Barrington Stage commissioned a new musical, Presto-Change-o, about three generations of magicians. The play runs until June 11. We were fortunate enough to interview Vadim Feichtner, the musical director of the show. Magicians capture us by creating illusions. In its own way, theatre does the same. When we go to a show, we are so involved with the magic on stage, we often aren’t aware of the magic that goes on backstage to make it happen. This may be particularly true with musicals where songs carry us along with the story.
Vadim had worked on many shows at Barrington Stage, on Broadway and Off-Broadway. He is also a composer and is married to singer Leslie Kritzer, whose work we have also enjoyed at Barrington Stage.
In April, just before the school’s spring vacation, we had the pleasure of talking with Erika Floriani, Oldcastle’s Operations and Marketing Director to find out about the many elements that make a theatre company run. One of Erika’s jobs is being sure that everyone knows about all the events and productions that are happening at Oldcastle. Erika had a great deal to share including telling us about all the social media with which she deals. We have provided some links to the various locations in which you can find out what is happening in this, our own Bennington Equity theatre company.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays and is performed widely. There are many different ways of approaching the play as is true with all Shakespeare’s plays. Besides theatre productions, Midsummer has been reimagined in ballet, opera, film and television. The characters have appeared in paintings, children’s books, manga and graphic novels, as well as in literary and dramatic parodies such as Lords and Ladies and Shakespeare in Hollywood.
The Bennington College Drama Department is offering a production of Midsummer at the Lester Martin Theatre on May 6, 7, and 8 at 8 pm. Bob and I had the pleasure of interviewing the play’s director, Jean Randich, Music Director Christopher Giannitti and Technical Director Michael Rancourt. After talking with them, we are excited to see this production.
We met on the set of the play which was quite impressive. Here is a model of it.
On opening night of The Lion in Winter, we saw Alexander Sovronsky going to his seat. Knowing his work for Shakespeare and Company, we were delighted to see that he had composed the music for the play that was about to unfold. When we heard the music and the way it enhanced the production. Bob cornered Alex at intermission and asked if he would come on our program. We were pleased when he said yes.
We knew that Alex was versatile but as we read more of his background, we were truly impressed. He is a composer, musician, sound designer, actor and teacher. He is also a delightful person to interview. We plan to have him back when he can give us an entire hour. Meanwhile, listen to what he has to say about his work, and go and see The Lion in Winter to experience it directly.
Always busy, Alex has composed the music for the Richard III reading at Shakespeare and Company on October 10 with Hamish Linklater and Lily Rabe. The reason he couldn’t stay longer to talk with us was because he had a meeting for what we assumed was some other project.
When we enjoy performances on stage, we are only seeing part of what makes a play a success for the audience. There are many more people backstage than on stage. We have been fortunate to interview some of those who make theatre happen behind the scenes. The Weston Playhouse has a program of interns which employs young people who are in college theatre programs or who have just graduated to get experience working in a theatre as the first step in their future careers. These are the theatre people of tomorrow. Listening to what they have to say has been enlightening and has deepened our appreciation of the process of making theatre.
For all the wonderful things on stage to happen, there are many people working backstage. They are a part of the magic that makes theatre enthrall us. We were fortunate enough to interview Andja Budincich who works in the costume shop. Officially, she is a Stitcher, but as she points out she does everything that is necessary to get all the costumes ready.
Andja works on all of the shows. We spoke with her before Pump Boys and Dinettes opened. She was already working on mermaid costumes for Peter and theStarcatcher. When we saw the costumes in performance, we appreciated her work even more than when she told us about it. Theatre in the summer is challenging because of the rapid turnover of plays which requires work to be done quickly. After you listen to Andja, you will appreciate the costumes even more.
When Bob and I spent the afternoon at the Dorset Theatre Festival, we had the chance to interview the costume designer, Sydney Maresca and the set designer, Andrew Boyce. We found what they had to share with us enlightening. As audience, we are aware how much the set and costumes work towards creating the world we are about to enter. The magic onstage that is created by the actors is supported by the magic backstage that is created by the designers and the costume and prop people. There is so much that goes into making a production work.
We had never met these skillful and articulate designers before, but they were so open, friendly and informative that we enjoyed learning more about the process of how the designs evolve through what they shared with us.
Theatre is a collaborative effort. Those behind the scenes are important to the overall success of a production. Over our four years on Theatre Talk we have interviewed a range of people who work behind the scenes contributing to the magic of a performance. We will continue to do so. Meanwhile, I will also publish our past interviews.
Early in 2013, we interviewed Bob and Govane Lohbauer at Shakespeare and Company. Bob is an actor as well as Weapons Master. Govane is a costume designer who has enhanced many productions with her designs. Over the years we have enjoyed their work. Getting an idea of what happens behind the scenes always increases one’s appreciation of the final product.