The first thing I felt when I was asked to direct this show was, in all honesty, nerves. This was a big step up from my previous directorial experience. I was eagerly anticipating the challenge but had worries that I would not live up to the excellent standards in the Springfield arts community. However, the High Tide Theatrical team quickly rallied around me (special thanks to Marty Chaney who essentially told me to, “Cut that out and believe in yourself like we all do!”) and told me that they thought I was the right person for the job. So, I decided to just jump in, and ended up on a journey that has been the most incredibly fulfilling part of my theatre career so far.  

So, how did I, someone directing their very first musical, prepare?  

I read the script. Then I read it again. And again. Repeat that probably a dozen or so more times. I wanted to know this show from the inside out before I started developing what we in the ‘biz’ call a Concept. The fun part about directing a show is that you get to look for what the show is trying to say and figure out how to translate that in a digestible way for the audience. How much do we challenge them? How much do we say, “Do you get it?”. What do we, as the storytellers, want to deliver? At the end of the day, this show is about not taking life for granted. I tried to keep this real, raw, and relatable message alive in the staging and direction for this show as much as possible.  

I wanted the audience to feel like they were a part of the conversation – as if they were part of Jon’s journey as he brings his story to life. The production has very few bells and whistles, and the authenticity of the music, lyrics, and story really allow you to let it be simple and down to earth. I decided that all we needed for this show was a piano, three stools, and three milk crates filled with very basic props. This simplicity truly allows for the focus to be on the talent of the performers, and for a story to be brought to life as if it were being written as the show goes on.  

Casting this show was an absolute dream. We are very lucky that here in Springfield, there is an abundance of talent right at our fingertips. There are so many gifted, passionate, and dedicated performers that came out to audition, and we had tough choices to make when it came time to build our cast. We ended up with a group of four actors who are some of the most intelligent and talented people that I have ever had the privilege to work with. This makes my job as a director approximately one million times easier.  

Tyler, Gabby, Roland, and Teghan have all been such a joy to work with. As a director, I try hard not to have my presence up on stage with the actors. I want their characters to fill up the space and make their movements and reactions seem authentic. These actors made that goal so easy. They moved through this story with open minds, hearts on their sleeves, and an undeniably epic work ethic. The show was blocked in just three and a half rehearsals, and we have been able to fine tune the run since then. I cannot thank them enough for the effort and care they put into bringing this show to life with me. 

When it comes to keeping all of the plates spinning, the team I have been working with has really made all the difference. Our Music Director, Kathryn Cole, and my Stage Manager, Michelle Scott, have been indispensable during this process. Moving quickly was essential, and these ladies kept my head on straight and our ducks in a row. I can assure you that not even half of our blocking would have been written down if Michelle wasn’t sitting in on rehearsals each night as I ran around the stage showing the actors exactly what I meant by, “Then move over here and do this sort of thing”. And I cannot even DREAM of teaching the killer harmonies and musical numbers to our extremely talented team as quickly and patiently as Kathryn has. Not to mention all of the work she has put in on getting us a live band to make this production truly come to life. Ultimately, my work in comparison to the amount of effort put in by these two, feels like a molehill next to a mountain. I am incredibly grateful. 

I can’t wait to see what you all think of this production that I have come to know and love. The incredible talent on the stage that you will soon get to witness is a result of the hard work and perseverance of a group of actors who soared above my expectations, and breathed life into this show on their very first rehearsal. It comes from a team of people who believed in me before I really believed in myself. It comes from two women who are working their booties off, and a band that was willing to take on a challenge. It comes from a drive to tell stories that mean something. I do hope that you will all come out to witness and enjoy the end result of all of those combined efforts. Thanks for reading, I’ll see you when it’s time for my curtain speech!

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