Q&A with Todd Haimes: DON'T DRESS FOR DINNER
What about Camoletti's famous French farce excites you the most? Why does this type of comedy work so well on stage?
Don't Dress for Dinner is actually a sequel to Boeing- Boeing, which I really loved when it was done on Broadway a few years ago. I think Camoletti was one of the best writers of farce, in France or really anywhere. He had a gift for both the physical play and the verbal play that makes this genre shine, and all of that will be on full display here. Farce itself is such a blast to do, and I think it's particularly exciting to get to do it while revisiting characters from Boeing-Boeing, including Bernard and Robert, two men who apparently can't get through a night of romance without a whole lot of chaos. But this farce is more than just slamming doors and costume changes (though we have plenty of those!). It's got a lot of heart, and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised to find that you actually care a great deal about these characters and will really understand why they go to such ridiculous extremes to protect the relationships they hold dear. I'm honestly thrilled to bring the further adventures of Bernard and Robert to Broadway, and I can't wait to share their latest antics.
How does this comedy fit into the Roundabout season?
I realize that we've taken our audience to some dark places this fall, from Frank Langella's manipulative father in Man and Boy, to the many misfortunes of the Douiahy family in Sons of the Prophet, to the suicide note writers of Suicide, Incorporated. In addition, our upcoming productions of The Road to Mecca and Look Back in Anger are sure to deliver in the dramatic department. While all of those plays are great at showing the humor that can be found even in life's toughest moments, I still feel that we are primed and ready to delve into a play that is all about pure joy. Farce is such a unique genre, and I really want to bring our audiences a strong dose of unabashed delight. That was what I felt when I saw John's production of Don't Dress for Dinner in Chicago-there's nothing quite like spending a whole evening laughing! I thought John had a fresh take on the play, and it feels incredibly fun and contemporary for having been written nearly 30 years ago.
Will this be the same production that John Tillinger mounted in Chicago?
Obviously, with the same director on board, we're starting from the same basic point-of-view as that production. But once you start working with some different designers and some different actors, you've got something new on your hands. Especially with a farce, where the physical production and the physicality of the performers are so important, this Broadway production is going to have a feel that is all its own.
Why do you find yourself returning to certain directors, like John Tillinger?
One of the great things about an institutional theatre like Roundabout is that you get the opportunity to form long-term relationships with artists. And in the case of someone like John, our collaboration does go back quite a long way. He actually directed Arthur Miller's The Price for us back in 1992, during the company's first season on Broadway. In fact, with Gordon Edelstein also back with us this year with The Road to Mecca, that means that we have two of our directors returning from that first Broadway season. I love that we get to have that kind of consistency at Roundabout, to continue our strongest artistic relationships over a long period of time. And I hope to keep that up with directors like Sam Gold, who will soon start rehearsals for his second production with Roundabout, Look Back in Anger. If Roundabout is still working with people of that caliber twenty years from now, I'll be thrilled.
Don't Dress for Dinner will begin performances at the American Airlines Theatre beginning March 30, 2012 with opening night on April 24, 2012.