BWW Interview: Rick Sordelet and HOLIDAY JUBILEE at Crossroads Theatre

Crossroads Theatre Company presents the sixth annual "Holiday Jubilee," an original musical celebration of the season. This year, it will feature the sounds of soaring gospel music along with traditional favorites through December 20th.

Holiday Jubilee is a recurring holiday show with a changing storyline that was conceived by Crossroads Theatre's Producing Artistic Director, Marshall Jones III. Rick Sordelet, the prolific and award-winning Broadway fight director, returns to direct "Holiday Jubilee" for the sixth straight year. This year, the cast's powerful voices will bring the joyous sounds of gospel music to audiences, and as always, the show will feature its popular audience-participation number. Broadwayworld.com interviewed Rick Sordelet about his career and Holiday Jubilee.

Sordelet brings an impressive background to the Crossroad's Theatre. His projects have included Walt Disney's Beauty and The Beast on Broadway, the National Tour and international performances. He was the Action Movement Coordinator for the Broadway musical Titanic, directed by Richard Jones. Other projects include, Once Upon a Mattress, starring Sarah Jessica Parker and directed by Gerald Gutierrez andThe Scarlet Pimpernel, directed by Peter Hunt. He has been the Fight Director for Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye and for the Superbowl XXIX halftime show starring Tony Bennett and Patti LaBelle. He is the author of the play Buried Treasure, which was produced at the George Street Playhouse second stage to tremendous critical acclaim, and named as one of the best plays of the 1996 season. Rick is married to actress Kathleen Kelly with three beautiful children, Kaelan, Christian, and Collin.

What were your earliest interests in theatre?

MY FIRST MEMORY OF PERFORMING WAS WHEN I WAS FOUR. I TRULY THOUGHT I WAS MAGICAL AND COULD MAKE MARBLES DISAPPEAR. LITTLE DID I KNOW MY BEAUTIFUL "ASSISSTANT", MY OLDER SISTER KERRI, WAS ACTUALLY REMOVING THE MARBLE WITHOUT ME KNOWING IT. MY AUDIENCE WOULD WATCH HER DO IT AND LAUGH LIKE CRAZY WHEN THE SAW MY REACTION. I THOUGHT I WAS A MAGICIAN. THIS WAS TO BECOME A METAPHORIC PROPHESY FOR MY LIFE IN SHOW BUSINESS.

Who have been some of your significant mentors?

JOHN MUNSELL AND AL KATZ FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-SUPERIOR. BILL ESPER AT RUTGERS. THEY TAUGHT ME THE CRAFT AND THE LOVE OF PLAYING.

I ALSO LOVE READING THE AUTHOR JOSEPH CAMPBELL. HIS ABILITY TO REVEL MANKIND'S NEED TO TELL STORIES HELPS ME TO TAP INTO THE UNIVERSAL LOVE OUR SPECIES HAS FOR COMMONALITY.

Do you have performers/performances that you find inspiring?

I AM ALWAYS ATTRACTED TO THOSE IN SHOW BUSINESS THAT STILL APPROACH THE CRAFT WITH A CHILDLIKE WONDER AND RESPECT FOR THEIR COLLABORATORS. THERE ARE SO MANY THAT STILL DO THAT I'VE HAD THE GOOD FORTUNE TO WORK WITH.

Tell me a little about working with your son.

CHRISTIAN IS 27 YEARS OLD. HE IS A FAR BETTER FIGHT DIRECTOR THAN I EVER WAS AT HIS AGE. IN FACT, I THINK HE HAS SURPASSED ANYTHING I COULD POSSIBLY TEACH HIM NOW. HE IS A BEAUTIFUL HUMAN BEING AND A BRILLIANT PARTNER. NOT A DAY GOES BY THAT I DON'T SAY MY THANKS FOR WORKING WITH MY SON.

Tell me a little about your publishing company, Sordelet Ink and what's ahead for it?

DAVID BLIXT AND I ARE CONDUCTING A WRITING COMPETITION FOR THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-SUPERIOR. WE ARE LOOKING FOR THOSE WRITERS WHO NORMALLY NEVER GET A SHOT TO HAVE THEIR WORK READ. PLEASE CHECK OUT WWW.SORDELETINK.COM FOR MORE DETAILS.

How does your teaching compliment your career?

I'VE BEEN TEACHING AT YALE FOR THE LAST 17 YEARS. THE WORK IS DEEPLY REWARDING. IT IS ALWAYS A PLEASURE TO WATCH OUR STUDENTS GROW FROM DAY ONE TO WHEN WE MEET THEM IN THE PROFESSIONAL WORLD. SOON CHRISTIAN AND I WILL BE WORKING WITH LUPIDA NYONG'O AGAIN ON BROADWAY ON THE PLAY ECLIPSED.

Why do you think that Crossroad's holiday production has become such a treasured theatrical event?

MOSTLY BECAUSE WE CAPTURED THE SPIRIT OUR WONDERFUL PRODUCER, MARSHALL JONES III, MANDATED SIX YEARS AGO. MARSHALL ASKED FOR A SHOW THAT WOULD HONOR THE MAJOR RELIGIONS OF OUR STATE, DELIVER A MESSAGE OF LOVE, JOY AND FELLOWSHIP. DO SO WITH MUSIC. HAVE A DIFFERENT STORY LINE WITH FAMILIAR EVENTS AND NEVER LET OUR AUDIENCE MIRE IN THE CHEESY COMMERCIALISM SO PREVALENT IN TODAY'S HOLIDAY PROGRAMING.

Tell us about some of your future projects.

MY WRITING PARTNER, DAN STUDNEY, ANOTHER JERSEY GUY FROM DREW UNIVERSITY, AND I HAVE WRITTEN A SCREENPLAY BASED ON THE JULES VERN NOVEL OF 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA TO BE DIRECTED BY GENIUS FILM DIRECTOR BRYAN SINGER. ALSO A COLLABORATION OF CYRANO DE BERGERAC WITH GABE BARRIE AND ALEXANDER SOVRONSKY TO OPEN AT ST. CLEMENTS IN NYC THIS FEBRUARY.

Holiday Jubilee is being presented at 7 p.m., Dec. 11, 17, 18; 8 p.m., Dec. 12 and 19; and 3 p.m., Dec. 12, 13, 19, 20. Tickets: $30; $5 for students; children under 12 are free with adult admission. Purchase online at crossroadstheatrecompany.org or call (732) 545-8100. Crossroads Theatre Company is located at 7 Livingston Ave. in heart of the city's vibrant arts and restaurant district.

Photo Image: Courtesy of Rick Sordelet



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