Paramount’s Hairspray is rockin’ the house across the street (it closes a week from this Sunday, Feb. 21st, so if you haven’t yet, go get your tickets!), while here at the office we are gearing up for West Side Story rehearsals which begin on Monday. We have generously been afforded a choreography workshop for this production, and what you will see are new dances by William Carlos Angulo, as you did in Oklahoma! by Katie Spelman (her breath-taking, unforgettable Dream Ballet), and in A Christmas Story by Rhett Guter (his dancing Leg Lamps), and in Hairspray by Amber Mak (her entire company of dancers and singers bop-shoo-bopping in perpetual motion)! As your artistic director and a former dancer myself, I’ve taken on encouraging the highest level of choreography attainable for our theatre. Note last season, with Harrison McEldowney’s Cats, Rachel Rockwell’s Mary Poppins and Brock Clawson’s Jeff nominated choreography in The Who’s Tommy.
In last week’s blog, the cast for West Side Story was announced, but what you don’t know is that it took nine months to cast our production. And this is not unusual. The process can be difficult, even excruciating. The great shows of Broadway are, for the most part, built on the Olympian performance of specific physical types, with unyielding and demanding skill sets as technical singers and dancers with formidable dramatic and musical comedy acting chops. Triple threats, at least! The rules of type casting are brutal, set in stone. But I’ve found it can cause you to miss the opportunity to cast a fantastic actor who has been right in front of you, right under your nose, the whole time. It requires opening your eyes and considers breaking the mold. I know I have been blinded by typecasting. But there is the benefit of rethinking a part, to be truly creative, inspired by the actor, and let a role breathe in a new way. Back in the day, I’ve been rejected as an actor for not looking right although I could sing and dance rings around the others (kind of like my own version of “Dance Ten, Looks Three”). Funny how time works. I’m learning that more often than not, it’s about taking risks. Intuition and seeing a connection to an actor’s talent, drawing out of them something they’ve never done before, something they never knew they had, is the way to go. The actor works harder. I work harder. And we get better doing something together we’ve never done before. It’s scary as hell. But it’s the most rewarding kind of work there is. Rewarding simply in the doing of it.
Love & thanks,
Tickets still available to HAIRSPRAY