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Interview: George Seylaz directs Andy Reynolds' DOCTOR SMARTY IN THE NEW NORMAL for Nutley Little Theatre's Virtual Readers' Theatre Program. 


Interview: George Seylaz directs Andy Reynolds' DOCTOR SMARTY IN THE NEW NORMAL for Nutley Little Theatre's Virtual Readers' Theatre Program. 

Editor's Note: We thank Gina Sarno for writing this interview. Gina also stars in Dr. Smarty in The New Normal. New Jersey spoke to George Seylaz, the Director of Nutley Little Theatre's next Virtual Readers Theatre: "Doctor Smarty in The New Normal" by Andy Reynolds, which will be presented on April 15th at 8:00 PM.

In the midst of COVID-19, 82-year-old Henry is diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Referred by his doctor for nutrition education, Henry reluctantly starts weekly Zoom sessions with 32-year-old nutritionist Sonia. Over a few short weeks the pair rediscovers that we shouldn't always judge a book by its cover. A wry, comic look at a very unfunny time. The cast includes Jim Clancy of Basking Ridge as Henry and Gina Sarno of Nutley as Sonia.

Tell us about yourself.

High in a tower I sit by the hour.....hahaha... Well that's what quarantine has felt like hasn't it?

Tell you about myself... I'm a 53 year old, single, white gay male. I have a passion for theatre, gardening and sitting on the beach listening to the waves. I also enjoy making people laugh. We don't laugh nearly enough I don't think. We worry too much. I worry alot too, I worry that I'm not laughing enough. I'm also a big geeky nerd, who enjoys reading fantasy novels, Disney villains and have two black cats, Coal and Ashley who let me live with them.

We'd like to know about your involvement in theater.

I hold a B.A. in theatre from Kean University - and have been involved with theatre in some capacity, about 30 years give or take. Strictly the technical or "backstage" stuff is my area of expertise. I have stage managed too many shows to easily count, but find my true passion lies in directing a piece, opening myself up to interpreting the work through my imagination and working with others to bring that interpretation to an audience.

What inspired you to direct this piece?

I found the opening moments of the play to be VERY funny and true to lifeWhich is what makes any piece really relatable. As playwright, Andy Reynolds explained to me it was drawn from his own personal experience involved with an online playwright group. As I got into the script over time, I found it to be charming and funny with some deeper moments about listening and hearing. No they are not the same thing, similar, but not the same.

What has it been like for you to direct virtually?

In the beginning, it felt restrictive and cold and not at all LIKE directing. All of us being in our own separate spaces and only communicating thru monitors...very Jetsons actually. But I took an online course, taught by a director who had an entire production of Orwell's 1984 all ready to go and then lockdown happened and he had to pivot to doing it online or cancel the show. What the class boiled down to was other than not being physically in the same space and being able to touch, the limitations, just like in live theatre are really only our own imaginations...and the quality of your equipment. You can still get up and move, you can still do "off stage" voices etc... The key is NOT to let the actors JUST sit there, "Talk" with your hands (in frame). Make it as active as possible. It's still two dimensional of course - and the audience's perspective is limited to what we show, rather than them being able to look anywhere on the stage they choose. But we adapt. We are theatre people.

We'd love to know about the cast/creative team for Doctor Smarty.

It's a two character play - and in this version it's a 30 something woman and an 82 year old man. It was however, originally written for two men. I spoke with Andy, suggesting what if the young man was instead a young woman - because our goal moving forward at Nutley Little Theatre is to ACTUALLY be more inclusive and give more stage time to those who have been underrepresented or only shown in limited ways on stage. Before you say, women have always been on stage, ask yourself, how many of those roles were leads? How many of them we're secondary in some way to a male lead role? Men have had far more multifaceted roles created for them. So here we have Sonia instead of Peter played by Gina Sarno and Henry played by Jim Clancy - both veteran actors. Andy Reynolds, has written as I've said a rather charming , funny little piece. A very TRUE piece, about life during not just covid, but ABOUT life About people and how we all just really want is to be seen to be heard.. But too often the other person isn't really listening, they are just waiting for you to stop speaking so they can speak.

Follow Nutley Little Theatre on Facebook: @NutleyLittleTheatre and Instagram: @NutleyLittleTheatreNJ for updates.

The performance will be streamed on their Facebook page and YouTube Channel.

While NLT's virtual performances are free, donations are gratefully accepted through PayPal at, GoFundMe at, and Venmo at @nutleylittletheatre or by mailing a check to Nutley Little Theatre PO Box 131 Nutley, NJ 07110.

Photo credit : Kate Albright

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Gina M. Zenyuch has been enamored with theatre since before she can remember. Her love for theatre has driven her to experience almost every aspect of the theatrical world ranging from acting onstage,... (read more about this author)