For this Seagle Festival blog entry, we thought our readers might enjoy learning about our shows from a different angle than we usually take – through the lens of our stage directors.
Richard Kagey, Seagle Festival’s long-time Director of Productions, will take on directing the double bill of Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi by Giacomo Puccini, with performances July 20-23, as well as the new American opera Fellow Travelers by Gregory Spears and Greg Pierce, which will show August 3-6.
Meaghan Deiter, who returns for a second season this year, will direct our two musicals: Hello, Dolly! by Jerry Herman, with performances July 6-9, and Once Upon a Mattress by Mary Rodgers, with performances August 17-20.
We asked both Richard and Meaghan to answer a few questions.
How do you prepare to direct shows like these?
Richard (on Puccini): With any Puccini opera you must listen carefully to the score. Not just the vocal lines – but the music when there is no singing. Puccini writes in his music exactly what he expects the moments to be on stage. I have learned over the years to not follow his musical direction complicates the story telling.
Meaghan (on Hello, Dolly!): While I’ve not directed the show before, I’ve performed in it and seen a Broadway revival, so it’s a show I’m quite familiar with. That said, approaching a piece as an actor is very different than approaching it as a director.
I started by rereading the script and noting anything that caught my imagination regarding major themes. I tried to let it speak to me as if I hadn’t read it before, and then jotted down anything that felt interesting, important, confusing, inspiring, etc.
And then I read it again. This time I zeroed in on the setting and timeline. It’s important to have a clear understanding where each scene takes place and how we get from point A to point B throughout the entire show. I read it slowly and took notes to make sure I stacked the blocks correctly.
From there, I read it again! This time around, I took close notes on costume considerations, props, scenic needs, etc. I also started to sketch big picture ideas for staging.
The next step involves meeting with the designer to start building the world of this production together. This is where we are currently for the summer season. We are meeting about sets and costumes and beginning to lock in decisions.
Working with the singers is the final step. I like to schedule a few book reads ahead of starting staging, so that we can explore the themes of the show and the character motivations together.