BWW Blog: Rommy Sandhu of THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN - Storytelling is the Key

August 18
1:53 PM 2014
BWW Blog: Rommy Sandhu of THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN - Storytelling is the Key

What a week this has been. The cast was excited to be on their feet, turning the cerebral into the physical. It's been a week of staging, cutting, adding, discussing and finessing. It's important to remember that everyone is valuable, and finding the best way to utilize their individual talents goes "part and parcel" with team leadership.

Storytelling is the key to creating a meaningful show. Being clear in the simple desire that the characters should mean what they say is the cornerstone in the foundation of the play. To tell the story, the author, director and actor must work together to discover the best way to complete the task at hand. Dick Scanlan, with his advice and knowledge is one of the best guides through the mountains of text and lyric that I've had the pleasure to work with. Combine that with Kathleen's own insights and sense for detail, and this is a master class in construction. The final part of the theatrical triumvirate is the actor. New pages, minute changes in dialogue and patterns of speech would make anyone's head swim. Watching Beth Malone (Molly Brown) and Burke Moses (J.J. Brown) balance on the verbal tightrope, while taking genuine care and concern for each other's place is a constant reminder that we share the stage with each other. Nothing is ever as simple as stand here, do this say that. They spend time creating staging that helps the other shine.

Beginning with the simple activity of reading through the lines before staging the scene brings up thoughts and questions. That discussion and the answers it provides in turn help to put everyone on the same page. And then the process becomes that much more effective.

Let's not forget...this is a musical. The monumental task of interpreting Meredith Willson's music rests firmly on Michael Rafter's shoulders. Music, as most of us know, is a craft rarely mastered at the presentational level. The actually construction of it is an art form unto itself. Michael spends countless hours finessing musical phrases to find just the right structure to enhance the moment. The beautiful Willson melodies have planted themselves firmly in my ears and I find myself humming them as I walk. Place those melodies into David Chase's dance arrangements and you've got a recipe for joy. My feet can't stop moving, and neither can the cast's!

By the end of the week, we've staged a large portion of an exciting first act. The miners have been serenading the mountains with "Colorado, My Home." Molly (Beth) travels the entire stage faster than a Denver Broncos Quarterback Blitz. And the full company gets caught up in the swirling fun of "Belly Up to the Bar Boys"! Most of us know how hard it is to catch your breath while dancing a production number in a studio or onstage at sea-level. Now just imagine leaping, twirling, and going full out in Denver at 5280 feet (mile high)! When you're having a great time, like this cast is, it's a blast. Now it's off to Leadville, really, for some research and to walk in Molly and JJ's footprints. Belly Up!


BWW Blog: Rommy Sandhu of THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN - Storytelling is the Key
Change is good!

BWW Blog: Rommy Sandhu of THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN - Storytelling is the Key
A bit of fun with Kathleen Marshall, Beth Malone, David Abeles and Constantine Germanacos.

BWW Blog: Rommy Sandhu of THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN - Storytelling is the Key
Kathleen Marshall explaining the structure of 'Belly Up', while listening to David Chase's arrangement sent from the East Coast. Technology at work!

BWW Blog: Rommy Sandhu of THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN - Storytelling is the Key
The Miners of Leadville! (Top L-R; Karl Josef Co, Gregg Goodbrod, Paolo Montalban, John Scherer, Keven Quillon, John Hickock. Bottom L-R; Michael Halling, Omar Lopez Cepero, David Abeles, Constantine Germanacos).

BWW Blog: Rommy Sandhu of THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN - Storytelling is the Key
Paolo Montalban, David Abeles, Constantine Germanacos and Burke Moses serenading the Gals

BWW Blog: Rommy Sandhu of THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN - Storytelling is the Key
Patty Goble, Linda Mugleston and Omar Lopez Cepero working on a vocal arrangement with Michael Rafter, Dick Scanlan and David Dabbon


About the Author

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Guest Blogger: Rommy Sandhu For over 20 years, Rommy Sandhu has worked continuously as a director, choreographer, actor, singer, dancer, and teacher in productions encompassing Broadway, off-Broadway, national tours, regional theatre, television, film, universities, and more. Throughout his career he has worked with many of Broadway’s top directors and

choreographers, including Tony Award winners Susan Stroman, Kathleen Marshall, Graciela Daniele, Matthew Bourne, George C. Wolfe, Richard Eyre, Michael Blakemore, and Trevor Nunn. Mr. Sandhu has directed and/or choreographed numerous productions off-Broadway, at the NY Fringe Festival, for CUNY and Hofstra University, and the opening numbers of the Broadway Cares/EFA 26th Annual Easter Bonnet and 23rd/24th Annual Gypsy of The Year competitions. He has staged multiple productions of

Disney/Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins, notably the US Regional premier at Tuacahn Center for the Arts (choreographer) as well as Coeur D’Alene Summer Theater (director/choreographer). More recent work includes staging and choreography for Christmas Eve with Christmas Eve starring Ann Harada (Avenue Q, Cinderella, Smash). He also staged the finale production number of Something Good: A Broadway Salute to Richard Rodgers on His 100th Birthday. Additionally, he served as associate choreographer for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer on Broadway, New York City Center Encores’ Bells Are Ringing and Applause, the off-Broadway premier of The Ark at 37 ARTS, the original pre-Broadway workshop of Thoroughly Modern Millie, and regional productions of Breaking Up Is Hard to Do, The Gershwins’ Fascinating Rhythm, and Maury Yeston’s adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen.

As a performer, Mr. Sandhu has appeared on Broadway in Mary Poppins, A Christmas Carol, Oklahoma! (all as dance captain), Bombay Dreams, Annie Get Your Gun, On The Town, The Life, Sweet Charity in Concert, Children and Art, and in the first national tours of Carousel and Kiss Me, Kate (dance captain). He has also been featured on the hit television series Smash, and in multiple Tony Award and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade telecasts. As an educator, Mr. Sandhu serves as adjunct faculty for NYU’s CAP 21 program and Marymount Manhattan College’s musical theatre department, as well

as being a frequent guest instructor at Broadway Dance Center and Onstage New York.