Bringing ANNIE GET YOUR GUN to the Plaza Stage – a Director’s Journey Part 1

We thought it would be fun for our patrons and fans to get a behind-the-scenes look at the process a Director goes through in bringing a large musical to the Plaza stage. To that end, we have asked Kyle Macy, Director of ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, to provide a weekly blog about his Director’s journey. This is Part One of his Director’s Journey blog. — Plaza Producers

Annie Got Her Blog

Volume 1.

I feel truly honored to have been asked by the Plaza Producers Aaron and Milette Siler, and JaceSon and Tina Barrus to direct Annie Get Your Gun.  This offer came while I was performing the role of Mervin Oglethorpe in their production of Smoke on the Mountain: Homecoming.  AGYG is not a show that I was really familiar with, and I’m not sure how it fell through the musical theatre cracks of my experience.  Upon some quick researching, I found a series of “I didn’t know that came from that show!” songs.  That, combined with the logistics of staging a warhorse musical in the round seemed like a fun challenge.  Also, my lead time was only a month and some change until auditions, meaning I had to research the piece and come up with my production framework in a very quick amount of time.

In approaching any show, and knowing my own habits, I tend to only say yes to projects that scare me a little.  That way, I know I’ll work hard on it.  Smoke, for example required me to sing, something that I don’t believe is one of my better skill sets.  Personally I feel I am best accompanied by a vacuum cleaner or running shower and empty house.  However, Aaron, the director for Smoke, talked with me and we came up with a take on Mervin that we were both comfortable with.  The result was some character singing that didn’t kill the legit work the rest of the cast was doing.  So, in handling the music side of AGYG, I needed someone I could trust to make sure that the music was learned and performed well; so I asked Kristin Spires to accept the role of Music Director. I am grateful she did.  Kristin is a known talent in the DFW metroplex for her musical theater performances, and as voice teacher, and as a veteran section leader for Fort Worth Opera.  Having taken a lesson or two from her before, I know how she works with people and felt she is the perfect choice to help folks learn a lot, and quickly.

Part of the challenge in community theater is finding the talent needed to tell the story you want to tell.  You can find a singer, actor, or dancer, but finding folks who can do all of it is tricky.  Those folks are often pros who can’t afford to work for free.  That combined with the fact that AGYG rehearses over Christmas and New Years, as well as having a Valentine’s Day show meant I would likely not have a lot of folks who had already made travel plans.  This meant I either can’t cast them, as they’ll miss too much time, or I have to somehow work around cast members missing a third of the rehearsal process.

With a limited time, I needed someone who could put together the large dance sequences very quickly.  For that, I turned to Eddie Floresca.  Eddie and I have worked together on two other shows, and I know he’s great at working with dancers of all ability levels.

So how to do AGYG in an interesting way?  When directing a show, I prefer to not simply restage the original production.  However, you have to be true to the intentions of the authors, you can’t change things.  In addition, from a technical end, you’re not producing the show in the same space with the same resources, so it is foolish to expect to have different sets/costumes/orchestration/talent and expect the same results.  Plaza stages in the round, with the audience sitting in rows that rise above the stage.  That means that scenic elements can only be a few feet tall before they cause sightline problems for half the patrons.  So no walls, or buildings, only “furniture”.  The piece takes place in a field, train, boat, ballroom, and circus tent – pretty diverse locations, and those are only the big scenes.  How will I create the physical world for AGYG?

Then there’s the research of the play and in this case, the real-life people.  AGYG has had some major work on it since the first production on Broadway =  new characters and songs, others cut, and a major reworking of the book to remove the non-PC “Indian” jokes.  I thought it would be interesting to do a treatment of the show to pay homage to the real Annie – but my research into the real woman turned up some very problematic results.

Kyle Macy – Director, Annie Get Your Gun

    • Cindy
    • December 21st, 2010

    That was interesting; the blog is a great idea, hope Kyle has time for it though

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