Backstage Blog

Teching History Boys

I am full of anticipation today. We begin tech tonight for our upcoming production of The History Boys. It’s one of my favorite times in rehearsal: when the show that is being put together in a rehearsal room begins to actually look like a play! This is where the production begins to develop it’s “look” in the lighting and sound designs. I always love working with Eric Lotze and can’t wait to see what we come up with.

Matt Lescault-Wood is designing the sound for the show. Full of atmospheric environments that will help create the school grounds of these boys. Shirley Pierson, one of our SDSU Lipinkski Fellowship Designers, is creating the 1980′s school wear. Bonnie Durben our props. And Andy Hull, also a SDSU Lipinski Fellowship Designer, has created a sort of deconstructed school, not really literal, but definitely evokes that environment. With Stanley Cohen as my stage manager, rather the captain of the show, I am so happy to be working with all of them.

Oh, and those boys…there’s a lot of talent up there and a lot of energy. Go get ‘em guys.

Bon Voyage, History Boys!

An update:

We’ve finished teching the show and had the great luxury of doing a run thru on Sunday. I couldn’t be happier or more proud of the work that the boys and their faculty are doing. It’s just such a treat to get to work with them. They are dedicated, fun, energetic (o God, are they energetic!) and thoroughly talented.

The black and white world of Bed and Sofa

Primary ink sketch for the Bed and Sofa set.

Primary ink sketch for the Bed and Sofa set.

I am really excited about beginning work on our upcoming musical, Bed and Sofa, by Polly Pen and Laurence Klavan. We did this show as part of our very first season, before many people had even heard about our work. It turned out to be a wonderful success and helped introduce our theatre to a new range of people. I’ve wanted to work on it again because it was one of the most unique experiences I’ve ever had in the theatre.

It’s based on the 1926 Russian silent-film by Abram Room. The movie, which is available on Amazon in beautiful restoration DVD, was a breakthrough film that is startlingly contemporary in it’s acting style and cinematic directing.

As we begin work bringing this musical-adapted-from-a-silent-film-for-the-stage we’re trying to capture the essence of a silent movie. As in our first production, we are creating a world onstage that is completely engulfed in glorious black and white! Every detail of the set from the bedding to the fried egg is presented in shades of grey. Even the actors are in grey scale creating the total illusion of the silver tones of the silent era. Andy Hull, our SDSU Fellowship Designer who designed The History Boys, is working with me on the set design. We are having a great time taking the cramped apartment set from the film and adapting it for the stage. The set from our original production in 2004 is being re-imagined in a slightly bigger version for the Old Town Theatre.

What’s exciting for us is that the new production isn’t a remount at all. It will feature a entirely new cast, as our original Kolya, Eric Anderson is currently on Broadway in the revival of South Pacific, and Julie (Jacobs) Ludlum now resides in Northern California with her husband and two babies and Michael Elliott now lives in Texas. They were wonderful and were recognized for their work with awards from the San Diego Critic’s Circle. But the new cast that is being assembled consists of some of San Diego’s favorite musical performers and I am thrilled and excited to see what they bring to the roles. When I am finished casting I’ll share who they are and maybe they can be convinced to add to this blog as we begin rehearsals.

The production team is top notch. The talented G. Scott Lacy will be music directing and a designer I’ve loved and worked with several years ago, Corey Johnston, will be designing the costumes. Our resident artist lighting designer Eric Lotze is given the challenge of creating a live version of a black and white film and ┬áSam Lerner will be creating a soundscape that evokes the world of Stalin’s Moscow. And the many black and white props, including grey eggs and real black bread, will be created, as always, by Bonnie Durben.

It’s getting exciting.┬áMore to come…