Post Playhouse Artistic Director to Stage INTO THE WOODS in Mandarin Language Debut
Slow boat to China? Not for Post Playhouse Artistic Director Tom Ossowski, whose Omaha-Chicago-Bejing flight jetsets him Into the Woods. In the months to come, Tom-who speaks no Chinese-will stage the first-ever Mandarin production of Sondheim's musical exploration of what happens after happily-ever-after.
"I'll be working through an interpreter," he says. "We're doing the show-start to finish, auditions to final curtain-in Chinese." The company will draw from advanced music theatre university students and professors at Bejing's Central Academy of Drama. And while the project is not a cultural exchange per se, American Musical Theatre is its own unique genre.
"Our style of working, directing, and approaching a musical-our methods-are distinctive, essentially American," Tom says. "I've spent my career both teaching at the university level [associate professor in the acclaimed BFA Music Theatre Program at Florida State University and Head of Music Theatre Department at Illinois Wesleyan University] and directing professionally. I 'get' how to bridge the transition from classroom to the Broadway stage, so it's all the more exciting for me to do this on an international scale, in Asia."
For the record, Tom has worked on similar projects in Europe. "Teaching and directing in German," he says. "But I do speak German." Indeed, he is scheduled to return to Berlin following his Bejing stint-and prior to New York City auditions for this summer's Post Playhouse shows.
"I keep busy," the cornhusker native-he hails from Beatrice, Nebraska--acknowledges. "That's show biz. Right now I'm reviewing audition videos for Bejing and working out preliminary blocking of the script. It gives me a rush to look at the show's title spelled out in Chinese characters. It's almost surreal. Like Into the Woods itself."
Tom landed the directorial gig via NYC's Town Square Productions, a Broadway-based company that is grassroots and global in scope, backing shows and events that provide one-of-a-kind opportunities. "I contacted them; they called me, and a skype interview with the Academy in Bejing cinched the deal," he recounts. "Today's technology plays a big part in our being able to bring about cultural understanding."
Tom promises to update Post Playhouse with Bejing Bytes as preproduction gets underway-three months of intensive work before the curtain goes up on an exuberant two-week run.