BWW Interviews: Don Farrell Discusses Stage Door Player's I LOVE YOU, YOU'RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE
On March 22nd, The Stage Door Players, Dunwoody's professional theatre company, presents Off-Broadway's long running musical, "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change", featuring book and Lyrics by Joe DiPietro and music by Jimmy Roberts. The comedic musical explores the truths behind the complicated nature of "the enigma known as 'the relationship.' Exploring the journey from dating and waiting to love and marriage, to the agonies and triumphs of in-laws and newborns."
Stage Door's production stars Suzi Bass Award winners Laura Floyd ("Mount Pleasant Homecoming"), Craig Waldrip ("See What I Wanna See"), and Jeremy Wood ("Singin' in the Rain") and is being directed and choreographed by Don Farrell, the Artistic Director and Co-Founder of The Actors Theatre of Indiana. Having spent years working as an actor and singer Off-Broadway, in Las Vegas, on tour, and at major Regional Theatres, Farrell moved to Indiana, along with fellow performers Cynthia Collins and Judy Fitzgerald, to open the new company.
The week before the show opened, Farrell talked with Broadway World Atlanta about his career and his upcoming production. To get tickets to "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" click here or call (770) 396-1726.
After a long and successful career as an actor and singer, in 2005, you and two other New York performers moved to Indiana to open The Actors Theatre of Indiana. What brought about such a major change?
Over the years, my colleagues and I had built up a pretty successful careers as actors / directors / choreographers with theatres across the U.S. We thought that if other theatres believed in us enough to put on their musicals, we thought that maybe we had something here. After 9/11 happened, we started thinking about settling down and instead of waiting for the phone to ring, to flip the table and become the one who made the phone calls. So, after saving up a bit for some seed money, we made the plunge out of NY. One of my colleagues is from the Indianapolis area (Carmel, Indiana to be exact - 30 minutes north of Indy) with family and a rather strong support system, so when looking to decide where to start our theatre company, it made sense to relocate there. But not only was the climate right: a smaller city that was growing, had a strong support of the arts, was affluent, BUT most importantly, the Mayor of Carmel (a republican of all things) had a vision - to use the arts as an economic driver to the growth of its community. We also knew that there wasn't a professional Equity theatre company in Carmel or Hamilton County, and as all three of the founders are members of the Actors' Equity Association, we knew we would be unique offering to the community. Since we moved there, our growth has been impressively extensive, we bring in patrons from 45 counties across the state as well as 3% of our subscribers from out of state, and we continue to build on that strong foundation.
Last year you directed and starred in a production of "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" at Actors Theatre, how did that experience prepare you for doing the show here in Atlanta?
Actually, this is the third production of "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" I have directed and I have been fortunate to have been cast in three separate productions as well. Once I saw the show back in 1998 off-Broadway at The Westside Theatre, I was immediately drawn to it. From an actors' standpoint, it is exciting to play so many different types of people in various scenarios. It really challenges you as an actor to make each character unique and individual, and the challenge is you only have a short amount of time to develop your character as the show's structure is basically a series of vignettes. It's sketch comedy, but it has to be real. The audience has to be able to relate to each character and situation. Although I have had extensive experience with this show, each production is different and unique. No two productions are ever the same and the process of finding new things to explore when discussing the scenes with the actors is always exciting. And this is a difficult show as it is deceptively simple. There is always something going on...if not onstage...then its going on offstage! A collegaue of mine at another theatre jokingly called it, "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Go Change Your Clothes!"
How did your relationship with Stage Door Players come about?
This production is my Stage Door Players debut. I have known SDP's artistic Director Robert Egizio for years as a very accomplished actor and choreographer in the Atlanta area. A fellow colleague of ours, Gretchen Butler - production stage manager with the Georgia Ensemble Theatre - recommended my name to Robert during a meeting and when Robert called me to ask if I would be interested, I was honored to be considered.
Your four-person cast of Laura Floyd, Erin Meadows, Craig Waldrip, and Jeremy Wood includes some of Atlanta's best musical theatre talent. What has the rehearsal process with them been like so far?
Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the audition process as I was in production at the time for another show for my theatre in Indiana. But when Robert told me who was cast, I was very pleased to hear of the talent who would be in the production! Laura Floyd was the only actor whom I had worked with previously as I directed her in "Beyond The Rainbow" in 2008 at Georgia Ensemble Theatre. Even though the other three were new to me, I had heard wonderful things from colleagues of mine and I was excited to work with the cast. When I came to town, they had already been in music rehearsals with Peter Hauenstein, our music director. So when I arrived, I had to hit the ground running. We had a lot to cover in a short amount of time, but the cast is very talented, easy going, and it has been a pleasure working with them.
"I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" is one of the longest running musicals in theatre history, and millions of people have enjoyed it. What can Atlanta audiences expect from the show?
I hope that the audience comes away with the same feeling I experienced whe I saw the show off-Broadway. That night it was wonderful to see singles and couples attending the show experiencing the same revelation as me. There we all were, happily sitting in a darkened theatre enjoying the misadventures of these quirky characters, when all of a sudden, we were confronted with a situation onstage that was a perfect reflection of a moment in our own lives. Couples nudging each other as if to say, "Hey you do that! That's you up there!" At the end of the evening of the play, it is my hope that the audience will also recognize themselves or their loved ones in many situations onstage.
Is there anything else that Atlanta theatre fans should know about you, the show, or this production?
There is nothing better than being able to come home to work. My father received a double lung transplant back in 2010 and my Mother beat breast cancer, so any opportunity to spend time with my family is always very special to me. I grew up in Roswell, GA - attended Roswell High School from 8th grade to 11th grade, then auditioned for the Northside High School for the Performing Arts ShowBiz Kid's national touring company, was accepted and then transferred to the performing arts magnet school where I graduated in 1987. I went on to attend and graduate with a BFA in Music Theatre from the University of Cincinnati - College Conservatory of Music (CCM). From there I moved to NYC and the times I have come home to work, I have had the pleasure of working at such great local professional theatres as the Alliance Theatre, the Georgia Ensemble Theatre, the Springer Opera House and now the Stage Door players!