BWW Interview: Rhett Guter-Director and Choreographer of TAKE ME AWAY at Hunterdon Hills Playhouse 3/20 to 4/30
Hunterdon Hills Playhouse will be staging an all-new, spring musical feature, Take Me Away directed and choreographed by Rhett Guter. The Playhouse offers a dinner theatre experience for matinee and evening performances.
Take Me Away transports audiences to the bustling city of London for a one of a kind, immersive dinner theatre experience. Upon arriving in our dining room, a host of lively street performers will greet guests and set the scene for the bustling streets of Covent Garden, London. When the stage show begins, the audience will be joined by world-famous sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, and his trusted mate, Dr. Watson, on a hilarious musical quest to solve one of his most baffling adventures... the mystery of love! A mind reader, mysterious countess, and magician are just a few of the suspects in this musical farce. Backed by a live orchestra, the talented actors will sing and dance throughout this laugh-filled, lively show, while audience members may find they hold the clues to solving the mystery right on their own dining room tables.
Broadwayworld had the pleasure of interviewing Rhett Guter about his career and Take Me Away.
Guter is a New York based director and choreographer. He has worked on a myriad of projects all over the country, from Shakespeare, to musical theatre, to new works. Some of his regional credits include Curly in "Oklahoma" at Goodspeed, Conrad Birdie in "Bye Bye Birdie" at Goodspeed, and Munkustrap in "Cats" at Paramount Theatre. He has also performed at the Utah Shakespeare Festival as well as the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. Rhett received his training at Southern Utah University in Dance Performance and Musical Theatre.
When did you first realize your passion for the theatre?
When I was about 12 years old, I started performing as a magician, which is when I fell in love with performing. Its wasn't until later when I attended Tuachan High School for the Performing Arts and I began training in acting and dancing that I realized my passion was in theatre and storytelling.
Tell us a little about your training at Southern Utah University.
What started with a declared major in Math and a minor in Theatre as a Freshman, turned into a double major in Theatre and Dance Performance. While at Southern Utah, as it is a small university, I had the opportunity to study a broad range of areas in theatre. From acting to dance, to choreography and directing, and even to a bit of costume design, I got a shot at it all. It was a very hands on, holistic experience.
Have you had any particular mentors?
Yes, I've been fortunate to have many along the way. One in particular is Peter Sham, who is now a dear friend and college from SUU. Peter has not only worked previously at the Hunterdon Hills Playhouse as an actor, but has gone on to become an educator and writer. In fact, his hit musical, "Lend Me a Tenor: The Musical," played on the West End in London. Peter is also the writer of "Take Me Away," and is responsible for my being here at the Playhouse. Having me in mind to direct "Take Me Away," he encouraged the current owner of HHP to head down to Maryland to see me in a show and meet me. They agreed and the rest, as they say, is history.
What advice to you have for others who are interested in the performing arts?
Many artists have a passion for what they do, but a successful career in the performing arts requires dedication, commitment and a whole lot of work. Sometimes its gonna feel like a rollercoaster. There are many highs, and they are wonderful experiences. There often lows though, and when those setbacks occur, you still have to be willing to log in long hours to perfect your art. In the end it's worth it, just gotta learn to enjoy the ride!
Tell us a little about your role in Take Me Away?
Acting as the director and choreographer for a brand new show, with a new concept, is both exciting and humbling. I'm working with all the departments at the Playhouse, from the set shop and the designers, to the office staff including the marketing and sales team. We are in constant collaboration on how best to bring Peter Sham's new play to life. It's all very thrilling.
How do you like working at HH Playhouse?
Dinner theatre is relatively new to me, but it is definitely growing on me. As far as the organization goes, they're all top shelf.
A little about the cast/creative of the show.
Well I can't discuss much of the cast as we are still waiting to lock offers in. However, I can say that Mari Green will be joining us as the Countess Maximova, a central charter of the show. If you've been to Hunterdon Hills Playhouse before, you'll likely remember her golden voice and powerhouse presence. As far as the creative goes, that's a team effort! I think nearly everyone at the Playhouse has had some part in the development of this show, as it is very much an "all hands on deck" project.
What would you like area audiences to know about this exciting new show?
We are not just creating a new show, but rather, an experience. From the moment the audience arrives at the Playhouse, they will be immersed in live theater. The scene is set in London, and street performers will be active in the theater before the show even begins. During the production, the action will extend beyond the main stage as the characters in the play not only will on occasion perform in different areas of the room, they also will be interacting with the patrons. It is a very lively, engaging show.
Can you share with us any future plans?
I hope that this collaboration will be only the beginning of my artistic relationship with HHP. The opportunity the theatre has to present new shows through an out of the box lens is nearly endless. While I can't say too much, I think the Playhouse is heading into a new chapter of it's history. One that will usher in many exciting new shows!
Hunterdon Hills Playhouse is located at 88 Route 173 West, Hampton, NJ 08827. For more information or ticketing, please call 1-800-447-7313 and 1-908-730-8007 or visit: https://www.hhplayhouse.com/. Ticket pricing includes show, table served meal, dessert buffet, coffee or hot tea, tax and gratuity. Prices are as follows: INDIVIDUALS: Monday thru Saturday - Lunch Matinee - 11:30 am - $72.50; Saturday Dinner - 6:30 pm - $82.50 / Sunday Dinner - 2:30 pm - $82.50; GROUPS (20 OR MORE): Monday thru Saturday - Lunch Matinee - 11:30 am - $66.00; Saturday Dinner - 6:30 pm - $76.00 / Sunday Dinner - 2:30 pm - $76.00.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Rhett Guter