By Clare Mulroy
This article was first published October 12, 2020 in Tagg Magazine here.
There’s not much in the category of musical theater podcasts, but Leigh Holmes Foster and Ellie Brigida of the Lez Hang Out podcast are determined to become a name in the genre.
The two are using their background in theater and music to write and produce “The Flame,” a queer romantic comedy musical podcast that will be released summer 2021. According to a press release, the eight episode series follows two women: Jamie, a queer bar owner, and Sam, the woman selling the building that the bar inhabits, and the relationship that sparks between them.
The idea came from their podcast Lez Hang Out, where Foster and Brigida regularly write original songs based on lesbian and queer movies. When they realized they were enjoying the music side of their production, they created a plan to branch out into new opportunities.
So what is a queer romantic comedy musical podcast? Foster and Brigida don’t exactly know — but they’re quickly finding out.
“There’s not a set answer for what that means yet, we’re kind of getting to invent it a little bit as we go,” says Foster. “It’s been this really fun game to say, ‘What are the things we love about musical theater, and how do you re-envision them or adapt them or capture that same thing in an audio-only setting?’”
The core production team is Brigida (Scoring and Music Producer) and Foster (Composer), joined by Caitlyn Clear (Screenwriter) and Valerie Rose Lohman (Executive Producer). The two brought in Clear, who Brigida said has a “knack for comedy” to help write the eight episode arc. They’ve written nearly 20 songs to accompany the storyline, which will be split between two four-episode acts.
As for recording the podcast, Lohman is going to work with the actors through guided Zoom sessions, an adaptation made by the voiceover community during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The arts are hurting, and especially the theater world is hurting right now, so it’s a great opportunity for us to be able to hire actors to do something that is theater, but that is safe, that they can do from home,” Foster explains.
With recording a fictional podcast comes uncharted territory for the pair, like hiring a paid team of actors. Foster says their team has been “blown away” by the support on their recently launched crowdfunding campaign. The team also recently announced two of their cast members: Chilina Kennedy as “Rachel” and Jesse Nowack as “Harold.”
“We’re not network produced, we do everything ourselves, the team is us, we’ve learned everything as we go,” says Brigida. “Now we’re venturing into this whole other world of doing a SAG project, we’ve never worked with the union before.”
One of their priorities is maintaining queer representation. According to Foster, the whole production team—including the actors—are part of the queer community. They’re placing an emphasis on paying queer talent, she said. The storyline itself will also make waves in such a new category of podcast production; Brigida is excited for audiences to hear a “positive queer love story.”
“There’s something about that type of Broadway music that just hits you immediately,” says Foster. “I think for queer people, we’ve had so few of those songs where we actually feel represented.”