New Musicals Inc. launches their musical web series Neighborhood Heroes Project with “What Gets Thrown At Us,” spotlighting Geoff Davis, a North Hollywood handyman.
Geoff Davis never thought he would be the subject of a musical. He’s a revered handyman in North Hollywood, California, and adored by everyone on the block.
New Musicals Inc. just created a digital musical about Geoff, “What Gets Thrown At Us,” as part of a new musical web series honoring “ordinary neighborhood heroes” whose perspective on life is interesting and enlightening.
“Neighborhood Heroes” is a web series that will honor the everyday heroes in our own neighborhoods.
How Does It Work?
They pair their honorees with an artistic team comprised of a composer, lyricist, director, and dramaturg, and shape their story into a short musical retelling in a digital platform.
Sponsored in part by a grant from the North Hollywood North East Neighborhood Council, this episode is part of NMI’s newly launched Neighborhood Heroes Project.
“The Neighborhood Heroes Project puts focus on the ordinary person to show us how much we can learn from each other,” said NMI Executive Director and series producer, Scott Guy.
“In these extraordinary times, many of our neighbors have shown astonishing resilience, tenacity, and determination to stay true to their personal pathways.”
When NMI was awarded the grant in early 2020, and began looking for the right subject for the first episode in the series, they realized the perfect subject was working to replace some old lighting ballasts in their own building. “Geoff started telling us how many folks were depending on him, at the height of the pandemic,” says Elise Dewsberry, NMI’s Artistic Director. “He told me he scrounged up so much handyman work that he was employing several OTHER handymen as well. I was so impressed and moved, I began asking him whether we could honor him with a musical.”
The resulting musical, “What Gets Thrown At Us,” tells the true story Davis’ difficult turbulent past, how he mended his family, built his own business, and is still giving back to his community. It has book by Douglas Haverty (Artistic Director of North Hollywood’s own Group Rep Theatre); music and lyrics by James A. Goins; it is directed by John Mitchell, and features performer Jimmer Bolden. The episode can be viewed for free here: http://nmi.org/neighborhood-heroes/
Additional episodes in the project will begin by identifying an “ordinary hero” in a particular neighborhood, and then pair them with a creative team to dramatize and musicalize some aspect of their life, with the final result of a 7-12 minute musical film.
“I loved meeting and experiencing Geoff,” says bookwriter Douglas Haverty. “I am honored to help in the telling of this tale and the helping to illustrate the wonder of this man.”
“What Gets Thrown At Us” Composer James Goins says, “It has been a high privilege and an honor working on the Neighborhood Heroes Project … to create this musical work about the remarkable, touching, and true life of Mr. Geoff Davis.”
“While we may not all have personal experience, most of us know someone who has been a victim of addiction, seen a close friend or family take a very wrong turn in their lives or been in a situation where hope seemed to be a distant memory,” says director John Mitchell. “The spirit of this gentleman, the loving nature of who he becomes, is contagious and offers us hope in what has been a very bad few years for most of us. The twist ending took my breath away, and made me wonder how it will all turn out.”
“Geoff Davis’s story really resonated with me because I am drawn to the stories of redemption of everyday people,” says performer Jimmer Bolden. “He could have easily given up on himself and simply faded away, but instead he faced his fears and his past and became a marvelous example for those in despair and a great contributor to his community.”
Ironically and tragically, as this musical was being created and filmed, Geoff Davis was diagnosed with cancer, and doesn’t know how much time he has left. Davis himself, in this episode, says, “Yes, does life continue to overload me with situations to test my ability to survive and endure. Yes, daily. The good thing is I no longer run or nor I will run. I stand up every morning with a face of gratitude and a humble heart and I go and provide a service to strangers to make their life simpler and problem-free.”
About North Hollywood Northeast Neighborhood Council
The North Hollywood Northeast Neighborhood Council serves one of Los Angeles’ most diverse areas, and is committed to working with families, businesses, organizations to help build a more engaged and exciting community in The Valley.
Their NPGs, or Neighborhood Purpose Grants, are a way for neighborhood councils to partner with and support non-profit organizations and public schools on projects that provide a public benefit to the community. NPG activities build community, enhance the neighborhood, and are open, accessible, and free to the general public.
About New Musicals Inc.
New Musicals Inc. develops and produces musicals for both live and digital stage. They have a similar webseries, “So Proudly We Hailed,” which focuses on the life stories of veterans. There are currently seven episodes available for viewing, with three more to be released over the next three months, and plans for another round by the end of 2022.
“Our little musical films celebrate the life choices someone has made, for better or worse,” says NMI Artistic Director, and series dramaturge, Elise Dewsberry, “and perhaps along the way we learn from someone else’s triumphs and/or failures.”
“What Gets Thrown At Us” Team
Book by Douglas Haverty
Music and lyrics by James A. Goins
Directed by John Mitchell
Featuring Jimmer Bolden