. The boy in this case is a race car driver who promised his mother on her deathbed he wouldn't race -- a promise made after his dad died in a race.
You can guess that the action starts when things change.
Kehde said the show is intended to be funny, tongue-in-cheek stuff and he hopes the audience agrees. Starring roles are played by CYAC veterans Maddy Gourevitch and Travis Stephens (now of the Kevin Brian Band out of Nashville), along with a bunch of talented teens.
"I have the best cast in the world," Kehde said, adding everyone has been receptive to changes and tweeks that are part of breaking out a brand-new show.
Scarpelli, the music man of the operation, has put together a bluegrass combo for the show.
"It is very, very high energy and very fast-paced," Kehde said. "I have a lot of young people in this one, a lot of 14- and 15-year-olds."
Contact writer Monica Orosz at mon...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4830.