‘Dis-topia’ showcases the beauty in friendship 

Matthew Deegan, left, and Robby Good, right, prepare for their musical 'Dis-Topia,' which will take place on Feb. 17 and 18 at Hart High Schol Auditorium. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal
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Robby Good and Matthew Deegan knew two things when they met at Placerita Junior High School in Good’s seventh and Deegan’s eighth grade year: They would continue to be friends as they got older, as well as continuing to fulfill their love for the arts.  

Fast-forward to over a decade later, Good and Deegan, as well as musician Abigail Torrence, are showcasing their two-hour musical “Dis-topia” at the Hart High School Auditorium on Feb. 17 and 18, which will entail a live 26-piece orchestra and 14 actors and singers from throughout Southern California who auditioned for the roles. 

Deegan, who grew up pursuing theater, show choir and even improv at Hart High School and graduated from Chapman University with a degree in screenwriting, discussed how the collaborative project with Good came about.  

“Chapman University had this great micro-theater program. There were multiple theater clubs on campus, but there was one that I was in called The Players’ Society, and it was this kind of ragtag, amateur theater group that specialized in producing original works and sometimes unauthorized adaptations that were under parody,” Deegan said. “It was through that group that we first decided to make a musical — that musical is ‘Dis-topia.’” 

Matthew Deegan’s script that has been edited and reshaped throughout the process of creating the musical. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal

Good utilized his expertise in music, drawing on his background in  

Hart Regiment and composing for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, as well as attending UCLA for his bachelor’s degree in composition and percussion performance.  

“I continued on at UCLA for two more years, and while I was there, I kind of made it my mission to make the show my master’s thesis because I had been working on the show with Matthew for about two years at this point,” Good said. “The middle portion of high school, we realized that we really enjoyed similar types of music and we had a creative chemistry.” 

Writing a song for the first time in 2015, their background prompted Good to collaborate musically and contribute to Deegan’s script in the beginning of 2020. Together, they edited and added to the project that was originally conceived in 2019 to make it what it is now. 

“This show started when I was diving through Wikipedia, looking for topics. I spend a lot of my time just going through, clicking on random length in Wikipedia until I get to something interesting because there’s always chains you can find that’ll lead to something interesting,” Deegan said. “I stumbled upon this concept of Walt Disney’s unbuilt experimental prototype community of Tomorrow that he wanted to build in Florida — Epcot.” 

The implicitly dystopian script, which took Deegan roughly one month to write initially and counters Disney’s utopian vision, provided the recipe for the musical’s first showcase in Santa Clarita. 

With the help of Torrence, Deegan and Good collectively worked on the script and music, filling in the gaps in each respective field. 

Matthew Deegan, left, and Robby Good, right, prepare for their musical 'Dis-Topia,' which will take place on Feb. 17 and 18 at Hart High Schol Auditorium. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal
Matthew Deegan, left, and Robby Good, right, prepare for their musical ‘Dis-Topia,’ which will take place on Feb. 17 and 18 at Hart High Schol Auditorium. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal

“For a lot of songs that I didn’t have time to write, Abby and Matthew would provide the blueprints for the song, I would decipher and translate them and then orchestrate them right,” Good said.  

“She’s actually acting in this performance— she’s very talented. While we’re producing it, she’s acting,” Deegan said. 

While Deegan roughly performed the concept during his time at Chapman, and Good gave a UCLA theater class the script to embody for the summer, the duo are producing their dystopian masterpiece at the heart of their friendship. 

“There is a lot of DNA of this friendship in here and it makes it all the better that we’re using the Hart Auditorium because we went through high school together. I don’t know if we ever actually performed there together, but we both performed in that space and watched each other,” Deegan said. 

While a project, such as a full-fledged musical, can have bumps and creative differences, Good and Deegan proved that their friendship and love for the craft is much stronger.  

“It’s a very special kind of feeling to know that everybody’s coming together to make, not our dream happen, but a dream that we get to share with everybody,” Good said. “It’s not something that I think we’re ever going to be able to do the same way ever again, but at the same time, I’m also really looking forward to whatever future projects come about that let us do something even more different and maybe even better. Who knows.” 

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