Damascus Theatre Company Little WomenBy Laura & Mike Clark • Oct 2nd, 2009 • Category: Interviews
Damascus Theatre Company
Olney Theatre Center, Olney, MD
Through October 4th
$18/$15 Seniors and Students
Interviewed October 1st, 2009
Mike: This is Mike Clark with ShowBizRadio. Today I am talking with Kevin Kuchar who is the director of Damascus Theatre Company’s production of Little Women, The Musical. Thank you for talking with me, Kevin.
Kevin: Absolutely, my pleasure.
Mike: Can you tell us what Little Women, The Musical is about?
Kevin: Little Women, The Musical is based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott written in 1869, about a family of the March sisters in Concord, Massachusetts. It is a semi-autobiographical novel that is an American favorite. Most people know a little bit of something about it. A lot of people have read it. The musical follows along to the story line pretty closely to what the novel itself is. Obviously with the exception of the music. But that is what it is based on.
Mike: Is the musical version of the show still relevent to today? It takes place in 1860. Is that boring?
Kevin: Well, no. I mean a lot of people really find the story line very touching. The one thing I can say is if you’ve read the book and a lot of our audience members have read the book, everybody seems to have kind of an emotional connection to the story. A lot of people seemed to have read the book in their childhood. I myself have not read the book up until directing the project. It’s not as though the issues are necessarily relevant except for Jo the main character trying to find her place in the world and her path. Struggling with family and career and wanting to take a different path than what is the normal conception of what should be her path given her place and her gender.
It’s really interesting to watch the character play out that battle on stage. Like I said, people seem to have that connection with the material mostly because they have read it in their childhood and it’s kind of neat to see them look back at what they remember a memory from childhood and experience that all over again.
Mike: Is the show aimed at girls and women?
Kevin: It’s hard to say if it’s aimed at girls and women or girls and women are more likely to enjoy the show. Certainly the book itself or the material is something that I think little girls read more often than boys. But it’s a family fun piece, there’s a lot really humorous moments and a lot of really snippets kind of intertwined within the material that I think appeals to both groups, to both audiences.
There is some sword play so little guys might like that. But there is something for everybody. There is some humor wrapped in it. If you have read the material or anybody who has read the material there’s some sad elements to the piece that the music is really something that I think every one can get into. There is a full orchestra there at the Olney Theatre Center. Even though it is a black box production meaning it is in the smallest of their three houses, there is a full orchestra. The music is really exciting. There’s something that will appeal to everybody.
Mike: Tell me about the actresses who are playing the sisters in the family.
Kevin: The actresses who are playing the sisters come from all over the DC Metro area. A couple from Northern Virginia. Montgomery County. They come from all over the area. What’s interesting is that in terms of their age, they are all young performers that are cutting their teeth in the performing world. Some that have just recently graduated from college programs and are coming back into the community to start their professional lives.
Our lead performer Ellie Borzilleri is actually a high school senior who is playing Jo March. But they’re all really evenly matched. There’s great camaraderie. While they are at a different place in terms of cutting their teeth in the professional world, the camaraderie is great. The talent is really very strong. One of the strongest casts that I’ve had the honor to work with. They are really a fantastic group to work with.
Mike: My wife and I saw Little Women, I think it was up in Baltimore when it was on tour, and it was a set that was the house. It was like four levels. So when she was in the attic they actually moved her to the top of the theater. What kind of set do you have for the show since it is a black box?
Kevin: For our production we are using a unit set. Especially when you are working in this type of facility of a black box scenario using a unit set is the easiest, most efficient way to go. When I say unit or static set what I mean is the audience is coming into that house environment where we also have to cover different houses. They travel from the March parlor which is their family home and then later in the play they have to be in a couple different places. They have to be in a couple different residences.
So it’s interesting to have to stage it in a black box you really do have to make use of levels and lighting and color and texture and you have to find subtle, but distinct ways to make these worlds exist all at the same time in a static environment.
What’s really fun is that this production we’ve taken the opportunity to incorporate a revolving deck so that we can signify time or movement. It’s not an entire revolving, it’s not the whole floor, but it’s a portion of the set. That’s kind of the concept. You’re coming in as an audience member you’re coming in to a very warm and rustic feel that is a house that kind of incorporates the entire room. So it’s almost like sitting right there in that parlor living room with the family.
Mike: Well that’s exciting. I like the idea of the revolve. I can see how that can be useful.
Kevin: You know they are a lot of fun to use and as director I have always wanted to get to use a revolve. They are not that easy to build. It was a little bit of a struggle to get the technicians to get that technology down right, but it’s really exciting to see it incorporated in this production.
And also I don’t want to give away too much, but we have to do a beach scene where the girls are out at the Cape together. That was really exciting to incorporate. I’ll leave it at this. There is a surprise for the audience that involves sand.
Mike: Well that’s cool.
Kevin: Don’t worry it doesn’t get on anybody.
Mike: What other shows have you worked on either on stage or backstage?
Kevin: I’ve been really lucky. I’ve been in Montgomery County now for I think seven years. I’m a native of Wisconsin. I grew up in a really small town where there wasn’t a lot of theater. I came out her to work on specifically youth theater. And started a youth theater company called Act Two Performing Arts in Rockville. I have been spending most of my time directing with Act Two predominately youth focused productions.
I’ve done a lot of productions specifically at the Olney Theater Center with that company. Including Les Miz. We’ve done Blood Brothers which is a London West End favorite that’s been there for just decades. I’m coming up on 30, 35 productions in the greater DC area since I’ve been here. I’ve had the real privilege of working with the DC Actors Center. Damascus Theatre Company has been a real treat for me to work with. I also get to work with the Georgetown preparatory School and the Center For the Arts at Holton Arms.
Mike: So you are staying very busy.
Kevin: A lot of productions. I think right now this year I have ten productions on the list. It can be difficult to be creative, but I would not not want to sit round and think about it. I’m more of a get out there and do. I really enjoy, like I said I worked on Les Miz the school edition. I’ve done Rent, School Edition which was a real treat. The Laramie Project I’ve now done a couple of times. I’ve done it once at the Actor’s Center in DC and I’ve done it once in the same space that I’m working with Little Women for Damascus Theatre Company. It has been a real privilege. The space that we are working in now I’ve been lucky to be able to mount I think almost half a dozen productions there. And it’s been a lot of fun. The Olney Theatre Center crowd is a really great crowd to get to work with.
Mike: So what’s it like doing the same show twice? I would think that would be a little limiting or does that free you up?
Kevin: Well, it’s kind of like getting a second chance to do the things you knew you could have done a little bit different when you were watching it, or a little bit better. Doing the same production twice for me we are talking about the Laramie Project. One of the things that distinguishes the two projects is that I got to do it with a youth program (Act Two Performing Arts) and then with the DC Actor’s Center. Getting a different population of performers. Pre professionals with Act Two and then some professional people with the DC Actor’s Center.
It’s really interesting to see how time in theater and how education in theater and how experience in theater really molds a performer’s perception on the material. There’s nothing wrong with getting a second stab at it. There are a couple of productions that I really would like to do over again that I’ve done that are on my list. In fact I am getting ready to do Parade which is Jason Robert Brown’s musical based on the Leo Frank trial at the Olney Theatre Center and it will be the second time in six years doing the project. Just because there are some things I wanted to try, or try a little differently, or some different nuances that I want to do to give a chance at.
Mike: Well that’s exciting. Good luck with that. So tell us how we can get tickets for Little Women and where it’s playing and the dates.
Kevin: This is the last weekend for Little Women. Again it is at the Olney Theatre Center, but it is their Theatre Lab, which is their black box space. You can get tickets by going on the Damascus Theatre website at damascustheatre.org and you can get tickets on their website. And you can always get tickets at the door for the production. There is not a bad seat in the house. It is an intimate space, but there is seating available . Like I said this is their last weekend. The show runs on Thursday night at 8 PM. Friday night at 8 pm and Saturday night at 8 pm and a Sunday matinee at 2 pm.
Mike: Ok, well thank you very much for talking with us. I hope the last few performances go well.
Kevin: Thank you very much. It’s been really exciting and I’m glad to get to speak to you.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/4226.
Laura & Mike Clark started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.