Audiences will be immersed in comedy, romance and intrigue during The Rep’s eclectic new season. Ladue News recently spoke with veteran artistic director Steven Woolf for a behind-the-scenes look at this year’s Tony award-winning classics, comedies and musicals. In addition, he shares what moves him most about The Rep, as well as what keeps audiences coming back for more.
LN: Tell us about your new season.
SW: The whole season is full of really entertaining shows that will provoke all sorts of emotion—from laughter to romance. It’s also a clever season that will make you think.
LN: Describe working on your first-ever Neil Simon play, Brighton Beach Memoirs.
SW: It’s simply Simon’s best play—so emotional, human and funny at the same time. And it will allow audiences to reflect on families, as it follows two families crowded into one house and the episodes that ensue.
LN: Are most of this season’s plays new to The Rep?
SW: The season is basically all new, except for Daddy Long Legs, an intimate musical with wonderful music and a great romantic story; and the comedic play, The Foreigner, which we did a quarter of a century ago. The rest of the shows are firsts for us—Good People was just on Broadway last year; Sense and Sensibility will have a relatively new adaptation that beautifully captures Jane Austen’s story; and Double Indemnity, which is a new adaptation of James M. Cain’s suspense novel.
LN: What is on tap for your Studio Theatre series?
SW: The 2012 Tony award-winning best play, Clybourne Park, will be a hot ticket.We also will have 4000 Miles—a sweet look at the generational differences between a grandmother and her 20-something-year-old grandson, who just biked across country; and Venus in Fur, which is a provocative production featuring an actress auditioning for a play called Venus in Fur, and halfway through, you don’t know if you’re in that play or if it’s just the actress auditioning.
LN: How do you select the shows you will be presenting?
SW: I read a lot, see a lot of plays, travel a lot to see things, and also hear from our subscribers and colleagues around the country about what they would like to see. Eventually, a season emerges.
LN: Tell us about this season’s performers.
SW:We have an all-new cast for Brighton Beach Memoirs that came to audition in New York. What’s special about them is they really love the play and are so pleased to do it for St. Louis.
LN: What is your favorite part about directing plays at The Rep?
SW: The excitement is every night when the lights go down. It’s live, so every night is a surprise in the best sense possible, and there’s nothing quite like when you’re sharing it with the audience. It’s a personal experience you can’t trade.
LN: What keeps audiences returning to The Rep?
SW: Two things: the mix of titles we’re choosing and the high-quality work we do, from the acting to the sets, costumes, lights and props. People are assured of seeing a really fine theatrical production, and many of them tell us ours are so much better than the New York productions.