Arts & Culture
3:42 pm
Thu September 5, 2013

Former BoDean Scores Playwright's Life Story

When playwright Doug Vincent needed music for his new one-man show, he turned to what he loved: the music of former BoDean Sam Llanas.

Vincent's autobiographical spoken word performance "A Day for Grace" examines the heartaches and troubles he has dealt with in life. When the Virginia native brought the show to New York, he wanted a song to close it.

Being a big fan of the Milwaukee band the BoDeans, he chose one of theirs, but was concerned about whether he'd be allowed to use it in his show.

Undeterred, Vincent contacted Llanas’s producer, Gary Tanin, and explained the premise of the show. Tanin says everybody wants to be famous, but Vincent’s story was fascinating.

So Tanin sent Vincent's email to Llanas, co-founder and former member of the BoDeans. They flew to meet Vincent and four hours after reading the script, they agreed to collaborate.

Musician Sam Llanas (left) and performer Doug Vincent
Musician Sam Llanas (left) and performer Doug Vincent
Credit Doug Vincent

But why was Llanas so moved to work with Vincent? Because their life stories were eerily similar.

Vincent’s performance begins with a bully he dealt with growing up. Llanas had a bully as well, and when comparing bullies, their descriptions were nearly identical. It’s like the bullies “came together like in a story,” Llanas says.

Vincent’s father committed suicide right before Vincent’s daughter, Grace, was born. Llanas’ brother committed suicide nearly twenty years ago. Vincent says he didn't need to stretch the truth of the real-life details while writing the show.

The men involved all agree that this project is “serendipitously remarkable” in how these two men from three different locations came together to tell nearly the same story.

"A Day for Grace" has its Milwaukee premiere Thursday September 5th through Sunday September 8th  at Next Act Theatre.  It’s written by Doug Vincent.  The music is by Milwaukee’s Sam Llanas, and it’s directed by Gary Tanin.