BWW Previews: ON THE TOWN at Capital City Theatre
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Capital City Theatre's Artistic Director, Andrew Abrams. Now, while the reason for our get together is inconsequential, what developed for that get together is of much consequence. At some point, we began talking about theater, as theater people are want to do, when the discussion turned to shows that we love and shows that we hate. (He loves Miss Saigon by the way, and I do not), from that discussion came my opinion of On The Town, which Capital City Theatre is putting up from May 30-June 2.
I find this show, especially Baraboo High School's production of it (The last one I saw) to be misogynistic and filled with toxic masculine stereotypes. I simply HAD to know why my friend had chosen this piece, for I know Andrew to be neither a misogynist, nor is he a toxic male stereotype, and his taste is impeccable. He spoke at length of not only his vision for the show, but also that of director Josh Walden, and asked that I come in and preview the show and talk with some of the cast. I agreed and am I ever happy that I did. It was amazing to watch and eye opening to talk with some of the performers and the director himself.
I was invited to the Madison Ballet rehearsal space, to see a bit of the rehearsal process and to speak with some of the cast members. Mirrors aligned the space, so watching the dancers from all angles was truly awe inspiring. The tightness of the choreography was incredible and the vocals majestic. The environment itself was much more joyous and laid back than I would have ever anticipated, smiles and laughter were everywhere. This was after a long day and only a week and a half of rehearsing. These people are great, I thought.
It wasn't long before the director told everyone to take five, literally, he said, "All right everyone, take five" This was my window, Andrew grabbed the director, and asked him if he had a couple of minutes to talk with me. Josh was happy to oblige.
I found out that he had choreographed the piece about 19 years ago and was very excited to change it up. His goal is to show the empowerment of women within the piece, and in keeping to his feminist nature, believes that he has done that very thing. He spoke at some length to how the women in the show change the men in the show for the better and how he was able to capitalize on that through tone and emotion. He further spoke about getting away from the stalkerish feeling that the males give off in the original version utilizing the same techniques. Josh left me with this nugget, "It was right after the war and people were looking for a reason to just forget, they would laugh at anything. Now we want substance, and I am trying to blend the two worlds together.
I also had the chance to talk with a few of the actors, all of whom echoed what Josh had to say.
2018 Broadway World Award Winner, Abby Nichols, who plays Claire, talked about bringing an old classic into the 21st century by getting rid of some of the male and female stereotypes.
Eddie Gutierrez who plays Gabey, expressed that it's not the same old show, while parts are very big and vaudevillian, there are a lot of areas that are small, quiet, serious and filled with emotion.
I even spoke with the costume designer, Karen Brown-Larimore, ("No one ever speaks with the costume designer", she said wistfully) who talked about keeping costumes period, yet movable for the dancers, and how much she enjoyed collaborating with the director.
Lastly, I spoke with Joshua Keneth Allen Johnson ("Yes, it's a mouthful" he told me, wryly) who had one of the most prolific statements about the company itself. "Capital City Theatre is truly Broadway quality, you don't want to miss out, you'll want to be part of its coming up"
I agree! Having seen every production since 2017, I think they do a fantastic job at everything they do! (You can find those reviews on this site if you think I'm kidding) Everyone I spoke with was very vested in creating a great product for Capital City Theatre.
So, in conclusion, do yourself a favor and spend a night On the Town with Capital City Theatre. Hell, I know I will, and I had to rearrange my entire weekend which involves travel plans just to do that very thing.
In celebration of Leonard Bernstein's 100th Anniversary this year, CCT will be doing his musical, On the Town, in collaboration with the Madison Ballet the weekend of May 30-June 2 at the Overture Center. The cast includes local performers along with Broadway, Chicago and Milwaukee talent. (Cast info is at https://capitalcitytheatre.org/onthetown-cast)
Book and lyrics are by Comden and Green, the same team that gave us, "Singin' in the Rain." On the Town was originally produced in 1944 with a revival a few years ago on Broadway. The 1949 movie version starred Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra about Three Sailors during wartime on a 24-hour leave in NYC. It's full of great tunes and a lot of dancing. Musical director, Andrew Abrams, will conduct a full 25-piece pit orchestra. If you're a fan of the old 1940's musicals, this is one to see!