The Shaggs!  The Movie of the Musical!

The Shaggs! The Movie of the Musical!

At the beginning of our current century, I began work on the stage musical The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World.  Along the way there were readings, workshops and productions at The Powerhouse in Los Angeles; LookingGlass Theatre in Chicago; NY Musical Theatre Festival (in New York); GEVA in Rochester; TheatreWorks in Palo Alto; and The Manhattan Theatre Club (New York again).  All of this led up to the acclaimed Off-Broadway New York Theatre Workshop/Playwrights Horizons co-production in 2011. 

Have things been quiet since?  Well, Bring On The Noise!

The Shaggs in Concert

Our musical will be on the boards again at the Bridge Street Theatre, July 11-21 in Catskill, New York!  Featuring the Original Austin Wiggin from Los Angeles, Steven Patterson!  Schedule your summer vacation around this one – book your lodgings now!  (Musicals require the use of exclamation points in their titles and all press materials)

Bookwriter and co-lyricist Joy Gregory (Joan of Arcadia, Madame Secretary, Switched at Birth, Swingtown) and I have been working closely with Producer/Director Ken Kwapis (One Mississippi, The Office, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Freaks and Geeks, A Walk in the Woods) on bringing The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World to the screen, and things are really heating up.  We’ve got a great team, and have now cast the entire Wiggin Family:

Steve Zahn as Austin Wiggin.   (You’ve seen him in Dallas Buyers Club, Reality Bites, That Thing You Do!, Out of Sight, Riding in Cars with Boys, Treme, and even War for the Planet of the Apes.)

Allison Tolman as Annie Wiggin.  (Her portrayal of police officer Molly Solverson in the first season of the FX television series Fargo earned her Emmy and Golden Globe nominations.  You’ve seen her on Brooklyn 99, Castle Rock, Drunk History and Good Girls, among many others.)

Elsie Fisher as the indomitable daughter Dot.  (She starred in the hit movie Eighth Grade (Golden Globe Nomination), while her voice is all over the Despicable Me films.  She also presented at this year’s Academy Awards.)

Sydney Lucas as the fiery Betty.  (For her work in the Broadway hit “Fun Home” she received a Tony nomination, Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel nominations, and an Obie award for her performances.)

Elena Kampouris as the tender and fierce Helen.  (She is known for her roles in Men, Women & Children, NBC’s American Odyssey, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, and Before I Fall. She made her Broadway debut in Les Liaisons Dangereuses as Cécile Volanges.)

Other teammates include music producer Craig Wedren (School of Rock, Velvet Goldmine), Music Supervisor Howard Paar (20th Century Women, Diary of a Teenage Girl, Dogtown & Z Boys), and Producer Alex Beattie (Happyish). 
We’ve been busy writing an entirely new catalogue of songs to fit the needs of the film screenplay, and I can’t WAIT to share them.  I’ve been happily rooting through the songs of the 60’s like a french pig snuffling truffles, cadging the ethos, the style, the gestalt of the songwriters and bands and producers of the era.  The result, filtered through my ears and cortex and fingers, are some of my proudest accomplishments – Brand-new Pop songs of the 60’s, available Now in the Future (which is now, or, at least, soon).
With our cast in place and the music simmering, we’re just waiting for the last chunk of financing and pixie dust to settle.  And then, I’ll be sharing a box of popcorn with you all to celebrate as the lights dim and we all turn off our cellphones together.  How do I like my popcorn?  Buttered, with a hint of truffle oil.  Oink on!


  1. Edward Marion

    Is “The Shaggs “being licensed for stage productions? Thanks.
    P.S. Whatever you do, please don’t omit Impossible You from the film; it’s a fabulous song.
    Ed Marion
    (I am not a robot.)

    1. gunnar

      Ed – it is being licensed – are you wanting to produce it? Let me know, I’ll get you in touch with the right people :). “Impossible You” is not yet on the cutting room floor…I love that song too!
      (Robot am I not either)

      1. Eddie Marion

        Gunnar, thanks for responding.
        I have just been able to set up a call with Joy Gregory for Saturday.
        Yes, I’d love to see it produced locally.
        (I played a robot on stage once.)

    1. gunnar

      Hi Peter,
      Some years back a production company had the rights to do a straight biopic, but that project never moved. Now we’re working on a musical version. All the best,

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