A Gentlemen's Guide to Love and Murder is currently playing at Cowan Hall. We were able to sit down with the Director Thom Warren for a question-and-answer interview about the performance.
A: Yeah, both actually. Several of our original 2020 cast graduated, several left the department or transferred out of Otterbein, so there were natural casting changes that had to happen. We also offered students who were in the production but were still students the opportunity to audition for other things this semester that they could. They wouldn't have to feel locked into reprising their role, and several of them got casted in the fall production of Pajama Game. I think we only have a few original cast members filling the same role they would have if the show had come on when we initially planned it.
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A: You always have more opportunity the more you can spend time unpacking it do you can discover new things which is advantageous. We are presenting it in a way that is different than the way we were going to present it a year and a half ago. We're calling this a staged concert, so the physical production is somewhat less than what you would've seen with the set a year and a half ago with full costumes, but we've designed this to have a concert look which is really beautiful, so approaching it from that perspective was new and does have its drawbacks but also has advantages.
Q: What was the most difficult things to accomplish on a technical level?
A: Well, the central theatrical device for this show is that the main character is ninth in line to become an earl, and kills everyone who was in line before him, and every single one of those family members is played by the same person. Now it does take a talented actor to pull it off but with full costumes and quick changes it's easy for the audience to tell that these are different characters even though they're being played by the same actor. Since we're not fully costuming the show we had to work around that limitation and we found some really wonderful and fun solutions thanks to the concert style. There were some other challenges as well, since this is a comedy and it's supposed to be funny, and the comedy in the story is broad physical comedy, and it was important for us to keep that, and I think we have. We also really wanted to keep the orchestra because the score is beautiful and we always knew we wanted to maintain the musical integrity. So we have a full orchestra, which is expensive but we thought it was worth doing to have them onstage as a focal point for the audience throughout the night.
Q: Was the reason for the various members of the D'Ysquith family being played by one actor a COVID limitation or for another reason?
A: No, it was actually done that way on Broadway and one of the source materials of this is a movie called "Kind Hearts and Clarinets," and the same device was used in that movie. As far as COVID related restrictions are concerned, we have had to rehearse in masks and there have been other minor steps we need to take, but compared to how we did plays last year, the restrictions are barely an issue. Last year we had to pre-record all of the vocals, we couldn't sing, we had to lip-synch, and we couldn't present anything live since everything was virtual last year. But for this show, we will be allowed to sing live. The actors won't be wearing masks on stage but will be anywhere else such as in the wings or backstage. All of the audience will be and we will be following all university protocols, but other than that there aren't any major COVID related issues.
A: This show is fun, it's light-hearted, really well written, and I think it's important for all of us to have something like this that we can enjoy and have a good time with. Many people go the theater for escape, and I think we really succeed in that.