When you give a bunch of superhero geeks and theater nerds a tantalizing glimpse of something like Rogers: The Musical on a Disney+ series, it is practically an invitation for us to take it too far. And take it too far we did at “Rogers: The Musical – Dragon Con Style: A Table Read” on Sunday at 1PM in Marriott M302–303.
The musical does exist, in a way. After showing it on their streaming service, Disney created a 30-minute version that was mostly music for use at Disneyland. The problem with that, according to panelist Sarah Rose, is that it was missing a lot of the story of the Avengers. That couldn’t be allowed. So Rose, with collaborator and panelist Kelley Harkins, decided to fix that. Rose—one of the co-admins of the Dragon Con Theater and Performing Arts Lovers (unofficial) fan group—fed ChatGPT a bunch of information about the story and let it spit out the Dragon Con version of Rogers: The Musical. Though it’s a musical in kind of name only. While there are songs in it, they are only the songs that have already been established and used inside the Marvel Cinematic Universe, specifically Star-Spangled Man with a Plan.
Not satisfied with just creating and editing the script, the panelists thought, why not get a panel together and have the audience do a table read? A chance to read and act out some campy nerd stuff? Yes, please! Audience members enthusiastically volunteered for each and every role, which stumped the moderators a little bit in figuring out how to equitably assign parts. But once all the roles and scripts were handed out, we got right down to business.
Not content with just reading the parts, we all (by silent agreement), got up in the front of the room to act out the scenes as they were written—AI cheese and all. No one held back, putting it all out there for everyone in the room as they walked through five scenes in Steve Rogers’s history, including passing the torch to the next generation of superheroes. At times, Rose (who was reading the stage directions) was so overcome with laughter that she had to take a moment to collect herself before she could continue. Though their names are unknown to me, I have to give a special shout out to the audience members who took on playing Steve Rogers and The Hulk. Both people seemed to put all their comedy chops into doing it, bringing a physicality that simply can’t be captured with words.
It was easily the wackiest fun of the weekend for this author, and I can only hope we get a chance to do it again.