BWW Interview: Director George Seylaz of THE DIVINE SISTER at Nutley Little Theatre

BWW Interview: Director George Seylaz of THE DIVINE SISTER at Nutley Little Theatre

Grab your rosaries, it's swinging '60s Pittsburgh and the Sisters of St. Veronica's are dying to meet you. The Divine Sister is a hilarious homage to all your favorite films with nuns. Written by Charles Busch, it marks the first production of 2019 for Nutley Little Theatre (NLT).

The outrageous comedy is directed by George Seylaz of Belleville and features the talents of Debra Carozza of Wyckoff, Patrick Horan of East Orange, Kristie McClain of Verona, Nick Pascarella of Hohokus, Gina Sarno of Nutley, and Judy Wilson of Fort Lee. This show contains some adult language and situations.

George is pleased to be making his NLT debut with this production of The Divine Sister. Most recently he stage managed Enchanted April at The Summit Playhouse and directed a staged reading of Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls for The Chatham Community Players. Other favorite credits include: Director-Psycho Beach Party (The Theatre Company), One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest (The Attic Ensemble) and Blithe Spirit (The Attic Ensemble). interviewed Director, George Seylaz about his career and The Divine Sister.

What is your earliest memory of seeing live theatre?

Earliest theatre memory - would have to be seeing Annie when I in the 8th grade. I don't recall seeing anything else until the early 90s and I went by myself to see Kathleen Turner in Cat On a Hot Tin Roof.

What first interested you in becoming a director?

When I was in college, I went to Kean University, I knew I didn't have much interest in being ON stage - I was much more comfortable backstage so I started stage managing - and I really liked watching a show get put together. I knew I wanted to have a greater say in how they got put together.

Tell me a little about someone who inspired your career?

The person that comes to mind would be my college mentor, Dr. James (Jim) Murphy he was the theatre department chair when I was at Kean University and a big influence on many of his students. In regards to directing - I recall him giving an actor a note once about the devil being in the details. Jim's attention to details is something I've carried in my directing. Layers of details in both performances and sets are what breathe of life for any show as far as I'm concerned.

We'd love to know about the cast/creative team for The Divine Sister.

My cast are six of the hardest working, most giving actors I've yet worked with in community theatre! I didn't know any of them before this show and the acting style required for it, is challenging. You need to always come from a truthful place, while evoking that dramatic old Hollywood style combined with broad campy comedy. Not something everyone is familiar with, yet that plunged in gamely and I'm very proud of them. My stage managers, Helen Exel and Andrea Young are my emotional support system as well as keeping the show running behind the scenes. I would be lost without them.

What makes Nutley Little Theatre unique in the area?

It's sort of in the name, Nutley LITTLE Theatre, its a cute little black box sort of space and only has 48 seats in what was once and a huge old barn. The theatre was started back in the early 1930s. I think the fact that they were willing to take a chance on this zany, somewhat off color downtown comedy says a lot about them.

What would you like New Jersey audiences about the show?

Charles Busch is a theatre legend. I've been fortunate to see some of his shows and have been a long time admirer. He stirs his deep love for Old Hollywood and his encyclopedic knowledge of those films into these delicious comedic cocktails. He often creates, as with The Divine SIster, a sort of mashup; taking bits of pieces of nearly every movie involving nuns and then puts his own spin on it. The result is something familiar, yet new.

For of the all of the stress we can often find in our daily lives, for all of our concern over the political climate there is one thing that can lighten the load; laughter! And this script gives you laughs and them some! Laughter won't fix your problems, but if you can learn to see the humor in even your hardest days - it can certainly help make it a little easier. Laugh at the absurd, Laugh at the "offensive". Laugh and your heart is lighter.

Can you share any of your future plans?

IMMEDIATELY after this I am directing a play called The Home Of The Great Pecan by Stephen Bittrich for The Chester Theatre Group in Chester NJ. Think 39 Steps meets Invasion of The Body Snatchers! It runs April 26-May12

Opening night for The Divine Sister is Feb. 8th and will benefit the Essex County LGBT Rain Foundation. Evening performances start at 8 pm and will be held on Feb. 8, 9, 15, 16, 21, 22, and 23; matinees begin at 2 pm and will be held on Feb. 10, 17, and 23. Patrons can order tickets through SmartTix by calling 212. 868.4444, or online through the NLT web site at (click on the "Click for Tix" icon). Nutley Little Theatre stages its productions at the NLT Barn, 47 Erie Place, Nutley, located off Brookfield Avenue (one block east of Franklin Avenue) in the heart of the Erie Place Historic District.

Photo Credit: Kate Albright

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