The Official Blog of the
Williamstown Theatre Festival

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fellowship Musical | Western Country Sneak Peek Part 3

by Rachel Lerner-Ley,  Dramaturg

WESTERN COUNTRY director Davis McCallum, music director Matt Citron, and choreographer Sara-Ashley Bischoff share some of their experiences working on the show.
On Inspiration and Collaborating…

Davis McCallum: Noah and I worked on several plays together when we both arrived in New York almost ten years ago. So, part of the fun of Western Country for me has been collaborating with him again. I think we’ve all had a lot of fun in the rehearsal room, and although there has been no air conditioning, there has sometimes been some inspiration, which has been nice. 

Matt Citron: For me the collaboration is the inspiration.  As long as the team is working well together in the room I'm satisfied.  This isn't to say everyone should get along the whole time; disagreements are inevitable and even necessary. But if the collaborative process is stimulating, then most of my inspiration is generated for me.

Sara-Ashley Bischoff: This is one of the most exciting projects I've worked on.  I wish everyone could have been a fly on the wall at some point in our rehearsal room - the energy and passion driving this project were palpable.  It's what I, and I think most people who love theatre, always hope for in a project.   

It was not hard at all to find inspiration in creating the choreography.  This music is so gritty and honest and filled with heart and substance that just listening to the songs often makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.  I connected to this music instantly; translating the experience of the song into dance felt natural, almost effortless, because everything I needed was already there in the music itself.

On Creating a Musical and Bringing Nashville to the Stage…

Davis McCallum: Western Country is my first real musical, and it’s also the first for Noah and Kellys and Ryan. But I think, in some ways, the fact that we don’t know how things are “supposed” to work in a musical has been an asset. It feels like we’ve just been making it up as we go along, which has been part of the fun.

Matt Citron: I've been thinking a lot about the difference styles of country music, and how we can bring those to the stage.  For instance: what is the difference between the sound of a Las Vegas show vs. the sound of a bar band in a honkytonk vs. a lover outside a window with a single guitar.  I think we cover a lot of styles of country in this show and as a music director that is exciting. 

And there’s a banjo. I’ve never had a banjo in a show before.

Sara-Ashley Bischoff: It’s been an exciting challenge.  Dance in most musicals lives in a heightened, theatrical reality, but in Western Country, the dancing remains, for the most part, in the reality of the characters' circumstances.  This meant that the choreography needed to match the truthfulness and purity of the songs.  I did a lot of research in order to create dances that could live in a real honkeytonk world, dances that were rough and gritty and meant for "real people" to dance.

On being in Williamstown…

Sara-Ashley Bischoff: The collaboration among the incredibly talented theatre artists here is what makes Williamstown great.  Theatre is collaborative by nature, but there is an energy and passion and work ethic here that has pushed and inspired me to become a better artist.  
Davis McCallum: The opportunity to be at Williamstown and develop this musical with ten talented young actors and a killer band and our own rehearsal space for four whole weeks has been incredible. There’s nothing like it. I’m so grateful to Amanda and Justin for inviting us to come. I am going to be very sad when our two-day run is over.

Matt Citron: It truly is one of the great American Theater institutions and being here, you feel that.  The energy of the place is incredibly vibrant and stimulating.  I guess, going back to an earlier question, I find lots of inspiration in that.

Anything else you want our audiences to know?

Matt Citron: This show rocks! Come see it.

Davis McCallum: Dixie Scott T-shirts will be available for purchase in the lobby.

Sara-Ashley Bischoff: Don't be afraid to sing along or stomp your feet - we've been doing it since the first day of rehearsal!

Western Country plays two nights only! Monday July 19th and Tuesday July 20th at 7 pm & 11 pm. Directing Studio at the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance. Tickets are free, but reservations are required. Call early and call soon: 413. 597.3400

Photo by Sam Hough, Noah Haidle, Davis McCallum, and Sara-Ashley Bischoff


Connor said...

Sara-Ashley Bischoff is a powerhouse. She's going to be huge.

Anonymous said...

matt sounds like just another insipid wannabe. impossibly uninspired and most definitely uninspiring.

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