In the not-so-distant-future, greed, pollution, and The Ancient Fire of Death and Despair have made Earth’s surface uninhabitable, forcing the human race to survive underground in a criminal society. At least, that’s the case in Thug Tunnel, an ’80s-style rock musical created by LA’s musical improv troupe Robot Teammate & The Accidental Party.

The group’s spacetime odyssey musical Timeheart was the highest-grossing show at last year’s Fringe Festival, earning a sold-out run and numerous nominations including “Best Musical”. RT&AP will debut Thug Tunnel, another delightfully quirky, perfectly personalized show filled with their signature hilarious, epic music at this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival.

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RT&AP have performed hundreds of improvised musicals, but three years ago, an audience member shouted out “Thug Tunnel!” and the name stuck with the group long after the one-time performance.

“It was a suggestion yelled out by a family friend of one of our members, Miles Crosman,” Thug Tunnel director and RT&AP member Molly Dworsky explained. “The name had been a joke in Miles’ circle for years as a fake movie he would try to trick people into thinking he was working on out in LA.”

That evening’s performance held particular weight for Dworsky and teammate Nikki Mueller as well. “The night before…Nikki and I had auditioned and been accepted onto Robot Teammate. She and I sat next to each other in the audience and marveled at what we were going to be a part of.”

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The group chose to create a version of Thug Tunnel: The Musical for Fringe due to its “great, fleshed out story with memorable characters, names, relationships and specific details” from their improvised performance. “Also, it was just plain hilarious,” Dworsky laughed. The team has expanded on what they loved about that show, adding in elements to give it more depth and structure, although a lot of what was originally improvised remains in the show, a testament to the team circa 2013.

Creating a scripted musical gave the improv team an opportunity to craft roles suited to each unique member. The show’s heroine Petunia (Kat Primeau), her best friend/sidekick Panther (Chris Bramante), and the tyrant ruler Stabby Rick (Dave Reynolds) were characters in that first show, and the group built around that core. The cast is rounded out with Yogurt Stew, Breakin’ Necks Becky, and Trash, “a sort of narrator/homeless guy/guide figure,” Dworsky explained.

Characters were finalized during individual writing sessions where a lot of the directing work happened. “People would share with me their preferred way of saying things so I could alter the script to reflect who they wanted to be,” Dworsky said. “It was more of a page-to-stage approach than we’ve ever done together, which was a learning experience.”

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Dworsky’s favorite part, however, is the music. Musical director Sam Johnides worked individually with each person to craft their showstoppers.

“How we’ve decided the songwriting goes in our scripted shows is whoever’s singing the song writes the lyrics, brings them to Sam, the involved parties collaborate to find a sound they mutually like, and then tweaks happen from there,” explained Dworsky. “Our newest member, musician Branson NeJame, has also been crucial in helping us shape our lyrics and the ideas in our heads into something euphonious and catchy.”

Thug Tunnel promises to be a whirlwind hour of non-stop musical adventure with “tons of laughs and a whole garbage heap of heart.” The team beams with pride when they discuss “their most entertaining and meaningful work,” a testament to the amount of time and hard work each invested and an example of true collaboration at its best.

Thug Tunnel previews this Thursday, June 9th, and runs until June 20th, so grab your tickets today before this one-of-a-kind musical is sold out!

For more information:

Robot Teammate & The Accidental Party