BWW Interviews: Andrew Abrams on Bringing GYPSY to Madison
Capital City Theatre (CCT) is presenting GYPSY this week at the Overture Center featuring a stellar cast from Broadway, Chicago and Madison. In its sophomore year, CCT has proven its chops with last year's stunning production of VIOLET. I had the opportunity to sit down with Artistic Director and one of the founding members, Andrew Abrams to talk GYPSY, CCT, & more.
When asked why CCT chose GYPSY, Abrams explained that they wanted to do a musical from the golden age showcasing a full orchestra and a large cast. GYPSY is a classic old-fashioned musical with name recognition and broad appeal. "Let's put on a fun, awesome show so people smile, cry, laugh, and leave changed in even the smallest way."
GYPSY will be a semi-staged concert version of the show with the orchestra on stage along with the actors, adding another layer of entertainment to the experience. Abrams is excited to work with the twenty-five professional musicians in what he calls the most famous, perfectly written overture in musical theatre. The score is one hit after another.
When asked about the cast, Abrams proudly shared that the first auditions took place in Madison, as there is a growing pool of professional talent here. Liz Griffith, a Madison native whose resume includes New York City, London and beyond, was cast in the title role of Louise. The casting search continued in Chicago and New York where Broadway veteran, the exceptional Michele Ragusa, was cast as Mama Rose. The cast is filled out with a long list of impressive artists.
Abrams is not new to theatre scene. He's carved his own niche working with numerous theatre companies over the years, most notably for me was the fantastic 2006 Four Seasons Theatre student production of LES MISERABLES, which he directed. In addition, he has garnered great success with the coming-of-age comedy musical BUT I'M A CHEERLEADER, in which he wrote the music. Well reviewed by the New York Times when it headlined at the 2005 New York Musical Theatre Festival, it received a reading in London in 2013 directed by Jerry Mitchell, the Tony Award-winning director of "Kinky Boots." BUT I'M A CHEERLEADER is currently in negotiations for the next step.
One thing I've learned from watching Abrams' career, is that he surrounds himself with top-notch talent. To direct GYPSY, CCT brought in Broadway director Jeff Whiting, and choreographing this iconic show is W. Earle Smith, Artistic Director for the Madison Ballet.
When asked about the future plans for Capital City Theatre, Abrams explained that Education is a huge piece of CCT. Next year the theatre company plans to hold a Young Musical Theatre Writers Competition, which will be critiqued by musical theatre professionals. The winning entries will be performed in concert. There are also plans to expand the season with a Spring musical and something in early Fall as well.
Andrew Abrams holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the UW-Madison, and a Master of Arts in Musical Theatre from University of London-Goldsmiths. He is also a graduate of the advanced year of the BMI Musical Theatre Writing Workshop in New York City. Abrams owns the AAbrams studio, teaches private vocal and acting lessons, and instructs classes at the New York Film Academy and Hostra University where he served as musical director and conductor for a recent production of Fiddler on the Roof.
GYPSY will be performed in the Capital Theatre at the Overture Center June 17 at 7:30 pm, and June 18 at 1 pm & 7 pm. For tickets and more information on GYPSY and it's talented cast, go to www.capitalcitytheatre.org, www.overture.com, or call (608)258-4141.
Photo: Michele Ragusa in GYPSY.