Glam Arts reviewer Fran Edwards talks to the Director of Northern Light Theatre Company’s upcoming production of Seussical!
F.E. What appealed to you about Seussical!?
S.T. Seussical is one of the purest expressions of what a musical should be. More than a story with musical numbers interspersed, it is a story told through music, where every song is either advancing the plot or expressing an emotion in a way that couldn’t be done with mere words. The music is loud and brassy and fun, and the stories—provided by Dr Seuss himself—are full of endearing characters and relatable situations. I have loved Seussical since I encountered it and it’s been an absolute joy to share the show just with the cast members who were unfamiliar with it, so I’m really looking forward to sharing it with audiences!
F.E. How do you feel about directing?
S.T. As a first-time director, it’s been a thrill to be able to bring my vision to life—but I’m also a big believer in staying as true to the source material as possible, and I couldn’t have asked for better source material. I sort of feel like I’ve gotten off easy, because Seussical is such a flexible show in terms of staging, and the Shedley Theatre is large and technically capable, so I’ve been able to achieve pretty much everything I wanted. I’ve also been well supported by Northern Light Theatre Company: I’ve done many shows with NLTC over the years and that has helped me grow as a performer and, now, director.
F.E. Do you feel you have a good team behind you?
S.T. Yes! Directors get a lot of credit but there’s always a multitude of people working behind the scenes to bring everything together. Part of directing is learning to delegate, and that has been especially easy with this show because I already knew and trusted the large majority of the people working on this production. The two other members of the creative team—Bec Mason our Musical Director, and Rose Vallen our Choreographer—have also done a huge amount of work and I have absolutely depended on them. The show really is based on a shared vision between the three of us and the collaborative nature of this production has been one of the highlights.
F.E. Have rehearsals been all that you hoped?
S.T. The community-building aspect of musical theatre (i.e., turning up to three rehearsals a week for months!) is, for me, one of the best things about being involved in any show. It’s not just about seeing your friends—it’s incredibly satisfying to work as a team to produce something amazing that depends on everyone playing their part. Officially stepping into a leadership role for the Seussical family has been a rewarding experience and I’m so proud of what the whole team has achieved. Seussical has a significant number of main characters across two semi-independent storylines and a large ensemble that has a lot to do, so it’s been especially fun to work with the whole cast to create a cohesive show that stays true to the original intent.
F.E. How do you feel your previous experience has prepared you for this production?
S.T. I’ve been involved in amateur musical theatre for the last 12 years, primarily through NLTC, and have worked with a number of different directors in that time, all of whom I have learnt from. In fact, two of them are supporting me directly in this production: Sue Pole, as President of NLTC, and Andrew Hawkins, who’s playing Mr Mayor! NLTC (and Sue Pole) also gave me the opportunity to learn the ropes as Assistant Director for White Christmas in 2014, which was invaluable.
Seussical opens at the Shedley Theatre Elizabeth on Friday 12th October with performances on 13th, 19th & 20th at 8pm and 13th & 20th at 2pm. To book go on line via http://www.northernlight.org.au/.
Interview by Fran Edwards