On June 20, the Kapow-i GoGo marathon will be back again at the Peoples Improv Theater. Tickets are on sale now for $30 and available for purchase at the door or online here. I had the chance to sit down with some of the cast and creative team to discuss this unique show and how it came together. Leading up to the marathon, I will be sharing those interviews here.
As a kid, Tara Pacheco got into dance and theater to overcome her shyness. Today, she relishes playing strong, take-charge women on stage, like her character Twig in Kapow-i GoGo. In our conversation, she talks about the challenges of creating a female action hero who isn’t hyper-sexualized and how she accidentally got hooked on Dragon Ball Z.
Tell me a little bit about yourself, how you got into acting and theater.
I’m from New York, and I think I was really shy as a kid, so my mom was like, “That’s not going to fly.” So she sent me to dance classes, and that kind of led to being interested in theater. So I went to a performing arts high school and then got sucked into the Bats and whatnot.
Yeah, it seems like most of you come out of Bats.
Yeah, because it started off as a serial. It developed with a core group of people and then got carried on into the PIT performances.
What is the first show that you remember seeing on-stage?
It’s, well, both of them are really embarrassing. Either Cats on Broadway or The Lion King on Broadway.
They’re not embarrassing!
They’re both about cats, I guess. Yeah, I think it might have been The Lion King because I wasn’t quite sure what was happening, and one of my aunts got me dressed up and I met my mom, and she was like, “We’re going to see this!” And I’m like, “What?” Yeah, it’s very theatrical and I guess a lot of puppets, so I guess that carries over.
A whole lot of puppets. Were there any actors or shows that influenced you creatively or pushed you in one direction or another?
That’s an interesting question because for a person that does a lot of theater, I know very little about what’s happening and who is doing what. I think if anything, I was very heavily influenced by TV and consumed way too much media and watched way too many age-inappropriate Julia Roberts movies as a kid. So I guess that, in a really weird way, sort of shaped my tastes, where I can be like, oh, that’s bad because it reminds me of watching Coming to America way too many times, you know?
How did you first get involved with the show? Were you with the show from the very beginning?
No. So I joined the company of actors, the Bats, in December or so the year before last for The Mysteries, which was that crazy epic big show that they did. And Kapow-i GoGo had gone up in the Serials cycle before that, so I think they had already done four or five episodes, and then when The Mysteries started, everything sort of went on hold, and we did that for about a year.
When that was over, I went and I saw the next round of Serials and was like, “Holy shit, this is amazing.” Matt’s show was hilarious, and we were in The Mysteries together, so it was like, “I’m gonna sign up for a cycle of Serials if I can be in Kapow-i GoGo,” and I guess he felt too bad saying no! So he was like, “Okay, I’ll write you in as like a random person.
For people that haven’t seen the show yet, how would you sum up Kapow-i GoGo, and how do your characters Twig and Fancy Dress Mary fit into the story?
I would say that if you haven’t seen Kapow-i GoGo, it’s just a live-action version of everything you remember from your childhood. It’s like the bad-ass new female character that you’ve always wanted to see and has only ever existed in cartoon format, somehow realized as a human being in a way that doesn’t annoy you. It’s not like hyper-sexualized and it’s not – I don’t know, there are so many bad-ass women in it, and it’s all about being fun, being strong instead of being like, “I have boobs,” like Julia Roberts or like Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft or whatever.
I would say my characters sort of split the difference because I have Twig, which is really fun because she’s definitely a part of that camp of, “I’m really bad-ass, and I have a job to do, and I’m not going to let anything stop that job.” But Fancy Dress Mary is sort of hilarious to play because the running joke is that she is always living in Tuxedo Gary’s shadow.
And then I also have Dr. Gyro for a brief sec, which is the most fun to do, and it’s hilariously fun to be the villain, which I never get to do. I never get to be the villains, and I always look on and frown from backstage when someone gets to do something really fun.
I’ve seen the show twice now, and the stamina that you guys have is really amazing. What was your rehearsal process like leading up to the first marathon, and what is the most challenging part for you?
Leading up to the marathons was interesting because we had sort of broken it down and done it in chunks before that, and that was weird because, I mean, typical of like Serials and that style, there were a lot of rewrites and a lot of things changed. So it would be like, well, we have rehearsal all of next week because we’re putting up a performance on Saturday, but I don’t have the latest script and I don’t know my lines, so it’ll be interesting on Monday and Tuesday. And then the marathons, as crazy as they are, just felt a little bit more grounded because we had cuts and stuff that we needed to do, but we all knew the rough shape.
I think when we opened for Part 1, very few people knew how Part 3 ends, and that was like really weird to try and live with and rehearse with, and so being able to just be like, okay, we know the rough arc. Our lines are going to change, but we know what we have to do, it was a lot easier.
How much of the characterizations of Twig and Fancy Dress Mary came from the original script and how much came from the rehearsal process? It sounds like you guys were rewriting so much stuff as you were going along.
Yeah, well, I think Matt’s really good at that because he’ll hear you improv something or hear you totally goof something up and go, “Yup, keeping it!” I think Twig, I mean, her scenes developed a lot more over the course of the rehearsal period, and she ended up coming back at the end of Part 3 and coming back for episode 9.
I think that the original bit, like the way that she talks and sort of moves is sort of me trying not to be Maddy. I think it’s goofy when you have like, Maddy’s an established character playing Kapow-i. You don’t want to be, oh, I’m just copying her and doing the same thing, so a lot of that I think tried to come out of contrast and using the language and the fact that she’s a forest elf to make something that felt like from a different world.
The start of Kapow-i GoGo is very sweet and very nostalgic, and it’s very straight-forward as far as good guys and bad guys. But by the end, it’s much darker and everything’s kind of gone to shit! Do you find that audiences are surprised by this change in tone?
I think it feels right, like in the course of the evening, especially when it is in marathon format and you’ve been there for so long. It kind of glides with your mood, but I think the first time Tuxedo Gary gets shot in the leg, it’s like one of those moments of, oh god! Okay, something different is happening, and I remember one of my roommates came and saw it and a moment, I think it’s at the top of Part 2 or something where Maddy comes out and she’s got the wig from the future on for just a moment. She does a little monologue and leaves, and then everything is back to being normal.
I think it is a really satisfying thing to see because it gives you an understanding of, hey, we’re joking around, we’re being kids, but something really cool is coming in the future. So having that taste sort of preps and excites you for it.
Out of the three parts, which is your favorite?
That’s hard! Part 1, when I think of Kapow-i, I think of Part 1, but I definitely feel like Part 3 is much more fun to do because it’s sort of fresher for us and it’s newer for us. Especially for people that have been doing it for so long, it’s like the most drastically different thing to be able to play with and explore.
If you could swap parts with any of the other cast members for one performance, who would it be and why?
I would probably want to do…ugh, this is hard because I was going to say Andy, but I think I want to steal Colin’s arc. He has a really fun series of villains I guess is my thing, but also his Grand Snar-Snar, King of the Snar People is one of my favorite phrases that’s ever been uttered on a stage. So I think I would take that one.
Obviously, the show is based on anime, video games, and Saturday morning cartoons. Did you have any favorite video games or TV shows growing up, and did you have the Saturday morning routine?
Yeah, I did! For me, I think – video games are weird for me. My mom’s like really straight out of Eastern Europe, and I think she was very like, “You’re not going to waste your time playing video games.” So very limited access to video games, but I did the whole Saturday morning cartoon thing, and for me, most of the Toonami stuff was after school, so I’d rush home after school and watch.
I ended up accidentally getting involved in Dragon Ball Z because it would be on right before Sailor Moon, and I was like, “Well, I guess I gotta watch this,” and then you know you’re stuck when it’s like a day and you’re like, “Oh god, I’m going to tune in earlier because I really want to know.” And it’s still something that I very much do with my roommates, and I’m really into watching Korra. It’s like a bug. Once you catch it, there’s nothing that really satisfies the same craving as that type of anime cartoon.
Tell me why people should come see the Kapow-i GoGo marathon at the Peoples Improv Theater on June 20.
First off, you should see it as a marathon because nothing makes the jokes funnier than hearing them in a clear way for the first time. People that have seen it in parts and then seen the marathon are like, “Oh my god, things are built and things are like” – you understand the arc of what’s happening a lot clearer as a marathon.
I think you should see Kapow-i because there is no other show like it. You will never see – it’s not like another performance of Macbeth. It’s not like another Tennessee Williams play. It’s something completely original and completely unlike anything else you’ve ever seen.
Where can people find out more about you and your upcoming projects?
You’re fighting in the World’s Greatest Fighter tournament, and it’s a tag-team round! Who do you want as your partner, Tuxedo Gary or Whiskers the Fighting Cat?
Whiskers the Fighting Cat
Gummy bears or sour gummy worms?
Sour gummy worms
Lucky Charms or Captain Crunch?
Which would you rather have for a pet, Whiskers the Fighting Cat or a small flock of Moo-bats?
“F—, Marry, Kill”: Treeleaf, Hicc-up GoGo, and Mr. Smiles
Oh man, okay. Marry Hicc-up, sorry Treeleaf, and then f— Mr. Smiles. He’s got some crazy in him. I don’t know what that means, but I think it will be interesting.