Jeff Calhoun Opens Up About Directing DUCK DYNASTY Musical & Overcoming Controversy Before the First Curtain
Tony nominee Jeff Calhoun is at it again, bringing the famed Robertson family of television's DUCKY DYNASTY to life in Las Vegas, as the director of the world premiere of DUCK COMMANDER MUSICAL, which began performances earlier this month at the Crown Theater inside Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino.
In a new interview with Out, Calhoun opened up about the messages within the show and its subjects, the production's "kick-ass" music and "amazing" score. Though faith is directly mentioned in the show's tagline, Calhoun assures the musical isn't based around religion.
"It's about this eccentric family that went from rags to riches and lived the American dream," he said. "And through it all, because of their strong faith, have kept together."
The news that Calhoun would remain with the production following Phil Robertson's homophobic comments in GQ back in 2013, surprised many. The Tony nominee, who says he was hurt by the comments, assures that the decision to remain with DUCK COMMANDER didn't come lightly.
"Above all, it's an entertainment, but we do not shy away from the controversy," he said. "It would be foolish not to deal with it or confront it. And we do - I insisted on it. They have also been very proud to truly reflect on it, not just on the good times, since Willie thinks of this as a play about redemption. It's going to be a fun evening, but it's very serious for everyone that's working on the show. To Willie and Korie and everyone.
"Like everybody else, all of our friends, I was angry, I was saddened. It was deplorable, what he said. But you have to remember, we had all become a sort of family, the creators, and I had brought on designers, lights, costumes, projections, casting directors, choreographer. We were all stunned. I guess that's where the soul searching began. Why do we want to do this. Should we do this?"
Following a long conversation with the family, Calhoun decided to stick with the creators and the DUCK COMMANDER team.
For the entirely of his interview with Out, click here.
The cast portraying America's favorite backwoods family will star Mimi Bessette as Miss Kay, Jesse Lenat as Uncle Si,Ginna Claire Mason as Korie, Ben Thompson as Willie, Tad Wilson as Phil, Russell Arden Koplin as Missy, Mary Little as Jessica, Tommy McDowell as Jase, Matt Stokes as Alan,Haley Swindal as Lisa, and Josh Tolle as Jep. DUCK COMMANDER MUSICAL also includes Chelsea Rae Bernier, Christopher Harrod, Charlie Ingram and Cathy Trien.
The DUCK COMMANDER MUSICAL transports the Louisiana bayou to the Las Vegas stage in a captivating 90-minute show seasoned with all the southern spirit and down-to-earth humor you expect from America's most famous rednecks, the Robertson family. But while the true-to-life, rags-to-riches story behind A&E's mega-hit DUCK DYNASTY will surely please its most loyal fans, audiences unfamiliar with the Robertsons will also find themselves charmed - and even moved - by this surprising tale of faith, food, and family.
The production is designed by Tobin Ost with lighting design by Michael Gilliam, sound design by John Trace, wig and hair design byCharles G. LaPointe, musical supervision by Jesse Vargas, orchestration by Steve Margoshes and casting by Duncan Stewart CSA/Benton Whitley CSA. It is produced by Tommy Mottola and the Dodgers, with Ollawood Productions.
Photo by Walter McBride