BASED ON THE MEMOIR BY AUGUSTEN BURROUGHS
Please find below proposed synopsis and four initial demo recordings for the potential musical adaptation by
Matthew Loren Cohen & Michael Conley.
WORKING TITLE: Dry
DRAMATIC PREMISE: Facing your fears leads to hope
TONE: A dark musical comedy
SETTING: Augusten’s Manhattan Apartment and the Pride Institute in Duluth
THE TIME: 1996
CONCEPT: The piece is envisioned as a one-act musical set in a white room with walls and floors covered with empty one-liter scotch bottles. There is a semi-circle of chairs where the rehab patients and staff sit thorugh the majority of the piece (even when the action takes place outside of the rehab center). These actors all portray specific characters at the rehab center as well as becoming other characters in Augusten's life via role-playing and fantasy.
A bare stage. THE CAST (except for Augusten) sit in their chairs and repeat snippets of Augusten's colleagues confronting him about his alcoholism and its effects (SONG: YOU'RE A MESS*).
*Please note that all song titles apart from those with demos below are for reference only.
AUGUSTEN falls into the stage and we realize it is his Manhattan apartment. He drunkenly knocks over several bottles as he enters. He pours himself a drink and calls his friend Pighead and tells him that he was at the business end of an intervention at work. After booking a month's rehab at a Duluth center for Gay & Lesbian addicts, he decides to celebrate the occasion (SONG: DRINK).
Augusten arrives at the Pride Institute to meet WIDE NURSE PEGGY and instantly regrets his decision. Instead of the Frank Lloyd Wright-ish luxury compound he expected, he finds a dilapidated building full of patients with which he feels he has nothing in common (SONG: WHAT THE HELL HAVE I DONE).
He meets fellow addicts CREEPY KAVI, PREGNANT PAUL, and LOW-ESTEEM MARION. They welcome him as Wide Nurse Peggy explains that he will be given Librium to prevent physical shock of alcohol withdrawal (SONG: MOTHER’S LITTLE HELPER).
Augusten joins the rest of the patients for lunch (SONG: LUNCH OF THE LIVING DEAD) and makes up his mind to leave in the morning. He attends his first group session where he the patients and facilitators introduce him to the group's additional members, two rather tired looking stuffed animals (SONG: MONKEY WONKEY TIME).
Augusten is asked to detail his drinking history and does so only to come to the realization that he is indeed an alcoholic (SONG: BENADRYL).
Augusten thinks back to how he got where he was Pregnant Paul becomes AUGUSTEN’S FATHER as Augusten relives a drunken conversation he had where he confronted his father about a cigarette burn on his nose (SONG: TINY LITTLE SCAR).
Off the Librium, Augusten leaves the detox room for a regular room with Creepy Kavi who tells him he’s glad he’s here. (SONG: GRATEFUL).
Creepy Kavi becomes NEIL BOOKMAN, Augusten’s childhood acquaintance who repeatedly molested him. To cope with this, Augusten learned how to compartmentalize trauma in order to exist (SONG: WAKE ME WHEN IT’S OVER).
Augusten is still debating whether to stay when the patients are asked to relay any consequences of their addictions. SCARY RAE leads the session and gives her story of domestic violence and her addiction keeping her in a dangerous relationship. Augusten opens up by sharing his biggest secret: the fact his apartment is filled with three hundred empty bottles of scotch (SONG: 300 BOTTLES).
ENGLISH HAYDEN arrives at the Institute and he and Augusten instantly click. Augusten gives his light endorsement of the place as English Hayden is introduced to the stuffed animals (SONG: MONKEY WONKEY TIME (A SHORT REPRISE)).
It's Augusten's turn to talk about loss. Low-Esteem Marion becomes AUGUSTEN’S MOTHER. They are at the hospital where she lives after her severe stroke and Augusten tries to deal with their complicated relationship (SONG: YOU CAN’T HAVE ME BACK).
Over a game of Ping-Pong English Hayden tells Augusten his story as Augusten share's his writing assignment (SONG: A LETTER TO PIGHEAD). English Hayden becomes PIGHEAD as Augusten apologizes for his distant nature in dealing with Pighead’s HIV status.
Petrified that his time at the institute is almost over, English Hayden tells Augusten he thinks he’ll make it (SONG: YOU'RE A MESS (REPRISE)).
Getting ready to leave, Pregnant Paul as Augusten’s father, Creepy Kavi as Neil Bookman, and Low-Esteem Marion as Augusten’s mother tell Augusten he’ll never stay sober as English Hayden as Pighead tells him he’s in the hospital and things aren’t looking so good (SONG: THOSE VOICES IN YOUR HEAD).
All the characters revert to their former selves and tell Augusten to be hopeful (SONG: GRATEFUL (REPRISE)).
The cast exit and Augusten is back in his apartment. He finds one half-empty bottle amongst the hundreds of empty one. He sniffs it and pours it out as he begins to collect all of the bottles into recycling bags (SONG: 300 BOTTLES (REPRISE)),