BWW Spotlight Series: Meet Cate Caplin, A Multiple Award-Winning Producer, Director and Choreographer

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BWW Spotlight Series: Meet Cate Caplin, A Multiple Award-Winning Producer, Director and ChoreographerWith the current theatre world on hiatus, I have created a Spotlight Series on Broadway World which features interviews with some of the many talented artists who make our Los Angeles theatre community so exciting and vibrant thanks to their ongoing contribution to keeping the Arts alive in the City of the Angels. And just like all of us, I wondered how they are dealing with the abrupt end of productions in which they were involved.

This Spotlight focuses on Cate Caplin, a multiple award-winning producer, director and choreographer whose talents have ignited productions on television, in films, music videos, commercials, and in theatrical venues worldwide. But of course, her busy schedule was put on hold with the rest of the world, just as she was beginning to direct and choreograph a musical very close to her heart.

BWW Spotlight Series: Meet Cate Caplin, A Multiple Award-Winning Producer, Director and ChoreographerWhile I assume almost everyone in the L.A. Theatre community knows of Cate and her contributions to the Arts, for those not lucky enough to have worked with her before, I am first sharing a bit of her theatrical background.

Cate Caplin has been devoted to the Arts all of her life, having started her dance training at age 5. She trained with many inspirational teachers and coaches over the years including summers at Interlochen Center for the Arts while continuing at the Washington School of Ballet, the Royal Academy in London, and the Metropolitan Ballet where she was a principal dancer. BWW Spotlight Series: Meet Cate Caplin, A Multiple Award-Winning Producer, Director and ChoreographerCate went on to dance with two more professional ballet companies before moving to NYC to continue her training, performing career dancing with the American Dance Machine, doing summer stock, performing internationally with the Broadway revival of West Side Story, and regionally with Disney's Symphonic Fantasy featured as Princess Jasmine for which she enjoyed a 22 city tour starting at the Hollywood Bowl and ending back in New York City at the Metropolitan Opera House. Her amazing talent and charisma on the dance floor led Cate to become a 34-time Regional and International Theatrical Ballroom Dance Champion.

BWW Spotlight Series: Meet Cate Caplin, A Multiple Award-Winning Producer, Director and ChoreographerTo this date, Cate has produced, directed and choreographed over 200 productions with her work seen on television, in films, music videos, commercials, and in theatrical venues worldwide from the Paris Opera House to the Broadway Stage. She wrote and directed her first feature film Mating Dance, which won an Accolade Award and can be found on Amazon.com. Her production company, Night & Day Entertainment, co-founded with her creative partner Vernon Willet, custom designs entertainment for private parties, corporate events and industrial trade shows.

BWW Spotlight Series: Meet Cate Caplin, A Multiple Award-Winning Producer, Director and ChoreographerFor her work in theatre, Cate has been the recipient of a Garland Award, a Women in Theatre Red Carpet Award, multiple LA Stage Alliance Ovation, Eddon and Scenie Awards, and was honored to receive an Award of Excellence from the LA Film Commission for her work as a Writer, Director, Choreographer and Producer. Last year, Playwright's Arena presented Cate with the lee Melville Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Los Angeles Theatre Community.

So how has such a talented and totally creative person been able to deal with the Coronavirus pandemic which has sidelined theatre worldwide? I spoke with Cate to find out.

Shari Barrett (SB): What production were you involved with when word went out it needed to immediately be either postponed or cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak?

BWW Spotlight Series: Meet Cate Caplin, A Multiple Award-Winning Producer, Director and ChoreographerCat Caplin (Cate): We had just cast 32 actors for a production of West Side Story that I was going to direct and choreograph for Inland Valley Repertory Theatre (IVRT) presented at Candlelight Pavilion. The show was officially canceled one day before our first day of rehearsal, same day that Broadway announced it was closing.

(SB): How was the shutdown communicated with the cast and production team?

(Cate): The producer, Frank Minano, emailed me and then the entire creative team and cast. Hearts were broken, of course, as we were very excited to begin. I had been so looking forward to creating the production since I was cast in the revival of the show when it was finishing its run on Broadway back in the 80's, and went on a six-month International Tour throughout Italy and at the Paris Opera House for three months. Our production was directed by Jerome Robbins and conducted by Leonard Bernstein! Needless to say, it was a thrill of a lifetime working on that classic show with the original creators.

BWW Spotlight Series: Meet Cate Caplin, A Multiple Award-Winning Producer, Director and Choreographer(SB): Let me know when you write a book about that tour! Are plans in place to present the IVRT production at a future date, or is the cancellation permanent?

(Cate): I believe the production is canceled completely because IVRT selects their shows based on what Candlelight is producing since they share the backdrop and primary set of what's being presented in their season. I'm not sure how that will play out, especially since no one really knows when theatre will be officially back in full form anywhere, and West Side Story is a big show with lots of physical contact and bodies interacting and dancing in close quarters. The nature of theatre as we knew it is changing dramatically and only time will tell how and what sort of creative work will be presented over the next few months and years. Many companies are canceling seasons completely and postponing productions into 2021, and even that is an unknown entity at this point.

(SB): What future productions on your schedule are also affected by the shutdown?

BWW Spotlight Series: Meet Cate Caplin, A Multiple Award-Winning Producer, Director and Choreographer(Cate): I have a production I am scheduled to direct in the fall and we are continuing with pre-production conversations sensitive to health and safety elements that are now part of the overall discussion and approach to creating live theatre. I hope we go forward with the show, but like everyone else, we just have to take it one day at a time...

(SB): How are you keeping the Arts alive while at home by using social media or other online sites?

(Cate): It's been interesting.... even though in theory I have more time each day without my usual classes, appointments, rehearsals and run around activities, my days continue to be quite full. BWW Spotlight Series: Meet Cate Caplin, A Multiple Award-Winning Producer, Director and ChoreographerI am reading lots of wonderful books, watching movies and some television series and specials I wouldn't ordinarily take the time to experience.

I have been taking some online classes offered by Yale University, and also tuning in to theatrical podcasts, seminars, and industry panel discussions since our theatrical community is intensely fertile at this time! I decided to jump into the electronic "pool" with everyone else and just signed on to direct my first Zoom staged reading of a new play later in July.

BWW Spotlight Series: Meet Cate Caplin, A Multiple Award-Winning Producer, Director and Choreographer(SB): What thoughts would you like to share with the rest of the L.A. Theatre community while we are all leaving the Ghostlight on and promising to return back to the stage soon?

(Cate): It's important to keep open to learning, stretching and growing, mentally, emotionally and spiritually during tough times. And now that there's time for more channels of inspiration, embrace those opportunities. Trust the "bigger plan" and try to navigate these uncharted waters with hope and faith in a most positive outcome: a renaissance of heightened compassion, empathy, inclusiveness, humanity and peace.

BWW Spotlight Series: Meet Cate Caplin, A Multiple Award-Winning Producer, Director and Choreographer(SB): For more information about Cate including future updates about her theatrical schedule, please visit CateCaplin.com, www.MatingDanceTheMovie.com, DanceInFlight.com

Photo captions (from top):

1. Cate Caplin

2. Cate Caplin dancing with the Legendary Francois Szony at Ford's Theatre

3. Cate Caplin as Princess Jasmine in rehearsal with Tom Slater as Aladdin at the Hollywood Bowl in Disney's Symphonic Fantasy touring production

4. Cate Caplin with Vernon Willet as part of a performance at the Hollywood Palladium

5. Cate Caplin winning one of her many Ovation Awards

6. Cate Caplin in the Ovation Award winning show "Swing!" at Musical Theatre West's Carpenter Performing Arts Center

7. Cate Caplin with Gary Franco outside the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

8. Cate Caplin with dance partner Murray Phillips winning the US OPEN

9. Cate Caplin with Murray Phillips dancing at the Feather Awards

10. Kristin Towers Rowles and Cate Caplin, star and director of A Lovely Lineage presented at Theatre West. Photo credit: Shari Barrett

11. Cate Caplin directing a production of "The Beat Goes On!" at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood


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