St. Louis will soon be treated to a unique theatrical experience. From December 27-30 at the Playhouse @ Westport Plaza, Oddville: A Love Story? will tell the classic “boy meets girl, boy loses girl, then wins her back” storyline in a way you’ve never seen before. The man behind the one-man show is Dave Shirley. Shirley has been in the entertainment business for a long time but got some incredible exposure as a contestant on America’s Got Talent Season 8.
I had the pleasure of talking with Mr. Shirley to gain some insight into what this show is really all about.
Limelight Magazine: What is Oddville: A Love Story about?
Dave Shirley: It’s blue man group meets 40-year-old virgin. When you go see the show, you’ll understand. It’s a very visual show with huge LED walls that help tell the story. I don’t actually speak but I play a character called the lonely one. It’s the classic boy meets girl, loses the girl, then wins the girl back but done in a very unique and strange way that’s never been done before. The lonely guy orders happiness online but then he finds that you have to earn your happiness.
LM: How did you come up with this unique concept?
Shirley: It’s been a long winding road. It started years ago. I used to be a street performer. What happens when you perform on the street is you learn lots of useless skills that have no real use other than standing on the street. I had this concept to create a one-man variety show. I want to do something interesting and odd. I wanted to connect all these useless skills to create this amazing show. With stand-up, it’s just joke after joke, but with a play or movie, the audience is invested in the outcome. That’s what I wanted from my show. It’s odd and I decided to embrace that and create this alternate reality. In the end, it all comes together in such a touching way.
LM: You had a successful career as a teacher. What was the turning point that made you quit that to do this full time?
Shirley: I think like a lot of performers, I was doing both. Most have a day job and then they have their creative endeavors. I was doing both as well. Teaching is a good gig but the big shift came when I had to ask myself what I’m really passionate about. My dad was an electronics expert that quit because he wanted to be a carpenter. It’s kind of the same thing. I had to take the risk to do what I truly love. I wasn’t miserable as a teacher but it wasn’t what brought me complete joy. And I was lucky to have a family willing to support.
LM: You were in Season 8 of America’s Got Talent. What was that experience like for you?
Shirley: There are lots of emotions going into it. Fortunately for me, I was much more aware of what I was getting into. It’s much more of a reality show than a talent competition. Reality TV is about who’s the most popular than who’s the most talented. It’s a different kind of a whirlwind. I submitted my act online and was selected that way. A lot of the off stage video was very staged, like the clips on me waiting in line to audition. My strategy was to give them something that would truly stand out. I had been doing a show that used a video screen. I had never seen it on there so I submitted my video and was contacted four days later. They immediately invited to New York to do the show. While I was standing backstage waiting for my turn to perform, I could hear people get the X and it was so intimidating. Fortunately, it went very well and they put me through to the live Las Vegas round.
LM: While on the show, how much control did you have over your acts?
Shirley: Ultimately, it’s their show. The first act I performed, I had control over it but then it kind of spins out from there. When you’re competing against a ten-year-old girl that sings incredible and the audience loves, it’s intimidating. Of course people will love her. So I had to try to come up with something that I thought people would really embrace and remember. My next act was not going to be a video act but the producers pretty much said if I didn’t, I would be cut from the show. At least that’s how I interpreted the conversation. In the end, they completely control things. I could have called their bluff but I didn’t take that chance.
LM: During one of your performances on AGT, the judges criticized you timing with the projections and were pretty hard on you. What effect did that criticism have on the future of your act?
Shirley: None really. People have a short memory when it comes that things like that. Being on the show itself helped me. I may not have won but it definitely drove my career forward.
LM: So you’re bringing this new type of entertainment to St. Louis which is exciting. What do you hope the audience will take away from your show?
Shirley: What I will say about the show is that the audience doesn’t really know what they are getting into. It’s not Grease or any other show they would be familiar with and the description doesn’t really explain the meaning of the show. It’s one that the audience will walk away with a feeling of “Holy Crap! What did I just watch?” type reaction. It’s touching. I’ve had people tell me that they actually teared up at the end of the show because it does have a touching love story to it. I like to compare it to Cirque de Soleil in the way that it’s such a unique experience. You’re not exactly sure what you’re going to see until you see it. It’s a bit of a magic show without being a magic show if that makes any sense.
LM: How long have you been performing this show and has it changed much since it’s inception?
Shirley: It has evolved over the last seven years. A good five of those years was developing the show. I’ve workshopped it and then gone back and rewritten and reshot video. We found bits that worked and went from there.
It was a complete pleasure speaking with Mr. Shirley and I know I’m very excited to see this show. If you’re looking for something to do with friends or family over the Christmas break, get your tickets now! I have a strong feeling that this will be one of those shows you will be sorry to have missed. Click here for more info!
Also, join us on December 21st on Facebook Live as we take you backstage for a sneak peek at the magic that brings this show together and we sit down with Dave Shirley.