In 2016 Samuel Hammersley co-wrote Simpleton: The Legend of President Trump (winner of Fringe 2016’s Best Musical award) with Thom Mesrobian and Seth Brown. This year Sam brings us a new original comedy Punslingers: A Western Wordplay Musical for 7 performances in the Yellow Venue.
Can you tell us a little bit about your show? Punslingers: A Western Wordplay Musical is a scripted comedic musical set in the Old Western town of Zingfield; a place where puns can hurt like bullets! We took the essence of our monthly game show (Punslingers: A Game Show for Word Nerds) and adapted it to the stage. All the typical western tropes are present (a city-slicker out of his element, an over-confident sheriff, a villainous outlaw wreaking havoc, a wise old bartender). Think of the movie Airplane!, but with saloon drunks! We have a brilliantly talented cast, who have thankfully signed up to get Fringe viewers laughing as they sing cheesey, groan-inducing puns.
Our cast: Brett Waldon, Michael Carr, T. Robert Piggott, Melissa Vasquez, Charles Stevens, Hannah Beth Neal, Mark V Harriot, and Gregory Coleman. It’s directed by Ana Eligio Hammersley, co-written by myself and Seth Brown, with music by Zachary Simpson and Kristin Eley. Our Stage Manager is Tiffany Lyn Meadows, our scenic/graphic designer is Derek Marunowski, and our costume designer is Laura Young.
What about Orlando Fringe appeals to you as an artist? I see Orlando Fringe as a wonderful annual creative outlet. Whether I’m performing or writing, it is a pleasure and an honor to get to share in the city’s theatrical art scene and mingle with such talented, kind, and supportive people for two weeks. I moved to Orlando 6 years ago and have been itching to put out an original show of my own. It’s not every day that an artist can have a platform as big and an audience as receptive as this!
Has Orlando Fringe enabled/enhanced your artistic career in any way? I have met countless contacts and new friends through Fringe; contacts that have led to performance opportunities during all the other months of the year! I’ve done beatboxing, freestyle rapping, script writing, and most importantly, a ton of networking with some fantastically talented folks. Orlando’s talent pool cannot be understated; not to get political, but it’s a shame that Hollywood / TV aren’t here filming. Fringe is an annual reminder of this!
How long and in what ways have you been involved with Orlando Fringe? I started as a fan, watching my wife (Ana Eligio Hammersley) rap as Amy March in Lil’ Women: A Rap Musical in 2013. I first performed in Tony Bolante’s Liquid Courage – a DIY musical in 2014. And of course, in 2016 I co-wrote the lyrics for Simpleton, which was a joy.
What piece of advice would you give to a first-time Fringe artist and/or patron? See as many shows as you can afford, and be willing to take a chance on something that looks interesting! And, of course, network your butt off; grab a beer and chat it up with a stranger. You never know who you’ll come across.
Have you performed/produced at any other Fringes? I have performed at the Frigid Fringe in NYC. It was a joy to be in the Big Apple, but I missed the fact that Orlando Fringe has (almost) everything conveniently in walking distance.
Besides your show for the May festival, what other projects are you involved in? Punslingers: A Game Show for Word Nerds happens nearly monthly at SAK Comedy Lab; it’s a really fun, nerdy time, and anyone can perform (or just come for the groaners!). I’m also in the Straight Outta Food Truck show, rapping alongside some of Orlando’s most talented hip-hop/improvisers!
What’s next for your production company? Anything top-secret you can hint about? Punslingers (both the scripted musical and the unscripted game show) will continue to grow, and we’d love to see it become a big, annual event. There are similar pun-themed shows in other corners of the U.S., and we think this has potential to draw in crowds from all over!
Any last words? Go see Punslingers: A Western Wordplay Musical at Fringe; that’s a good buy, and this is goodbye!