BWW Interview: Mark Stuart on the Relevance of New Dance Musical, STANDARD TIME
Mark Stuart Dance Theatre's critically acclaimed new dance musical, Standard Time, will play a limited engagement at The Duke on 42nd Street (229 W 42nd Street) in NYC Sunday, November 15 through Sunday, December 6, 2015. The new dance musical, which Dance Magazine called "Spectacular," features direction and choreography by award-winning choreographer Mark Stuart (Women on the Verge..., The Bandstand). Tickets are now on sale.
Standard Time is a 90-minute, action-packed and gravity-defying celebration of love's power to defy the endless cycle of prejudice in modern society. Showcasing Mark Stuart Dance Theatre's explosive brand of movement and storytelling, Standard Time follows three separate, period-specific love stories set against the backdrops of the Great Depression, the Civil Rights Movement, and today's fast evolving acceptance of Gay Rights. Danced to live music, the new dance musical features 12 dancers, 4 vocalists, and a 7-piece orchestra.
Broadwayworld spoke with creator and star Mark Stuart about how relevant his new show STANDARD TIME is in today's world.
How did you come up with the concept for this show?
The concept for STANDARD TIME was born out of the individual pieces I created over the first few years that Mark Stuart Dance Theatre existed. At the time, we were creating pieces for benefit nights for organizations such as Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids and Career Transition for Dancers, or festivals like Jacob's Pillow. Each of these pieces were created with the goal of making audiences think differently about the way that we as a society treat each other. I knew that someday I would string those stories together into a larger narrative, though at the time I didn't know how. When we finally decided that it was time to create a full-length show of our own, we weren't sure of the individual stories that would make up each act, but knew that we wanted to make a strong statement about the never-ending cycle of prejudice in this country over the last 100 years.
How long have you been working on this show?
We've been working on STANDARD TIME since the summer of 2012. After two workshops and three regional productions, we were presented with the opportunity to do the New York premiere at the DUKE on 42nd Street. We are so thrilled to bring the show to New York audiences and to see what the future may hold for STANDARD TIME.
Do you have a favorite moment in the show?
To be honest, my favorite moment of the show is something that just happened in August. Two days before our opening night in Lancaster, PA, we threw out the ending of the show and decided to create the ending we had always wanted... which isn't really an ending at all. It's a question... one meant to make audiences think about the way they treat each other.
What was the toughest part about putting this show together?
The toughest part of putting STANDARD TIME together is scheduling. We are a small company, but we have an incredible cast of Broadway, TV, and touring stars that are committed to the show's message, and believe in it with all their heart. However, hiring the best people in the business means that they are also making way for this show amidst all of their other commitments. So, very often we don't have the full cast together in the same room until the day of the first performance. It's chaotic, but we are so proud of the team effort by everyone in our cast, and as such, all the pieces always fall into place.
What can New York audiences expect?
New York audiences can expect to see a unique event that is truly unlike anything they have ever seen. Incredible dancing and singing, and to be challenged emotionally and intellectually about the way we look at our own lives and society as a whole.
Why is Standard Time relevant?
The relevance of STANDARD TIME is evident the moment you open a newspaper or turn on the evening news. Wherever there is love and freedom in this world, there are those who oppose it. It is our responsibility as artists to question this state of society and to use the gifts bestowed upon us to try to affect change. If we can change one person's mind toward a more peaceful coexistence, then we have won. That, is what STANDARD TIME is about.
The cast of Standard Time features creator, Mark Stuart, Jaime Verazin (Finding Neverland), along with Loren Allred ("The Voice"), Michael Balderrama (Movin' Out), Jerome Bell ("American Idol"), Michelle Camaya (Disney's The Lion King), Allyson Carr (Mamma Mia), Arielle Campbell (Memphis), Jon Drake (Dirty Dancing), Brian Golub, Sean Hingston (Contact), Ayo Jackson (Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark), Marc Heitzman (Movin' Out), Sarah Meahl, Alexis Simms, Rickey Tripp (In the Heights), CJ Tyson (Wicked, Beyonce), and Michael Williams (Wicked).
For more information, please visit: www.standardtimetix.org.