Brendon Urie & Co. are the ones behind the theatrical nuances of the band’s music. Shouldn’t they have the right to entrust the director that they see fit to carry out their creative vision—if they even want a musical based on their music made at all? Misinformation and hype aside, it seems that on some level, the fans aren’t buying into the idea of this going forward without the band. Perhaps that’s why the musical’s Indiegogo campaign has only reached $745 of its $20,000 goal.
Is it okay to use a band’s music, legacy and likeness for the notoriety of your own project? That certainly seems to be the trend now. Introducing: Black Parade: The Musical, a new fan production by Alexandra Conroy, based on the acclaimed album by My Chemical Romance. It’s another case of a musical based on a band’s album being produced without the band’s knowledge. This production even managed to grab an article in Kerrang! (Feb. 19, 2014 issue). The article reads, “The Black Parade prepares to march into theaters around the world.” Not likely. Good luck getting past Warner Bros. on that one. “If Gerard [Way]’s reading this, there’s a part perfect for you!” Conroy says in the article. Wouldn’t that be nice: an appearance by the actual band members? That was the case with American Idiot: Vocalist/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong occasionally performed in the musical throughout its run. That’s the benefit of having the band involved.
Panic! is slated to make its theatrical debut March 24 at 54 Below: Broadway’s Supper Club in New York City. So far, the creative team seem to have found a way around needing the band’s permission—if only temporarily. “What we’re doing March 24 is actually a concert,” says Acar, “so there’s nothing that’s related to the book. It’s going to actually just be songs in the style of Panic! The Musical, performed by the people who happen to be in our show.”
Moving forward, it will certainly be interesting to see which (if any) forces collide over the debut. Will the band continue to ignore the musical’s existence? Perhaps this is their best strategy if they wish not to draw attention in its direction. What about the band’s label? Fueled By Ramen likely shares ownership of Panic!’s songs to some capacity, and labels aren’t exactly known for letting their properties be used without a license.
No matter what happens, the musical has accomplished one undeniable feat: It’s shown us that there is a demand for such a production, and it’s a demand that Acar and her team are certainly willing to satisfy. “I never like to put limits on any kind of creative work. I don’t want to say we’re only going to go to Broadway, because I can see this show doing a tour. I can even see the show going to film and being a movie. There’s so much possibility and potential.”