Interview with Director Doreen Cohn regarding the production of The Music Man.
Q: There appears to be amazing enthusiasm at the rehearsals. How do you maintain such high energy levels night after night? It is really exciting to observe your cast grasp your Direction so quickly…
A: Our production team, (myself, Doreen Cohn, director, choreographer Alison Bogatay, music director Will Minton, Tech Director, Ken Jones, Costumer, Cindy Braunlich and Assistant Director, Karen Sidel) have been excitingly preparing for this production since June so hopefully our enthusiasm is contagious and carries over to our cast. Because we have such a short rehearsal period (less than 10 weeks), it is essential that we are organized and that every rehearsal is maximized.
Our cast understands this and comes to rehearsals well prepared and with much excitement.
Q: You bring tremendous insight and experience to the Direction of the play, can you tell me a little bit about your background?
A: I have been directing theater in the area for over 30 years, including the last 5 TGS musicals. I was head of the theater department at The Ethel Walker School in
Simsbury for over 15 years.
I just retired last year, after teaching in the Avon Public Schools for over 39 years. For a large part of that (25 years) I was an Artistic Enrichment Resource Teacher. My role was to work with teachers integrating the arts (esp. drama) into the curriculum, grades K-6. During this time I had the opportunity to work on theatrical projects including “actors” of all ages from Kindergarten Alphabet musicals, to 6th grade full scale musicals and 4th grade Ellis Island recreations.
In addition from 1991-2005 I coordinated an Avon Public School summer program called ARTS IN ACTION which was a successful theme based arts integrated program. In 2007, I worked with the principal of Avon High School, Jason Beaudin to develop a musical theater program at Avon High, and taught theater at AHS prior to my retirement.
I feel that this experience, working with so many ages, has really benefited my work with THE MUSIC MAN’s multi generational cast.
I have been involved with TGS since the late 70’s . My role has evolved from on- stage to behind the scenes (set design), and now as Artistic Director and Board Member. TGS has been an important part of my life for over 30 years, allowing me opportunities to develop my skills but also providing wonderful friendships that have lasted throughout the years.
Q: How and why did the Guild select THE MUSIC MAN?
A: This is the 40th Anniversary year of TGS. It was important that the musical picked this year embody the mission and values of TGS; to celebrate community theater with an inter-generational classic musical that also honors the small town experience. The Music Man fit the bill. We had produced this musical in 1988 so a “revival” of a prior musical was also very appropriate for this Anniversary year.
Our Mission Statement:
- Bring entertainment to people of all ages from all over the region;
- Enrich the community life through our activities;
- Ensure that quality musical theatre continues to be available at low cost to audiences who might not otherwise have access to such productions;
- Provide members with a forum in which to perform and perfect their skills;
- Encourage the youth in our community to challenge and perfect their skills and talents by performing with our organization;
- Provide deserving local high school students with scholarships so they may continue their education in the performing arts;
- Collaborate with our local sister community theatre organizations to help ensure each organization’s success and existence;
- Build audience participation in the arts from youth through maturity.
Q: You have a very large, age diversified cast, does this present additional challenges for the Director?
A: This is one of the largest casts we’ve had in many years. We have over 80 cast members including 20 teenagers and 15 children. The greatest challenge is incorporating such a large cast on the stage and yet still allowing the action to be truthful and interesting. We needed to find ways to avoid staging where crowds just stand and sing, but to create interesting and meaningful stage pictures. One method we are using is to actually create the town of River City, Iowa by grouping all cast members into family groups. Each family group developed their relationships and history. This we hope will add a dimension to our production.
Q: Can you give us a little insight behind the scenes?
A: Putting on any musical is a challenge. What the audience sees on stage is really the “tip of the iceberg. What makes TGS an incredible organization is the behind the scenes “village” (as in “it takes a village”) that supports the production, from our co-producers, Darlene Davis and Chris Weed, technical director, Ken Jones, set
construction coordinator, Chris Tully, Lighting Designer, Michael Hunter, Scenic Artist, Barbara Panico, costumes, props, hair and makeup, ticket sales, publicity, advertising, and so on.
Q: I understand you will have a large orchestra for “The Music Man”…
A: TGS is fortunate to have a full orchestra of over 20 musicians for our production. Our music director, Will Minton is the “Pied Piper” bringing musicians from all over the region together to create the Broadway sound. This is especially exciting for The Music Man, with one of the best scores in Broadway musical history, including songs such as “Seventy Six Trombones” and “Til There Was You.”
Q: I have heard that ticket sales are brisk…
A: Our productions are held in the Simsbury High School Auditorium. It’s an amazing venue. We are very lucky for the support from the Town of Simsbury.
Presale tickets are $20 and can be purchased online, theatreguildsimsbury.org.
At the door prices: $22 general admission, $20 students/seniors.
In addition there are options for supporting the group as a Personal or Business Patron.
Forms and information are also available on our website.
Q: How can someone get involved now?
A: TGS is always looking for new members onstage as well as behind the scenes. If you are interested in getting involved you can email us as email@example.com, or check out our website for updates on upcoming auditions and events.
The Theatre Guild of Simsbury presents THE MUSIC MAN Nov. 3, 4, 9,10, and 11 at the Simsbury High School Auditorium. Tickets may be purchased online at theatreguildsimsbury.org or by phone at 860-658-0666.