Bringing ‘Roadkill’ to life
Local writers launch fundraising campaign to stage original musical
by E. Assata Wright
Reporter staff writer
Mar 17, 2013 | 3818 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Actor Bryan Johnson performs “I Shake Me Green Shillelagh,” a fictitious song from “Finian’s Rainbow” at New York City’s Kirk Theatre. The song is not part of “Finian’s Rainbow,” but it is included in “Broadway Roadkill” by Hudson County writers Larry Bortniker and Sally Deering.
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In the classic musical “Finian’s Rainbow” there is no show-stopping tune titled “I Shake Me Green Shillelagh.” But it’s not hard to imagine such a song being written – then quickly abandoned – by E.Y. Harburg and Burton Lane, the duo who wrote the songs for the show.

It’s similarly possible that “Rent,” “West Side Story,” “Les Misérables,” and any number of great musicals originally contained dreadful clunkers that would have had audiences leaving theaters in droves, but didn’t, because some writer, director, producer, or starlet said, “Cut this crap out!”

While most musical lovers and theater pros prefer to dwell on the masterpieces that were kept in these great shows, Hudson County writers Larry Bortniker and Sally Deering have decided to ponder what might have been.

The pair have written their own musical, the aptly titled “Broadway Roadkill,” about imagined songs and scenes that one could possibly see being included in well-known Broadway hits until they were cut with an editor’s pen.

“Now, let me be clear, all of these songs and scenes are completely bogus,” said Bortniker. “Our purpose in writing it was to parody and have some fun with these old chestnuts.”

Among the shows Bortniker and Deering poke fun at are “Hair,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “West Side Story,” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” The oldest musical Bortniker and Deering parody is “Finian’s Rainbow.” The most recent is “Phantom of the Opera.”
Among the shows Bortniker and Deering poke fun at are “Hair,” “Phantom of the Opera,” and “West Side Story.”
The two – who have worked in theater for years, both independently and collaboratively – are now trying to bring their “Roadkill” to life onstage and have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to showcase their musical in New York City. Through the Kickstarter website, Bortniker and Deering are trying to raise a total of $27,500 by Wed., March 27. The campaign ends at 9:04 a.m.

“We’re trying to raise enough money to do a showcase production of the piece in New York. And what that basically means is we would do between 10 and 16 performances, with the hope of getting a producer interested in taking it to the next level, either an ongoing run at one of New York’s cabaret spaces or maybe a run Off-Off Broadway or Off Broadway,” Bortniker explained.

Donors can give as little as $1 or as much as they like.

There are CDs, tickets, and other treats for donors, depending on how much one donates. Supporters who give $25 or more receive a CD of the musical. People who give $50 or more receive one ticket to the musical if the two reach their dollar goal and are successful in their effort to bring “Broadway Roadkill” to the stage. Those who give $100 through Kickstarter receive a CD and two tickets, while people who donate at higher giving levels receive additional tickets and CDs.

As with any Kickstarter campaign, donors pledge a specific amount to the project. If Deering and Bortniker reach their $27,500 goal, supporters are expected to follow through on their pledge. If they don’t reach their dollar goal by March 27, donors are not required to support the project.

The fundraising model has been successfully used by independent movie directors, authors, and musical bands to generate quick cash for film projects, self-published books, and other creative initiatives.

As of March 8, the “Broadway Roadkill” campaign had thus far raised $2,160 from 15 supporters.

“I actually wasn’t familiar with Kickstarter. Sally is actually the one who told me about it. It seemed like a good fundraising mechanism. So, I thought it would be a good idea to try,” said Bortniker.

To learn more about the “Broadway Roadkill” Kickstarter campaign, visit

E-mail E. Assata Wright at

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