nytheatre.com q&a preview by Donald Brenner
October 12, 2012
What is your job on this show?
Where were you born? Where were you raised? Where did you go to school?
I’m from Pittsburgh. I graduated from West Virginia University --- where I was a journalism major. That was probably the beginning of where I learned about structure in terms of storytelling. I lived in Washington DC for several years where I worked as an actor. Then moved to New York in the early 80s and started directing --which seemed to bring together all the experience I had into one job.
What are some of your previous theater credits? (Be specific! Name shows, etc.)
I’ve directed over 85 productions around the country --- both original and established works --- at places like the Berkshire Theater Festival, NJ Rep, the Pioneer Theatre Company and the Harvard Hasty Pudding Theatrical. I’ve worked with a lot of companies here in New York: New York Musical Theatre Festival, The Lark Theatre, the Abingdon Theatre, The York Theatre, Lincoln Center Institute, and Urban Stages. I directed a piece at Lincoln Center for the Lincoln Center Institute based on “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” --- it was an original piece using middle eastern musicians, Egyptian dance, story theater techniques and was based on a tale of the Arabian Nights. Currently, I’m developing “Merton of the Movies” - a new musical with Composer-Lyricist Doug Katsaros for which I’m writing the book.
In your own words, what do you think this show is about? What will audiences take away with them after seeing it?
“March Madness” is an important new comedy because of what it says about the desperate state of the middle class economically. And in this election year, what could be a more hot button topic than the middle class and economics. There are also a number of underlying themes in this play, including Self Respect, Justice and the risks one is willing to take to live one’s dream. The characters in “March Madness” are all motivated by a need to get their fair share of the pie, to get what they believe they have coming to them. In a word, for validation.
Groucho, Chico, Harpo, or Zeppo?
What a wonderful question! A few years ago, I directed a new Marx Brothers musical, “The Most Ridiculous Thing You Ever Hoid” for NYMF. I must say that “March Madness” embodies the sensibilities of all FOUR Marx Brothers: the wit and irreverence of Groucho, the physical comedy of Harpo, the sweet pathos of Zeppo and the vaudevillian humor of Chico.
Theater is a necessary ingredient in democratic societies. Do you agree or disagree, and why?
Absolutely. Theatre at its best should make us think, react, weep, laugh. argue and cheer. And again, “March Madness” is such a play --- reminding us that in spite of everything going on in the country today, the American Dream is alive and well.