BWW Interview: Director And Choreographer, Amy Marie McCleary of WHITE CHRISTMAS at Dutch Apple Dinner Theater
AMY MARIE MCCLEARY (Director/Choreographer) is currently a resident director/choreographer for Prather Entertainment Group where she has performed, directed and choreographed for the past twelve years. Most recently, she choreographed the new national tour of The Wizard of Oz with Apex Touring. At the Dutch Apple she has directed and choreographed Cats, Hairspray, 9 to 5 and I Love A Piano.
As a performer Amy has played Lola in Damn Yankees (Broadway Palm), Velma in Chicago (Broadway Palm West), Gladys in The Pajama Game (Dutch Apple), Sheila in A Chorus Line (Broadway Palm) and Bombalurina in Cats (Prather Entertainment Group Tour). Other favorite direction/choreography credits include Memphis (2015 National Tour), Footloose, Sister Act, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Ain't Misbehavin', Spamalot (regional premiere), The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical, Grease and Some Enchanted Evening. Her favorite production is that of her family - complete with a four year old daughter and two year old son. Amy received her BFA from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and now makes her home in Southwest Florida.
Visit her online at www.amymariemccleary.com
BWW: Describe the plot of "White Christmas" for a prospective audience member only familiar with the classic Bing Crosby song.
White Christmas is the story of two army buddies (played by Bob Hope and Danny Kaye in the film) who make it big in show business after WWII. They follow the Haynes sisters (played by Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen in the film) up to an inn in Vermont where they discover their General is working as the owner and having a tough time transitioning to civilian life. They plan a Christmas surprise for him with the help of the two girls and their showbiz pals. It's a story of generosity and love for your fellow man, with comedy, romance and a fondness for the overall Christmas season.
BWW: What are some of the perks and challenges of being both the director and the choreographer on the same show?
The only challenge for me is being able to teach everything in our short rehearsal period. We rehearse for ten days before heading into tech and when i'm in charge of both the scene work and the dances it makes for some long days. When I work with a separate director we get to divide and conquer!
That being said, being both the director and the choreographer is an absolute joy for me and something I prefer for most shows. I love being in charge of the full production and it aids tremendously in transitions. Even when I was just working as a choreographer telling the story through the movement was very important to me - so directing just feels like an extension of what I love to do.
BWW: Was it hard to get the cast and crew into the Christmas spirit considering you started rehearsals months before December?
The wonderful thing about White Christmas is that is a great Christmas show that isn't overtly focused on the holiday itself. It's a great story that just happens to take place during Christmas. To me - it's essentially about giving. Giving cheer, giving joy, giving love - and being able to accept the gifts that people give us. Those are themes which are easier to embrace during the holiday season - but we should carry them with us throughout the year. The cast has really embraced the idea of creating a showbiz family that gathers to create something special - what the characters in the show are doing for the General is basically what the actual cast is doing for the Dutch Apple audiences, so it's been easy!
We started rehearsals on November 2nd - and by the time we got a week in there was a lovely chill in the air and Christmas music was being played on the radio - so we were all in.
BWW: If Broadway wanted to do a "White Christmas" revival, what actors would you like to see cast and why?I think that Juliane Hough would make a great Judy - she has that bubbly energy and would dance it perfectly. I just saw Betsy Wolfe in Waitress and she'd be a great Betty - it's a really emotional role. Someone like Corbin Bleu would make a great Phil, he just starred on Broadway in Holiday Inn and he has that carefree, song and dance man personality. You have to find a wonderful singer for Bob - the first name that comes to mind is Harry Connick Jr. - he understands how to sing those mid-century melodies!
Of course, I think our cast at the Dutch Apple is pretty great!
BWW: Rudolph or Frosty?
I've always been partial to Rudolph. His sweet little speaking voice gets me every time!
White Chirstmas opens at Dutch Apple Dinner Theater on November 16. Tickets and more information can be found at their website https://dutchapple.com/