We've had a couple of interviews with the cast of the musical Crazy for You (about which I've heard rave reviews), and we'll have more in the days ahead - but now, let's hear from the director of the show, Stephen Vance!
He's a triple threat - not only is he a fine director and a talented actor - he's also one of the most knowledgable tech guys around!
Q: For those not familiar with the show, tell us about Crazy for You.
Stephen: Crazy for You is the story of a young banker who want to be in a Broadway show. Everyone else has different plans for him. He ends up in Nevada to foreclose on an old theatre, but immediately falls in love and decides the best way to save the theatre is to put on a show. Showgirls, cowboys, mix-ups, and mayhem ensues all wrapped around the Gershwin's greatest tunes.
Q: Tell us about your work on the musical.
Stephen: I've had the privilege to be the director of the show. I'm genuinely flattered that so many talented and hard working people have committed to this project. It really is a dream come true. This is a dance show, and not nearly enough can be said about the work Coni Anthony has done, she has indulged me over and over, and her creativity and ability to tell a story beautifully and so full of life is second to none. John Campbell has done the same thing on the music side of things. He has an infectious enthusiasm and a tremendous grasp of how to get the best out of singers. It is still mind boggling that I've been able to be a part of this team. I'm grateful.
Q: I understand this show required a lot of rehearsal.
Stephen: We started up during "Much Ado" back in August. From the beginning, we knew we were getting into something that was bigger and more elaborate than normal. The first six weeks were nothing but music and dance rehearsals. The amazing thing about this cast is that no matter the challenge, they rose to it every time. By the end of the process, each cast member had spent well over 100 hours in rehearsal. However, it wasn't just the rehearsals that they poured themselves into. There were at least five weekends of work calls prior to tech week that everyone was part of in some capacity, whether it was costume building, set construction, scene painting, or some other crazy task we had to accomplish. We only have a handful of dedicated technicians for this show. The efforts of the crew and the cast have been outstanding and above and beyond the norm.
Q: What's your favorite song in the show?
Stephen: Every song in this show is special to me. I don't say that lightly. The arrangements of the music are designed in such a way to feature someone and something unique in every single number. Each has required a special focus both technically and from a performance standpoint. I could write paragraphs about every single number. The work that went into each, and the joy they all bring me is immeasurable. My goal starting this project was to feature all 21 cast members at least once each, and I think we pulled that off successfully.
Q: What's your background in theatre?
Stephen: I started with Helen Freeman during Footloose in 2004 sweeping the straw off the backstage sidewalk. From there, I worked tech for a couple of shows, and eventually ended up in the chorus of Thoroughly Modern Millie in 2006. I've since been on stage and volunteered with HHS, First Church Dinner Theatre, First Stage, and Fifth Avenue. As ARTS has grown over the last few years, I found myself right in the middle of it, on stage and off. In 2009, I was given the opportunity to direct I Ought to Be in Pictures. Crazy for You is the fifth show I've directed and certainly the most ambitious. I can't overstate how grateful I am to work with ARTS, the board, the production team, the crew, and cast for this show.
Q: If one of our readers is thinking about trying out for a show, what advice would you give them?
Stephen: Realize that it is going to be a lot of work. A lot. However, not one day goes by that you don't realize it is worth it.
Q: Why would you recommend this show?
Stephen: I love it. It is as much fun as I have seen on stage ever. I love standing in the back of the house and watching people walk out with a smile on their face. It is that kind of show. Wonderful music, terrific choreography, a hilarious book. Mike and Jocelyn are dreams as leads. Mike, Joanna, and Dylan hit on every comedic and performance cylinder every night. Todd and Karen are like glue in their character roles. Amy, Tiffany, Sheila, Cyndi, Nora, and Jenn are stunning in every costume, every scene, every dance, and every vocal performance. Marc, Bill, Luke, Jason, Tristan, and Andrew add so much life and texture every single time they are on stage. Bil and Becky are perfect in their cameo roles. (I've fought the urge to go into great detail about everything I love about everyone in this show.) If you can't tell, I love this show and I really want everyone to get a chance to see it.
The musical Crazy for You will be staged at the Renaissance Theatre at 900 8th Street on Friday, Oct. 31 and Saturday, Nov. 1 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 2 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 (dinner tickets are sold out).