"Furry Tales" proves popular with furs; Anthrocon board still has reservations
The new musical Furry Tales was presented as a staged reading this Thursday night, at the CLO Caberet in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Ten musical numbers were included within the ninety-minute show, which was performed in one act.
The board of Anthrocon, Inc. had been invited and was there in force, including chairman Uncle Kage, art show director PeterCat, and director of publications Xydexx. They weren't the only ones. Advance promotion in local press and the Anthrocon forums and LiveJournal led to significant demand for tickets, and almost every seat in the house was filled.
The musical involves the activities of four furry fans - MisoKitty2 (Emily Lynne Miller), BlueWolf22 (Tim Winski), Huggy_Bunny (Alivia Vereb-Owen) and Gorillanator (Damon Spencer) as they interact on a MUCK, and later prepare for and attend a furry convention hoping to meet up. Little time is given to convention activities - the focus is on social interaction between the characters.
The name given for this fictitious convention was ConFurence - also the name of a real furry convention which ran from 1989 to 2003. Ownership of this trademark still rests in Darrel Exline, who purchased it from founder Mark Merlino for $1 after ConFurence 10.
Much of the plot (and one two-part song) revolved around the malign influence of "Everything Awful" on one of the characters, a thinly-veiled reference to atrocity tourism website and paid forum Something Awful. One attendee mentioned that he had seen several goons (Something Awful forum members) in the crowd.
The show presented the fandom in a relatively positive light, though it did highlight (and exaggerate) several stereotypical furry personality traits. Musician James C. Carter appeared to acknowledge the presence of such stereotypes when challenged afterwards, explaining them as necessary for a work intended to be presented to a mundane crowd.
As for the night's mostly furry audience, reception was broadly positive, other than a few puns that fell flat and some segments - such as a hotel receptionist's confusion over attempts to check in under furry names - that didn't appear to have a firm basis in real life. Most songs received more than polite applause, and the finale received a standing ovation.
The performance organizers had sought official support for the musical, but Anthrocon declined to provide this without actually seeing the performance. While they appeared pleased with the general tone of the work, concerns appeared to remain over certain points, particularly the stereotypes displayed. Members of the board will be meeting with Furry Tales creators over Friday breakfast. The general audience also had the opportunity to give feedback through a questionnaire.
According to Carter, none of the performing members are furs, though most are under 25 and had heard of the fandom. Other crewmembers include lyricist Bill Medica, book writer Ty DeMartino, director Lora Oxenritter and music director Melissa Yanchak. The idea for the musical came to Carter and Medica at the Tonic Bar & Grill, the initial suggestion coming from a waitress.