Sean Patrick Monahan is going back to school, in hell.
Teaming up with “Godspell” director Daniel Goldstein, “Hamilton” choreographer Jennifer Jancuska and musical theatre composer Alexander Sage Oyen, the 2010 Oceanside High School graduate and Thespian Troupe 132 veteran is starring in a one-man Off Broadway musical, “DIVA: Live From Hell.” The play runs until April 9 at the Theater for the New City in Manhattan.
Based off Monahan’s own experience as club secretary of Oceanside’s thespian troupe, his show, which premiered on March 23, tells the tale of a former high school drama club president who is living in hell after murdering the hotshot newcomer who unseated him. Now, he must relive his fall from the top and his crime of passion over and over for all eternity.
“The show is completely making fun of myself at that phase,” Monahan said while recounting his experience as a power hungry high school drama club student. “I made it my mission to write a club constitution. I did this to amass as much power to myself as possible.”
Delegating smaller tasks to other members, he dedicated an entire page of the document to things he was responsible for. “In a drama environment, if you’re not in a show you create your own drama, and me and my friends definitely did that,” he said.
“Poor, poor Mr. Bider,” he added, referring to OHS’s music director.
Originally, “DIVA” started out in a different format. Oyen approached Monahan after watching an early performance of it at a theater festival, and suggested turning it into a musical.
“In my heart of hearts I actually wanted it to be a musical,” Monahan said. “I had in my head a dark parody version of Glee … but I don’t write music.” Oyen brought on Goldstein and Jancuska to turn it into a full-fledged one-man musical at the Theater for the New City, where Monahan has performed before.
Monahan, 24, got his acting start in earnest at a theatre production in Oakdale when he was 10. After a few performances, a director suggested that his parents introduce him to an agent. “They brought me to a seminar and a child talent manager,” he said. “They thought it would scare me off due to the workload, but it totally backfired.”
Instead, he dove headfirst into child acting. “It was a unique and hectic childhood,” Monahan recounted. “But my parents were determined to let me maintain a normal, stable life.
“Still,” he continued. “It was kind of weird to miss my sixth-grade graduation because I was doing a national commercial.”
Although he currently lives in Brooklyn, Monahan recently reconnected with some of his Oceanside drama club friends after the death of a former colleague, calling the rekindling “the trippiest.”
Monahan said he worries that “DIVA” will be the last time he can play a high-school-aged character, but realized the irony in feeling that way. He remarked: “It’s a time in people’s lives most would rather forget.”