Interview with Director James-Michael Roddy

My name is James-Michael Roddy.  I am the Manager: Show Concepts and Scripts for Universal Studios Escape.  I am also the Writer/Director of Bill & Ted's Shagadelic Halloween Adventure.  The show runs the month of October as part of Universal Studios Florida's Halloween Horror Nights!

Q: How many times has the park put on a Bill & Ted Halloween Show?

A: This was our eighth year.

Q: What was different about this year's show compared to earlier ones?

A: This was my first year completely alone in the creation.  I had co-directed in years past.  This year we strived to redefine the show - it was becoming formulaic.  We created a new "twist" in the setting and added the element of musical numbers throughout.

Q: Were there auditions for the show?  How many people tried out?

A: There were auditions and some characters were added to the show based on their talent, at that audition.  A prime example was the American Pie characters.  I had toyed with the idea but couldn't figure how to include them.  Two of the performers auditioning - June Lindle and Dave Tomasi came in and I knew I had a Jim and Michelle that would start the pre-show and be a thread throughout.  Another example was Meghan Maroney as Heather Donahue from the Blair Witch Project.

Q: What did you enjoy (or NOT enjoy ) about your work on this show?

A: It was one of the most incredible times of my career.  I am honored to have worked with this cast.  They were the best I could have ever dreamed of.

Q: Had you seen either (or both) of the B&T movies before writing the shows?  What did you think of them if you did?

A: I studied the first film extensively.  I also relied a great deal on Doug McDonald and Kevin Vincent who respectively played William & Theodore.  They really brought a lot of truth and integrity to the roles.  I relied on them to keep the integrity of the characters.

Q: How did you prepare for your role of writing and directing the shows?

A: I must admit - this being the first one that I was solely responsible for - there was a lot of pressure.  I prayed.  It's that simple.  I left it in God's hands.  I wanted the show to be a fun experience and a great memory.  It was!

Q: What is your personal favorite "bit" in the show?  Least favorite?

A: Favorites - the Jerry Springer moments - the opening number (Wild Wild West).  Doctor Evil's entrance.  The Mystery Men.  The accidental death of William & Theodore and their return as Jedi.

Least Favorite - Marilyn Manson.  A good idea but never fully realized - thankless.

Q: Any funny "outtakes" . . . that you'd care to talk about that is?

A: We had so many funny moments that occurred on a nightly basis.  One favorite was the inclusion of the infamous "Blink-blink".  There was some song that had this refrain.  It made us all laugh and slowly crept into the show and got a huge response from the audience.

Q: How was the audience turn-out and reception for the shows?

A: The show was rated the highest ever at Universal for any entertainment offering.  That was quite an accomplishment.  Again - I thank my cast and crew.  They were the reason.

Q: Did anyone complain that the B&T movies were too "old", or did the younger audience members seem to enjoy them?

A: This is always a concern, but to me personally I think the characters are timeless.

Q: Would you like to work on the show again, given the opportunity?

A: I start to work on the new Bill and Ted in a matter of weeks.  If anyone has any ideas . . .

Q: Has getting into the "minds" of B&T effected or changed you or your outlook in any way?

A: They are part of a wonderful memory, and like good friends I am anxious to visit them again.

Q: Tell us what other projects you have worked on in the past and are working on right now!

A: I am working on a project based on the Upcoming Jim Carrey Grinch film as well as projects for The Flinstones - Viva Rock Vegas.  I am gearing up to start Halloween Concepts (including William & Theodore).  I am also writing a new screenplay as well as starting to produce an independent film.

We have learned that James-Michael Roddy left Universal Studios some time after this interview.  If you would like to read another online interview with him, click here!

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