That was then, this is now….

We’re still over a month away from the public sing-through of "The Mikado." But the vision for next spring’s production is starting to come together.

I should probably start by saying a bit about my last go-round with "The Mikado." It was a decidedly non-traditional take on the piece. Of course the libretto and the score remained unchanged, but I took extreme liberties with the staging and the visual aspects of the show; and introduced a "back story" within which the operetta occurred with seeming spontaneity. It was sassy, sexy, ridiculous, and modern. Of course there was some degree of dissent from some of the purists, but it was both critically and popularly acclaimed. And I was extremely happy with that production.

That was then.

Now, some seven years later, I certainly don’t want to re-hash that previous directorial view. However, I will continue to look for ways to make each of our productions fresh and contemporary. Again, not by changing the libretto, but by constantly reassessing our approach to it.

After meeting with our set designer, Chris Bernier, I feel I can give you a bit of an idea of where we’re heading this time around. I should reiterate that we don’t have a final design in place; but we’re looking at a series of inter-related platforms and steps for our main set structure. Modern, stylized, abstract, elegant. To this will be added various scenic elements and lighting effects to create different looks. As usual we hope to use the cyclorama quite a bit for heightened visual interest.

In contrast, I imagine costumes will pull largely from traditional Japanese dress. But I will be looking for a twenty-first century slant. It should be not so much a faithful reproduction, but an inspired re-imagining. I haven’t met with our costumers yet, so I really don’t feel comfortable being any more specific on that topic.

As for staging and characterization: I will be looking for simplicity and ingenuity…. and the element of surprise. Comedy is so much more delightful — Tragedy so much more heartrending — when you don’t see it coming. I hope to explore movement and gesture to create a basic lexicon which our cast can inhabit completely. In this vein, I’ll be looking for a tight ensemble with an equal aptitude for stillness and for unified physical expression. I think it is important that an audience not only find the story fascinating, but that they also find the storytellers fascinating. Of course, the cast won’t be in place until January, so the why and wherefore of that fascination remains to be seen.

So that’s where we are right now. It’s a bit jumbled and a lot abstract; and it may change completely. But that’s how it begins.

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