What is your role on the production? I am the music director, so I have ultimate responsibility for every note you hear. The music, while beautiful and very catchy, is surprisingly complex throughout – it is much harder than it seems. Throw in some singing in Hungarian, and the need to pare down a very full orchestration to a small ensemble suitable for a space like Walterdale, and I have spent many hours going through over 300 pages of music. And I have loved every minute of it!
What is your background in theatre? At Walterdale? I’ve been a music director and teacher for over 25 years. I currently teach musical theatre at the Citadel Theatre’s Foote Theatre School. As a music director, I seem to do shows with either very long titles – The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, A Tale of Two Cities, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Die Dreigroschenoper (the original German title of The Threepenny Opera) — or very short titles — Shout, Nine, and now Chess. My most recent work with Walterdale includes The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, The Threepenny Opera, and Nine.
What brought you out for this show? What drew you to it? This is one of my favourite scores of all time. From a purely musical perspective, it is one great song after another, so who wouldn’t want to work on that? This was also another opportunity to work with Kristen Finlay. This is our fifth show as a director/music director team, and I love the creativity and vision she brings. It is always a great pleasure to assist her in bringing a show to life on the stage.
Why do you think audiences should come see this show? What do you think they will take away from it? The story itself has surprising twists and layers – Cold War politics is not a common backdrop for musical theatre, so it is definitely not your typical “boy meets girl” musical. The big draw of this show, though, has to be the music. It is SO GOOD! I guarantee people will be singing the songs as they head home.
Chess is a Board Game… What’s your favorite Board Game? Why? Got any funny game-playing stories? When I was a child, my father found a book on old board games, and decided to build some for us. He made a number of games, including Go and Nine Men’s Morris. You’ve likely heard of Go, but Nine Men’s Morris is a little more obscure. A version of it dates back to ancient Egypt, it gained popularity in medieval England, and is mentioned by Shakespeare in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Hmmm, sounds somewhat like the opening song of this show…