I woke up singing “OOOOOHHHHKLAHOMA!” after yesterday’s meeting with Katie Spelman and in anticipation of my first ever meeting this morning with Scott Davis. Ms. Spelman is Choreographer for next season’s opener, and Mr. Davis is making his Paramount Theatre debut as Set Designer. Seen here in HAIR, A CHORUS LINE and GREASE, Katie is a formidable actress, singer, dancer in her own right and choreographed Paramount’s IN THE HEIGHTS and RENT to stunning effect. I see in her a smart, beautiful young woman of her own mind who brings a very theatrical, creative and original point of view to the table. With Assistant Director Trent Stork with us, we had a lively exchange about the OKLAHOMA! we will be doing together. Composer Richard Rodgers, librettist Oscar Hammerstein and choreographer Agnes de Mille, the creators of OKLAHOMA! back in 1943 were there in spirit with us, and the conference room lit up with our excitement and appreciation for the work ahead!
And I expect no less from meeting Scott Davis in person this morning. Scott is a very busy man having designed sets for productions from Northlight Theatre to Court Theatre, from Chicago Shakespeare to Drury Lane, from Florida’s Osolo Rep. to Milwaukee Rep. and back! Paramount Theatre’s audiences will remember his gorgeous illustrations projected on the scenic backdrops of our recent MARY POPPINS. A fine artist himself, I’m enjoying referencing with Scott the great American painters of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, the masters of Regionalism:Thomas Hart Benton, John Steuart Curry and Grant Wood. Scott has sent me some photos as well of the plains of Oklahoma; all sky, at dawn and dusk, the verdant farms and sun-drenched cattle prairies on the endless horizon. I’m off to meet him now as we will be joined by phone, conferencing with all the designers of OKLAHOMA! this morning: Greg Hofmann lights, Theresa Ham costumes, Adam Rosenthal sound, Mike Stanfill projections, Sarah Ross props, Katie Cordts wigs and maestro Tom Vendafreddo music director & conductor!
I also had a terrific meeting with the Choreographer for Paramount’s WEST SIDE STORY, William Carlos Angulo, over dinner Friday night. Something very special is in the works here as well, dear reader! Mr. Angulo has appeared in several Paramount productions (42ND STREET, IN THE HEIGHTS, MARY POPPINS, TOMMY) and makes his debut as Choreographer here. We are at just the beginning of tackling this magnificent work of composer Leonard Bernstein and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, and I am anticipating powerful, passionate work from this superbly gifted young man.
Before I go, I have to say LES MISERABLES is richer and more profound than I ever could expect, ladies and gentlemen. I caught the final show of the second week Sunday evening, and this cast and crew have synchronized into a compelling theatrical experience of which I could not be more proud. The praise from the audience members who spoke with me, humble me, and I’ll tell you why. The ownership this incomparable company has taken over this production is soul stirring. They deserve every bit of praise and every accolade their work is garnering eight shows a week. I realize more and more how much they give at every performance. They are at once stronger and more fierce as they are nuanced and committed to the heart of this poignant story.
God bless them, but I’m late!
My love and thanks,