Video: Alyse Alan Louis and Jason Gotay Sing 'Modest Is Hottest' From the New Horror Musical Teeth | Playbill

Spring Preview 2024 Video: Alyse Alan Louis and Jason Gotay Sing 'Modest Is Hottest' From the New Horror Musical Teeth

Michael R. Jackson and Anna K. Jacobs' latest production might heal your religious trauma.

Everyone has experienced an awkward moment or two as a teenager with a changing body, but Dawn O’Keefe’s story may take the cake…or bite. Get a first look at the new musical Teeth, with an exclusive performance of a song from the show: "Modest Is Hottest," performed by Alyse Alan Louis and Jason Gotay. This video is part of Playbill's Spring Preview series (sponsored by Princess Cruises).

Teeth, a new musical by Michael R. Jackson and Anna K. Jacobs, is based on the 2007 comedy horror film of the same name. The story follows Dawn O’Keefe, played by Louis, as she battles new feelings of sexual desire and immense shame while trying to uphold her image of purity amongst her evangelical Christian community. As Dawn’s desires are challenged by various men in her life, she discovers that her body is able to bite back in an unusual, and deadly, manner. Unleashing unbridled feminine rage while taking ownership of her body, Dawn discovers that this curse may be a blessing.

Jacobs, who wrote the book and the music, admits that the research for the show involved spending a lot of time on “Christian TikTok,” to figure out a “contemporary lens” on the story. “Our treatment of the movie was deeply informed by the fact that we were creating a stage musical, which is a vastly different medium,” Jacobs says. “The music of the show definitely amplifies the superheroine journey of our protagonist, Dawn, from evangelical Christian teen to mythical goddess.”

Both coming from backgrounds in which the pressures of fitting societal molds and foregoing individuality were prevalent, the creators valued the importance of comedy when telling a story like Teeth. For instance, in the song “Modest Is Hottest,” Dawn and her boyfriend Tobey (played by Gotay) burn with desire, while passionately admiring each other’s godliness and propriety—keeping their distance so as not to act on their lustful feelings. Though it's easy to find humor in the awkwardness of their restrained expression of love, these experiences are a reality for many surrounded by purity culture.

Michael R. Jackson and Anna K. Jacobs

Jackson, who wrote the book and the lyrics, explains how his own upbringing within the church informed much of the writing for the show (a topic he previously explored in his Tony Award-winning musical A Strange Loop).

“I grew up gay in the church with all the confusion and shame that attends such an upbringing. I went from deeply absorbing the religious ideology I was raised with to deeply questioning it,” Jackson says. “That’s where I found most of the comedic style of the show. These characters believe in the cause of sexual purity until they don’t. And whenever they even think about sex, they punish themselves. And each other. That was my modus operandi as a younger person—but as Samuel Beckett once said, ‘There is nothing funnier than unhappiness.’ So, it is in Teeth.”

Teeth hasn’t even opened yet at Off-Broadway’s Playwrights Horizons and it’s already been extended until April 14, which gives audiences plenty of time to face the gruesome truth about their own sexuality.

“I hope audiences are unsettled by Dawn’s journey and transformation and think about the forces that drive her to where she lands in the end,” says Jackson. “It’s so very en vogue to be anti-patriarchy (and anti-everything more broadly) in our culture right now. But it is my observation that when you identify as ‘anti’ anything, the thing you oppose usually becomes the center of your life—like a religion…. For those struggling with spirituality and sexuality, I quote the one and only Tori Amos who famously sang, ‘When they say take of his body, I think I’ll take from mine instead.’”

Adds Jacobs: “I hope it inspires our audiences to consider what self-expression and autonomy looks like and means to them. And if something is getting in the way of that, what is it? What’s enabling it? I also hope our audiences leave humming some catchy tunes that may or may not feature a few naughty words.”

See photos from the show below, which also features direction from Sarah Benson and choreography from Raja Feather Kelly.

Talk about exciting and new! Princess Cruises® celebrates new entertainment coming to Broadway and invites you to experience the best seats in the house at sea. Let’s take this waaay off-Broadway—and out to sea for live shows you’ll love. From original showstoppers (created by Broadway icons like Stephen Schwartz) to innovative theaters delivering immersive experiences, cruise entertainment with Princess is the Great White Way meets the ocean blue. All the world’s their stage, taking you to the most amazing destinations. So exit stage left—and embark from ports in New York, Boston, Florida, Los Angeles and more. Princess has the ultimate in cruising convenience. Bravo!

Photos: Michael R. Jackson's Teeth Off-Broadway

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