Meet Curtis Knecht, Director of Blithe Spirit

MagicfootcrazyWhat is your role on this production? I am the director of Blithe Spirit.   While I’m mainly responsible for the staging of the actors, I also have input into every other part of the production.   I’ve found that the secret is to surround yourself with amazingly talented people who will design, build and act towards the vision you hold as the director.

What drew you to this show? Blithe Spirit was one of the shows I submitted to the Walterdale for consideration and was extremely excited when it was chosen for inclusion in the season.  The play was originally conceived as an escapist comedy to ease the terrible burden of living in a constantly threatened World War II era London.  It is full of rich language and clever turns of phrase, and some of the most entertaining characters written for the stage. Apart from the wonderful script, Blithe Spirit has also provided me the opportunity to work with an incredibly talented group of people; both Walterdale veterans and neophytes.

What is your background in Theatre? I have a Master of Music degree in Voice and Pedagogy and so I approached theatre from the musical side of the stage.  Along with my practical training in voice and theatre I also have diplomas in Music Merchandising and Arts & Cultural Management.  I was most recently onstage in a production of the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (as Barfee) for ELOPE and directed Oliver!: The Musical at Festival Place.  My first experience with the Walterdale was as music director for a production of The Rocky Horror Show.   I also directed The Threepenny Opera and was fortunate to have roles onstage in productions of Taming of the Shrew and Wyrd Sisters.

What do you most connect to about the play? Why? I love the language… the dialogue; Blithe Spirit is a “wordy” play and the language is full and rich.   I really enjoy the scenes with Ruth and Charles as they are haunted by an as yet unseen (at least by Ruth) Elvira.   The relationship between the 3 characters is thrilling to watch.

Blithe Spirit involves ghost and psychics. Got any funny/sad/silly ghost or psychic stories? Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) I don’t have any ghostly or psychic stories.   The “otherworld” has kindly left me alone.    I did hear a rather ironic story recently about a Psychic Convention that was unexpectedly cancelled due to ‘unforseen circumstances’, and that amused me quite a bit.

What do you enjoy most about doing a Noel Coward play? Again… the words.   Noel Coward wrote beautifully.   I think it helped that for many of his productions, he was writer and actor and approached the dialogue with thoughts of the stage firmly planted in his mind.  He performed the role of Charles in Blithe Spirit, and perhaps there is some slight auto-biographical influence in some of Charle’s characteristics.

What are you enjoying the most about this production? Not only am I watching the actors discover the fantastic dialogue, but also their discovery of all those clever, interesting and funny moments when they don’t have dialogue but are still part of the scene.   There is a complex dance going on in many of the scenes as the actors move through the world of Blithe Spirit.

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