Archive for April, 2014
From April 16 until May 23, you have the opportunity to bid on such unique items as:
A backstage visit with ALAN CUMMING and tickets to Broadway’s CABARET
A behind-the-scenes tour of THE FOOD NETWORK studios
Incredible tickets to NYC professional sporting events
Reserved seating at the quintessential NYC summer experience SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK
Special passes to DISNEY THEME PARKS
A Les Paul Special II Epiphone Guitar autographed by American Idol winner KELLY CLARKSON
Plus, luxury spa packages, NYC hotel stays, passes to major NYC cultural institutions, and a variety of backstage experiences at Broadway shows!
All proceeds of the auction go to benefit the work of Classic Stage Company, so bid early and bid often!
Click here to purchase, stop by the CSC Box Office at 136 East 13t Street, NYC, or call 212-352-3101 / 866-811-4111.
Click here for tickets and information. Photos: Richard Termine
Click here to read online. You move back and forth between musicals, contemporary plays, comedies, and classics. Do you have a preference? JR: Do I have a preference? That’s a good question. One of my great pleasures is working with David Ives. I love working with him, both in terms of his new work, and what this is. This show is a translation and adaptation of an old French comedy that I’ve been very fond of for many years. So, I don’t really have favorites. I like each project for what it is. Needless to say, though, I do like funny things, and David is a master at that, so it’s fun to collaborate with him. Can you talk about your work in comedy? It strikes us as being a particularly challenging medium to work in. Comedy for me is really a very pleasureable place to work. I used to say when I first started out as a director of comedy that I had such a good job because it required me to laugh for eight hours a day. I’m very fond of being entertained and being made to laugh, and working with comic actors is a joy. When I first started to even think about directing, I was an actor when I was very young—I was in high school and as a teenager I had a great love for comedy, and I really wanted to do that. And I emulated comics. You know, the very classic film comedies of the Marx Brothers, and then later on the Pink Panther, and the world of Woody Allen, and all that. So those influences when I was very young were very important to me. But it is a difficult job, because you really have to have help. You have to have help be funny all the time. But there’s great endorphins that come along with laughter, so it makes my day very positive (laughs) to be laughing all the time as I work. And how did you meet David Ives? David was introduced to me by an agent that we shared many years ago in the mid-90s. David was looking for a director to begin to collaborate on some new work that he was doing, including some revisions of an old play called Ancient History. And so, our first collaboration was at Primary Stages. We’ve done so many now, I’ve actually lost count. But then we turned around and did a show, a second collection of one-act plays called Mere Mortals, which was quite successful. That was following his original collection of All in the Timing. And, you know, we’ve been friends ever since. David really was one person who recommended me to City Center Encores!, to get involved with the musical comedy revivals that they were doing back in the mid-90s. And because he was often the script consultant and concert adaptor for City Center Encores!, we did many shows together over the years. What attracts you to David’s work? What attracts me most to David’s work is his playfulness with the English language. His language is kind of buoyant, alive… every word is precious to him, and has to not only make sense, and give meaning, and have character, but also has to sound a certain way, sound funny, or sound interesting. And working on THE HEIR APPARENT, which is a play that he translated into English but also in iambic pentameter and then rhyming couplets—throughout its rhyming verse, it’s rhyming poetry. It’s poetry! And I think David’s work and his poetry of the theatre are really strong, not only in the more obvious case of THE HEIR APPARENT, but in all of his other work, too. He’s also an economist with language; part of the reason why he’s so successful in the short play world is because of his economy and his ability to distill our language—to make it a very theatrical-sounding language. In addition to the language, what attracts you to THE HEIR APPARENT? Well, you know, it’s really going back to my roots. When I first really got into directing, I studied in Europe, and I studied a lot of commedia dell’arte and Italian comedies including Goldoni. And one of my very early successes off-Broadway was a play called When Ladies Battle, which was a Eugene Scribe and Ernest Legouve play that Michael Feingold had translated. And then, prior to that I did a Goldoni comedy called The Venetian Twins, and it’s actually been quite a long time since I’ve been in this world. I lived in Naples, Italy, when I was studying in grad school, and got really focused on the Italian comedy. Needless to say, we’re a long way from that in this play, but the roots of the play, the roots of the comic characters—the old man, the unruly servant who’s really good at imitating his masters, the two young lovers, both blinded by their love, and then their love for money—all of those things are very familiar to me. And I love that about the play; I love the kind of archetypal comic characters that are here. And again, it’s a very archetypal humor; the idea of a man having to make his will, and then how all the heirs will fight over it. And obviously, the play has this wonderful turn at the end, which is very remarkable and fresh. Do you go about working on a classic differently than you might a contemporary piece, or a musical? Yes, because you do have to really pay attention, especially in this particular case, to the language, and the rhythms, and the poetry, and the alliteration, and all of the poetic tools that David employs. You have to be very in-tune to that. And you have to recognize that there are comic moments that have to get extrapolated, because they’re kind of classic comic situations. And what I mean by that are events like: the servant needs to get beat up, comically, by our hero, so you have to invent comedy for that and business for that. And in a contemporary play, say like David Ives' Sure Thing from All in the Timing—which is sort of his classic play, with the bell that keeps repeating—for that you really have to first understand a very contemporary love relationship. And then there is the repetition of that, and the form of that. So there are different tools. And then obviously, with a musical there is a whole other side, which is the musical side. And this is where I think David makes a wonderful book writer for musicals. His language is full of music, and then it feels like as the language goes on it could easily move into song. That's why his work on all those shows at City Center Encores! was so marvelous, because he was able to really hone them into what they needed to be in order for the song to happen. And for me, working on a musical brings out other aspects, like obviously more choreography and musical staging and all those other elements that are fun to work on, and that sometimes are reflected in my play work, but not always. I like moving amongst the disciplines, especially in a given year, because it keeps me fresh. It's like a reed player that plays several different instruments, you know? I like that. What’s next up for you? Ah, well… I have this wonderful revival of On the Town that first started at Encores!, and then I did it at Barrington Stage Company last summer, and we’re hoping that this will arrive on Broadway next season, so there’s been a lot of preparation. So, that’s sort of the most important next show.