Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Page to Stage Recap: Sequins, the Season and the Art of Critiquing (Part I)

Our June Page to Stage had some very special guests.

It might even have been one of the best Page to Stage events we’ve ever had (sorry if you missed it). Luckily we’ve got this two-part blog series to get you all caught up!

What was meant to be simply a look at the past and the upcoming seasons turned into a fascinating discussion of marketing, social media and the role of the theatre critic. For today you’ll get a quick introduction to our two guests and a summary of their remarks about the 2012-13 season, which is drawing to a close, and the 2013-14 season, which will begin in just a couple months.

Maggie Boland, Managing Director
Maggie Boland (on left), Signature Theatre's Managing Director

Maggie Boland didn’t necessarily take the standard route to becoming one of a handful of female managing directors of regional theatre companies. Hailing from Scranton, Pennsylvania, she headed to Boston for school where she majored in English. After graduation it was off to New York City where she temped at a fashion design firm and Bechtel Corporation (the company that built the Hoover Dam). Somehow she ended up working at Roundabout Theatre in New York and eventually landed at Arena Stage in DC where she worked for ten years in a wide range of areas including marketing, finance, and development before coming to Signature as Managing Director five years ago.

As Managing Director, Maggie works hand-in-hand with our Artistic Director, Eric Schaeffer, overseeing the business side of things to ensure that Signature continues to run smoothly (a job which she does very well). If you asked the staff of Signature what they love most about Maggie they would probably say her hearty laugh, her get-stuff-done attitude and that sometimes she brings Dunkin' Donuts to the office.

Hunter Styles, Public and Community Relations Manager

Hunter Styles, Signature's Public and
Community Relations Manager
It turns out Hunter is a bit of a jack of all trades. You may have seen him around town managing the box office at Studio Theatre, heading up Artist’s Bloc, writing or directing plays for the Capital Fringe Festival or writing features for the American Theatre Magazine. He admits that he has a tendency to say “yes” to everything, but in doing so is learning what to say “no” to.

Hunter only recently began working at Signature – he started in September of last year – but since his arrival, he has become a unique asset to the Signature staff, contributing public relations expertise, fresh ideas and a very sharp sense of humor. His position covers press relations, outreach, developing relationships with businesses, the county, etc and talking on the phone. A lot. When we asked Maggie what she loves about Hunter, she commented that she loves that he thinks like a journalist and pitches projects like a writer.

This past season was pretty stellar and it took Maggie and Hunter a moment to sift through all of the good things that happened at Signature to select these highlights:

Photo: Chris Mueller
Not only was Dreamgirls a financial and artistic success, but it also “solidified that Matthew Gardiner is a rock star.” Maggie was beaming with pride as she talked about how Dreamgirls helped to make Matthew a sought-after and accomplished DC director. Dreamgirls was also one of Signature’s biggest and most technically-complicated shows to-date (many who saw the show were dazzled by the spectacle of light, sound and sequins the show offered). Hats off to all who made Dreamgirls a show to remember.

Hello, Dolly!
As Signature continued to stabilize operations in their new Shirlington space, Hello, Dolly! (a co-production with Ford’s Theatre) provided the Signature staff with some much-needed breathing room. Not only was Signature able to reevaluate certain programs like the cabaret series, but it also put Signature’s work in front of new audiences.

Other Items of Note
Signature’s production of Shakespeare's R&J was the first show ever to be performed in-the-round in the MAX theatre (and a pat on the back to director Joe Calarco who made great use of the space).

This season was also the first year in No Rules Theatre Company’s residency at Signature Theatre. Keep an eye out for their upcoming No Rules Show which brings their 2012-13 season to a close.

Signature’s 24th Season is shaping up to be pretty exciting. In fact, when the season announcement came out we saw tweets like “the 2013/2014 season looks great. i'm excited & can't wait to see everything -- especially the world premieres. break legs!” and "13/14 season is most definitely squeeeeeeeeeeeee-worthy. Wow," not to mention a great article from Washington Post critic Peter Marks. Hopefully the insider information below will get you hyped up as well!

SPIN (July 9, 2013 - July 27, 2013)
Note: Spin is a SigLab production and therefore not really part of either season, but it hasn’t happened yet so we’re throwing it in with the rest of the upcoming shows.

It turns out that musical theatre is a big deal in South Korea, as is the producer Mr. Shin. Eric, who has earned an international renown as a director, was sought out by the producers of Spin to work on this unique project. Spin is a new musical based on a Korean filmed, Speedy Scandal, which will, following development at Signature, be translated into Korean and performed in South Korea. This summer you can check out the funny, family friendly SigLab production for only $30! Bonus? You might even see some of the cast members from Company on stage again.

MISS SAIGON (August 15, 2013 - September 22, 2013)
To open our 24th Season, Signature will be presenting an environmental production of the hit musical, Miss Saigon. What’s an “environmental production”? It basically means that the entire theatre will be integrated into the scenic design. You won’t want to miss what Maggie is calling a “thick, full, exciting, 360º” production.

PRIDE IN THE FALLS OF AUTREY MILLS (October 15, 2013 - December 8, 2013)
If you loved Paul Down Colaizzio’s Really Really, you’re going to love this new play of his! The writing is similarly gritty and revealing, but more mature and even a little stylistically absurd. Directed by Michael Kahn (Artistic Director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company), this production promises to shine the light on the hidden shadows of the seemingly perfect suburban family.

CROSSING (October 29, 2013 - November 24, 2013)
In the past couple of years, Signature has produced a workshop and a concert version of this new musical by Matt Connor. While in the past it has had more of song cycle feel (think Jason Robert Brown’s Songs for a New World), the book, written by Grace Barnes, brings the story together, connecting songs and strengthening character relationships. Keep an eye out for the cast album which will be released prior to the production.

GYPSY (December 17, 2013 - January 19, 2014)
What did Hunter and Maggie have to say about this Joe Calarco-directed classic? Children. There will be lots of children (the entire season, really, is full of children). Also, Donna Migliacci, Tracy Lynn Olivera, and Sandy Bainum as the three strippers? Enough said.

BEACHES (Feburary 18, 2014 - March 23, 2014)
That’s right, Signature is bringing that famous tear-jerker to life on stage next season in the form of a world-premiere musical. The script follows the novel closely (as opposed to following the film) and is even being penned by the original author, Iris Rainer Dart. To all you hard-core Beaches fans, Hunter reassured us that “Wind Beneath My Wings” was in the most recent draft of the script, although it’s inclusion has not yet been finalized. According to Maggie, “It’s a weepie,” so be sure to bring your Kleenex!

TENDER NAPALM (March 18, 2014 - May 11, 2014)
This two-hander show is not for the faint-of-heart theatre-goer. Coming from stellar runs in New York as well as London, this abstract piece discusses the inner workings of a marital relationship using imagery and non-linear story-telling. Matthew Gardiner will be directing and Maggie feels that he is a perfect fit for this movement-heavy piece.

THE THREEPENNY OPERA  (April 22, 2014 - June 1, 2014)
True to form, Signature is celebrating a number of “firsts” this next season, including their first piece of Brecht. Hunter and Maggie explained that this will be an “de-sanitized” production; much dirtier, grittier and, hopefully, closer to how Brecht intended the piece to be performed. If you’re looking for a standard musical theatre story, keep in mind that Brecht was always more about politics than plot.

CLOAK & DAGGER (June 12, 2014 - July 6, 2014)
It just so happens that Ed Dixon is not only an actor (you may have seen him as Max in Sunset Boulevard), but also a writer and composer! Dixon’s new musical was inspired by The 39 Steps and similarly includes a cast of few actors playing many, many, many roles (Maggie and Hunter estimate four actors and 40+ characters). Needless to say, it will be a fast-moving, riotous musical that all will enjoy.

Let us not forget Signature’s amazing cabaret series. Patrons can look forward to enjoying many evenings of show-stopping entertainment and maybe even an additional fall cabaret series…

As you can see, it's going to be a season you won't want to miss!

For synopses of next season's shows, click here. You can purchase season tickets here.

Don't forget to check out Part II of this recap on Friday!


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