BWW Interview: Director Leigh Silverman On Her Longstanding Career in New York Theater and THE OUTER SPACE
Iconic director, Leigh Silverman, has made a career of being involved with new work - including over 40 productions in New York - and has witnessed her passion for the artistic process and collaboration lead to much success.
This spring, Silverman reunites with the talented Ethan Lipton, for his latest musical, The Outer Space. This out-of-this-world show is a feast for the imagination and takes audiences on a journey of contemplation and discovery as they consider what life away from the stresses of planet Earth could be like. This witty, heartfelt, and rockin' new masterpiece takes place at Joe's Pub at The Public Theater and creates a fun and relaxed atmosphere that makes audience not want to come back down to reality.
BroadwayWorld had the exciting opportunity to chat with Silverman about this invigorating production, her longstanding career in New York Theater, and collaborating with Lipton once again at the Public.
What elements of this production were most intriguing to you?
It's a challenge, because The Outer Space is this kind of genre-busting show. It's a solo show musical --there's a story, it's rock show, and takes place in Joe's Pub, which is its own special environment. For me, wrangling all of these different elements, so that they fit together into one cohesive evening have been the most exciting and challenging facets.
Can you talk about your experience and what it's meant to be back working with Ethan Lipton at the Public?
Ethan is such an amazing performer - he's this charismatic charm bomb and takes you along on this journey, so it feels like you are experiencing live theater in this unusual and revelatory way.
It's amazing to work with Ethan again! He has such a unique voice and is such a singular talent. The way he combines playwriting with musicianship really makes these shows so special. It's super fun and a huge honor to be working this closely with Ethan again.
How does a venue like Joe's Pub make the experience unique?
We have these amazing designers working on the show. David Zinn and Ben Stanton - David did the set and costumes and Ben did the lights. People really feel like it's a full show - it also feels a little bit environmental, because David's a genius. It really feels like we are all on this spaceship in the middle of the stars together and that's the magic of Joe's Pub and these amazing designers!
You are also directing, On the Exhale, at Roundabout's Black Box Theater. Do you have any secrets to finding balance when being involved in multiple productions at once?
There's no balance (laughs). It's such great fortune to be collaborating with wonderful artists and having work produced at the same time. There's zero control, and you must make the art and if you are lucky enough, you get to keep doing it. You make the work the priority, and in this moment, I feel so lucky!
I have to ask you about highlights from New Group's production of Sweet Charity last fall. What stands out most to you?
It was such an amazing opportunity, and so great to figure out what was interesting to Sutton [Foster] about how we wanted to tell this story and who our version of Charity was. Sutton wanted to do the musical Off-Broadway in a place that we could explore the show in a way that we wanted to dig in, and it was a very intense and collaborative environment, with Mary-Mitchell Campbell who did our orchestration and Joshua Bergasse who did the choreography. We had an all-female band and an amazing cast that only consisted of 12 people. It's was an incredibly challenging and inspiring piece - to take the iconic music and put it inside of a production that felt contemporary and very adamantly feminist was incredibly satisfying and felt so worthwhile.
Photo Courtesy of The Public Theater