BWW Interview: Caitlin Graci of I LOVE YOU BECAUSE at Theatre Harrisburg
A modern take on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, I Love You Because first opened in 2006. What started as a grad project at NYU became a hit off-Broadway, and it is now about to open on the Krevsky Center stage at Theatre Harrisburg. With music by Joshua Salzman and lyrics by Ryan Cunningham, this musical explores relationships from breakups to rebounds, from friends to lovers and the many foibles that we often experience in the modern dating world. Broadway World had the opportunity to sit down with Caitlin Graci, director of I Love You Because at Theatre Harrisburg, and to take a sneak peek at their upcoming production.
Caitlin Graci: grew up in Harrisburg where she graduated from Cumberland Valley High School. After attending Point Park University and doing "the theatre thing" in New York, Caitlin found her way back to Harrisburg. Her directorial debut at Theatre Harrisburg was Wild Party. She also directed a few cabarets and Tick Tick Boom in 2007 and 2008. Caitlin started her own theatre company, Bare Bones Theatre Ensemble, which largely performs in bars and presents edgier shows generally geared toward the 20-50 something crowd.
I Love You Because consists of a 6-person cast: Kayla Kasper (Diana), TJ Creedon (Austin), Lexi Fazzolari (Marcy), Josh Schwartz (Jeff), and Carly Lafferty and Tyler Chick (Ensemble)
BWW: For those who love Jane Austen, how does this show modernize and bring that storyline to life?
Caitlin: I truly think the best way to relate the show back to the Pride and Prejudice roots is that it's so much about trying to find love-true love-and finding what makes people tick. It is so modern; we're setting it right in 2018. In fact, when it was originally written, they talked about looking up movie times, but it wasn't quite on smart phones yet. It's interesting to explore the way that society is now and to look at the way that "Generation X" and "Millennials" see relationships in totally different ways. It's very interesting to me to look at, with all the social media, things like how do you know what is really real and genuine?
BWW: What song in the show would you say is the biggest "crowd-pleaser" and why?
Caitlin: I think the biggest show stopping number is probably the opening number "Another Saturday Night in New York". That being said, there are so many gut-wrenching ballads in the show. It's not really a toe-tapping show in terms of music, but there are so many moments in this show that are so real, and the actors are so great that they really connect to the material.
BWW: I had the opportunity to hear "Another Saturday Night in New York" in rehearsal. The song really sets the scene, painting a picture of New York, and a man (Austin, played by TJ Creedon) ready to meet up with the love of his life. The cast attacks this opening song with great energy. The harmonies are tight and difficult, but the cast managed them with great skill while showing vocal agility and spitting out a lot of words.
BWW: What was the most challenging part of directing this show?
Caitlin: The small cast. The music is challenging, so I knew from the start that I needed six really strong singers. And, the book is intense, so I also needed people who could act really well. The characters have to be very grounded individuals, so that they don't come off looking comic when they aren't supposed to. We've also built in some challenges in how we are performing the show. We are doing the show in the round, with a very minimal pit, and with no microphones. But the cast is amazing and the tech crew is absolutely fantastic.
BWW: I Love You Because is very effective in the round. The audience has the opportunity to feel that they are sitting in the apartment or the bar or the coffee shop with the characters.
BWW: If you had to pick a favorite scene or song, which one would it be and why?
Caitlin: I will say when TJ, playing Austin, finally decides that he is going to embrace this woman that he has fallen head over heels for without question...he sings this song called "Goodbye", the second to last song in the show. It's a power-house of a song, and the emotion the he puts behind it is just amazing. He's one of these characters who has his whole life planned out, and he finally realizes that you just can't do that, that life doesn't work that way. It's such a revelation to him, and this song shows him in that moment.
BWW: Why should people come see this show?
Caitlin: The unbelievable talent. These six performers are such stars. There is not a weak link in the show. I think people will be surprised to see a show completely in the round here; I don't think it's been done in some time. It's also a beautifully well-written and relatable show, especially for anyone who has ever fallen in love before. Even if they're not willing to admit it, there's so much that is so relatable. And you can't beat the voices in this show-they are just so talented.
BWW: Talk about relatable. From lost keys, to relationships that fall apart, to hanging out at coffee shops, there are elements in this story that will resonate with everyone. The cast does an amazing job at making it feel very real. In the scene where Marcy is trying to figure out if she did the right thing by ending her relationship, Diana is on a hunt for her keys and completely tunes Marcy out. I love this scene for the authenticity. So many times we get focused on something and miss other things going on around us. Kayla Kasper and Lexi Fazzolari execute this scene perfectly.
BWW: One of the themes in the show seems to be about how opposites attract. What do you think about that?
Caitlin: I absolutely think opposites can attract, and when they do, it works out in such a beautiful way. In the show, the four main characters could not be more night and day and in very different ways. It's neat and has been fun watching the actors exploring these different characters, especially because, for the most part, they are not these people in real life.
BWW: Not only are the romantic couples opposites, but the friends are opposites as well. Seeing Diana, the logical actuary, interacting with Marcy, the free-spirited photographer, in "The Actuary Song" highlights these differences in an endearing and humorous way.
BWW: In the show Austin realizes that his ex-girlfriend didn't know how he took his coffee, but Marcy does. In your opinion how important is it to know how your loved one takes their coffee?
Caitlin: Every couple has their little things that only they know about the other person. I think that's what the coffee thing is trying to explain, and it does it really well. The one character, Austin, constantly drinks his coffee black because he can't give up control enough to let someone else make it. Marcy, on the other hand, will just ask the barista to make it however they want. It really shows how you can be completely opposite and still be completely in love with each other.
BWW: If you had been set up on a date with one of the characters, who would you hope it would be and why?
Caitlin: None of them and all of them, at the same time. I would hope to be set up on a date with the female ensemble. She's the most down to earth. And she's built this whole backstory that she is secretly playing the match-maker and constantly blogging about it.
BWW: Is there anything else you would want people to know about this production?
Caitlin: It will leave you thinking a bit more than when you first walked in about how love can really affect you. Hopefully it will help people open up their minds a little to the fact that the person who doesn't seem perfect, might be perfect for them.
BWW: After getting a sneak peek, I can't wait to see the final product!
I Love You Because opens at Theatre Harrisburg on March 2nd and runs through the 18th. Visit www.theatreharrisburg.com for details and tickets. Note: this show is intended for mature audiences.