by RoxyRegionalTheatre on January 24, 2014

When the late great John Dexter, who had headed up the National Theatre of Great Britain, was called in to be the artistic director for the Metropolitan Opera, he was there to save what was then a sinking ship.

Plans were already in place to produce two new productions, Verdi’s La Forza del Destino and Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites. The new stage director wanted to add a scene which had been cut from the previous production. This meant the proposal of a whole new production — sets, costumes, the works — with a huge budget.

Dexter asked, “Don’t we already have a beautiful production of Forza?” Yes, they did, but the proposed new scene was missing from the current production. However, they did have Eugene Berman’s original set design for the previously unperformed scene. “Well,” said Dexter, “let’s just use that design.” So they did, adding it to what they already had and saving thousands.

The same was true for Dialogues of the Carmelites. Dexter was shown sketches for nuns’ costumes and, after looking them over, asked, “Don’t we already have nuns’ costumes from Suor Angelica and Il Trovatore? Why not use them?” So they did, again saving thousands.

Dexter and I have something in common. We’re both artistic directors, and we both like to save money. So, when mounting our revival of Tales of Hans Christian Andersen, I thought of Mr. Dexter a lot.

We borrowed some beautiful costumes from Lilo Rogoish’s vast collection, and we pulled scene drops which John Mark and Will Holleman have never seen — a beautiful woods with a full moon (created and painted some years ago by Amber Wallace for Beauty and the Beast and used many times since), a toy shop drop (painted by Clare Coyle Taylor for Pinocchio, on which we simply painted over “Geppetto” so that it now serves for the steadfast soldier’s toy box), and a barnyard scene (which I painted myself some years ago for our production of Honk and which hasn’t been seen in a dog’s year).

All of these multi and motley costume changes with scene drops flying in and out will help keep the show moving, the children engaged (with audience participation), and the parents and grandparents happy. Kings, queens, princesses, princes, pigs, owls, ducks and swans gracing the stage will make for a fast-moving, fast-paced, fun-loving theatre outing for all ages.

Tales of Hans Christian Andersen — featuring Michelle Foletta, Leslie Greene, Jake Jessup, Eli Jolley, Ted Kitterman and Michael Spaziani — plays at 2pm on Saturdays through February 8. The Vagina Monologues continue upstairs in theotherspace through February 1, with performances at 7pm on Thursdays and 8pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra is in rehearsal with Michael Spaziani, Allie McCaw, Ryan Bowie and Morgan Billings, and preparations are underway for our annual Valentine’s Day soiree, “Martinis with Frank” on February 14 at 7pm ($50 per person, including drinks, hors d’oeuvres and My Way at 8pm).

See you at the theatre!

[John McDonald]

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