BWW Interviews: Garth Kravits Talks about Bucks County Playhouse's MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS: A RADIO PLAY
This year the holiday show at Bucks County Playhouse is MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS: A RADIO PLAY. They are keeping with the tradition of performing a holiday themed radio play where the audience plays the part of a live studio audience of the radio show. MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS: A RADIO PLAY is based on the 1944 movie-musical of the same name that starred Judy Garland and Margaret O'Brien. We had a chance to speak with one of the actors in the show at Bucks County Playhouse, Garth Kravits, about the musical, growing up in a theatre family and the importance of the arts to the community.
Kelli Curtin: Tell me about Meet Me in St. Louis: A Radio Play. What can audiences expect?
Garth Kravits: MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS: A RADIO PLAY is based on the movie from the 1940s. It is a light and fun family story, as well as a sweet love story. The story takes place in 1904 during the St. Louis World's Fair. There is also a subplot about the family moving from St. Louis to New York City. The show is a sweet story which contains many well-known songs such as "Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis," "The Trolley Song" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."
The version we are doing at the Bucks County Playhouse is the first time MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS is ever being done in this format. Joe Landry who adapted last year's Holiday show, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A RADIO PLAY, also adapted MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS from the book by Hugh Wheeler. The audience can expect to see actors playing roles in a radio play. MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS: A RADIO PLAY takes place at the WBUX radio station where we are performing the show in front of a live studio audience. The radio play transforms in front of the audience, and this year the show will contain huge musical numbers.
Kelli Curtin: Could you tell me about the role you are playing?
Garth Kravits: I play Butch Popkin who is the sound guy. The thought of being responsible for all the sound effects at first was terrifying. Now, I find it challenging and exciting to be this involved in a show. The sound effects help create the magic that transforms moments throughout the show, and we are using sound effects that would have been used in the 1940s.
Kelli Curtin: Why do you think Meet Me in St. Louis is considered a Christmas classic?
Garth Kravits: There are two reasons for this. First, there is a big moment of the show that takes place on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. This is a special moment in the show. Secondly, MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS: A RADIO PLAY is about family. The story centers around one family, and it is a feel good story that is popular at this time of year.
Kelli Curtin: What gives you the most fulfillment as an actor?
Garth Kravits: Working, that is always good. I have been very fortunate to be part of a lot of original material. To be able to be in a creative process using acting, singing and improvisation, in addition to using a creative mind to help shape a show is of great value to an actor. When I work on original works, the process is collaborative and that is rewarding.
Kelli Curtin: Who are your biggest influences in your career?
Garth Kravits: One of my biggest influences while growing up was Joel Grey. It is not only because we are similar in stature (if there are roles for him, I knew there were roles for me), but he is always so committed in everything he does. Every character that he portrayed was expressive. I loved watching him. In modern day, Casey Nicholaw, who directed and choreographed THE DROWSY CHAPERONE. It was amazing watching him as well as members of the cast of THE DROWSY CHAPERONE such as Sutton Foster, Beth Leavel, Danny Burstein perform. It was a great influence on me being in a cast with such remarkable talent.
Kelli Curtin: Why do you think theatre is important to the community in Bucks County?
Garth Kravits: Bucks County is such a diverse community (I have family here as well) that has such great appreciation of the arts. When I say arts I mean not only theatre, but music, sculpting, antiques, etc. In addition, the Bucks County Playhouse has a rich tradition of great theatre. When you walk into the theatre you witness a history of who's who. Grace Kelly, Robert Redford, Angela Lansbury all performed here. The playbills on the walls and in the dressing rooms all remind us how important this theatre is to theatre history. When the theatre was renovated recently, Jed's [Bernstein] vision was to have The Playhouse be as important as it was to the theatre community in the 1930s and 40s.
Kelli Curtin: How did you get involved in acting? Did you always want to be a performer?
Garth Kravits: I grew up in community theatre, my family was always involved in some capacity. I grew up in the theatre world. I always wanted to be a performer. I was immersed in the culture as a child, and there was nothing else I wanted to do as much. There is a quote that says something like "If you can live every day without acting then you shouldn't be doing it, but if you find that nothing you do is as satisfying as performing then you should pursue it." I feel very fortunate that I am able to work as an actor.
MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS: A RADIO PLAY runs at the Bucks County Playhouse through December 29, 2013. For more information and tickets visit their website at www.bcptheater.org or call their box office at (215) 862-2121.
Photos courtesy of Bucks County Playhouse