BWW Interviews: Talks with Christy Montour-Larson, Her Award Winning Career and What it Takes to Be a Great Director!
MM: Christy, On behalf of BroadwayWorld, I just want to say how much I adore you and the wonderful work that you’ve done over the past years in Denver.
CML: Oh, thanks. I’ve been pretty blessed to work on some great stories.
MM: So, the last time I saw you was in your Henry-award winning direction in Red. How did that play impact your life?
CML: Well, it sure is wonderful when a lot of people see your work. And I think that because Red had such great word of mouth, and we had such great attendance that it affects my life, I mean you’re just kindof walking down the street there were just so many people that have seen it and really enjoyed it, I’m sure. Makes you feel really great.
MM: So from A Number to 9 Circles, Proof, Rabbit Hole, I Am My Own Wife, and Red, you’ve directed some of the most thought-provoking shows in Denver. What draws you to a script?
CML: Well I like the darker side. My husband has a theory that one of the reasons why I’m normally a very bubbly person is because I get it all out in the darker parts of plays. And I think that’s what drew me to directing, Michael, is that when I was an actor, I was the kooky ingénue. I played a lot of light stuff, I played the mezzo/soprano, and I never got to play the juicy roles. And what I really wanted inside, was I felt like I was John Proctor. Or I was King Lear. And I never felt like my outside matched what was going on inside. And the great thing about being a director is that I can go inside all these really dark plays that is for humanity. I love that.
MM: Yes, I could actually see that within your direction in the script. So can you tell us a little more about your thought process when interpreting a script?
CML: The first rule I have is to first do no harm. Some people like to think that directing is…that it’s all the director’s baby. And you’ll hear people say “Well, it’s their baby,” the director saying “It’s my baby!” And I like to think of myself more as a obstetrician. That I’m there to make sure that the story is brought forth clearly, evocatively, emotionally, and I get involved extremely seriously when there’s something wrong – to jump in, to encourage people to go deeper into the play than they thought was possible. You know, if the heartbeats starts fading or the umbilical cord is wrapped around the neck, then I can jump in and I know how to save it.
MM: Okay. So was there a defining moment in your life that you decided you wanted to be a director, or a turning point in your life that you decided that?
CML: Yeah. Well, I started off, I thought I was gonna be a high school drama teacher. So I started directing young people. And one day there was a local theatre company in Duluth by my house and they were doing their children’s production, and the director quit, the day before auditions. And they said, well there’s this girl who’s directing the junior high and high school play, and maybe she could jump in. And they asked me if I could start the next day, and Michael, I think it paid $500 which was two months’ rent, and I had a blast. And the next show that this playhouse did was A Christmas Carol, and nobody wanted to direct it because it was always this disastrous production every year. So, they hired me to do that and it went really well. And then they asked me to Diary of Anne Frank, and that really changed a lot of things. With Christmas Carol, you know, most of the cast was older, and you know the only people that were younger than me in A Christmas Carol were the Cratchit kids. So I like that storytelling aspect about it. And I think it’s because I grew out of my type – my acting type so quickly.
MM: Well I think you’re just so gifted in directing. So I would love to see you act but I just adore watching you direct.
CML: I always thought, well someday I’ll go back into my type again, maybe when I’m in my 60’s, ya know?
MM: So I’m excited about your work in THE GIVER. Why is this work significant to you?