Interview: David Rambo's CONFESSION On His Re-Introduction of HENRY JEKYLL, M.D.

Next up at L.A. Theatre Works, David Rambo’s adaptation The Confession of Henry Jekyll, M.D. playing April 14th through April 16th

Photos: First Look at Peppermint, Daya Curley, Sarah Stiles & More in A TRANSPARENT MUSICAL at Center Theater Group

Next up at L.A. Theatre Works, The Confession of Henry Jekyll, M.D., David Rambo's adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic horror novel, "Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" playing April 14th through April 16th. Anna Lyse Erikson directs Seamus Dever in the titular role. David managed to squeeze out some time between his many, many producing/ writing gigs to answer a few of my queries.

Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed by me again.

Always a pleasure, Gil!

The last time was also for LATW in 2017 when LATW commissioned you to create The Tug of War. Is this present production The Confession of Henry Jekyll, M.D. also a commission piece? Or did you pitch it to LATW?
Susan Loewenberg approached me to ask if there was a property that I would be interested in adapting for LATW. We kicked a few ideas around, but when she came up with doing a modern-day Jekyll and Hyde, I knew that was the one.

What versions of Dr. Jekyll have you seen?
Only two of the films, both of which have tremendous performances: one starring Fredric March version and the one with Spencer Tracy.

When did you first read Robert Louis Stevenson's novel? High school assignment? Just a guilty pleasure read?
I'm embarrassed to admit that I never read it until LATW called. Frankly, it was a revelation. Stevenson's writing is astonishingly vivid, telling the story from multiple points of view and literary forms, which must have been startling to Victorian era readers.

Photos: First Look at Peppermint, Daya Curley, Sarah Stiles & More in A TRANSPARENT MUSICAL at Center Theater GroupWhen did the gestation period begin for Henry Jekyll? Did you work on it during your off-time from your various television and film gigs?
This happened quickly. I was busy with post-production on a Dolly Parton Christmas movie for NBC until around Thanksgiving. I read the novel during the first week of January and started writing the play about a week later. It proceeded surprisingly quickly. There were the usual multiple drafts before I felt confident sharing one with Susan.

What era is your Henry Jekyll set in? The original 1880's? Or updated?
Today in New York City.

What particular incidents of Dr. Jekyll's life will you be covering?
The most important incident is his friendship with his lawyer, Nick. That character is a key element of the novel but plays a diminished role in most of the film versions. I hadn't expected the Henry/Nick friendship to be the spine of Stevenson's narrative. I expand on that in my version. Henry and Nick have been friends since boarding school; they fell in love with the same woman (Henry won) and share the important events of their lives. However, Henry has a secret life that he feels he can't share with anyone, not even Nick, and it's this secret that ruptures the friendship and leads to the climax of the play.

Besides Susan Loewenberg and her LATW crew, have you worked with any of Henry Jekyll's cast or creatives before?
I'm thrilled that Susan's longtime producer Anna Lyse Erikson will be directing and that my longtime friend and frequent collaborator Seamus Dever is playing the title character. We met when he was cast in a CSI episode I wrote a few years back as a Simon Cowell-type TV host. He's terrific!

I had previously asked you about adapting your script to be performed audibly only for a LATW production. Would you need much tweaking to morph Henry Jekyll into a full-on stage production?
Not much. I'd love to see it fully staged.

Photos: First Look at Peppermint, Daya Curley, Sarah Stiles & More in A TRANSPARENT MUSICAL at Center Theater GroupYou are a known valuable entity on the television screens, but I'd like to ask you about your theatre credits. I'll name your plays and you say a sentence or a thought about them, Okay?
Sure!

Your first play - God's Man in Texas:
Three years of writing that gave me the next 25 years of my life.

The Lady With All the Answers @ The Old Globe w/Randy Graff:
A dream come true, working with Randy and director Tom Moore at a theatre I have always loved.

The Lady With All the Answers @ The Cherry Lane w/Judith Ivey:
Judy was sublime!

The Ice-Breaker:

A love story and my warning shot on climate change, having no idea that 17 years after it premiered the changes are occurring more rapidly than we could have forecasted then.

Sunset Boulevard @ the Hollywood Bowl:
Goosebumps. Betty Buckley, Douglas Sills, Len Cariou, John Mauceri and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra!

Photos: First Look at Peppermint, Daya Curley, Sarah Stiles & More in A TRANSPARENT MUSICAL at Center Theater GroupThe Actors' Fund's All About Eve:
Most thrilling performance experience of my life, thanks to Gordon Davidson and his cast performing Joe Manckiewicz's still-glittering screenplay.

LATW's Adam's Rib:
My first time working with Anne Heche, who was delightful and a worthy successor to Katharine Hepburn in the role.

LATW's The Tug of War:
Still dying to see a fully staged production; it's a nail-biter of a story and more relevant than ever.

Babbitt:
Oh, such fun - I created it for a production by the Drama School of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and it led to the school presenting me with an Honorary Doctorate.

Paint Your Wagon:
I cherish the memories of working on this with Gil Cates for his Geffen Playhouse - he was a mentor, champion, father figure and friend.

You are on the committee raising funds for The Hollywood Arts Collective (151 units of affordable housing for artists in the heart of Hollywood). How has that been progressing?
Beautifully! We've just received the applications from prospective tenants, and it looks like we'll have move-ins starting in just a few months. The fundraising is ongoing.

Last time we talked, you mentioned you would love to see LATW produce your The Ice-Breaker. What's the status on that?
It's unlikely; the science in the play is dated now. As I mentioned above, none of the climatologists I consulted while writing the play would have thought that could happen.

Photos: First Look at Peppermint, Daya Curley, Sarah Stiles & More in A TRANSPARENT MUSICAL at Center Theater GroupWhat's next on David Rambo's plate?
A couple super-secret TV projects that I'm not free to announce yet. Soon! Check in at davidrambo.com or follow @Rambopolitan on Instagram. I'm also writing an original musical with rock star and theatre composer Berton Averre of The Knack.

Thank you again, David! I look forward to hearing your Henry Jekyll.
I'll see you there.

For tickets to one of the four live performances of Henry Jekyll (recorded live for future radio broadcast, digital download and online streaming) April 14th through 16th, click on the button below:




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