Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Something's Coming...

Our Artistic Director David Saint has been quite busy lately, juggling production meetings and auditions for New Year's Eve and rehearsals in New York, working with upcoming New Year's Eve playwright and director of the current West Side Story revival, Arthur Laurents.

Saint and Laurents have collaborated eight prior times at George Street including 2 Lives, Jolson Sings Again, and Venecia.

Here's an excerpt from a recent interview with Star Ledger's new magazine Inside Jersey, with David about the landmark production:

"With a young and mostly Latino cast led by newcomer Josefina Scaglione in the role of Maria, the show opens at Broadway's Palace Theatre March 19 and it is grittier and more realistic than past versions of the Romeo and Juliet tale.

"What Arthur has worked so hard on is to find what is fresh and new and at the same time to present the same powerful classic," says David Saint, artistic director of the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick and associate director of the show.

The idea of performing in English and Spanish came from Laurents' late partner Tom Hatcher, who attended a South American production done completely in Spanish. Allowing the Sharks to speak in their own language not only differentiates the two gangs, but also elevates the status of the Puerto Ricans, making the conflict seem richer and the two sides more evenly matched. The idea was called "a stroke of genius" by one critic who reviewed the five-week pre-Broadway engagement at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C., which ended in January.

While the Spanish dialogue gives the production an interesting authenticity, it also complicates it. And that's fine with its creators, says Saint. "The world has changed, theater has changed. This is a multilingual world. Sometimes you have to communicate and . . . sometimes there is a gap of understanding."

The show has had two previous revivals, in 1964 and 1980. In addition to his full-time duties as artistic director of George Street Playhouse, Saint has been working as associate director of "West Side Story" since March 2007, when auditions for the cast began. His selection as Laurents' right-hand man makes sense, given that the two artists have collaborated on eight plays in the last decade. Many have been at George Street, which Laurents describes in his Playbill biography as his "favorite theater."

The partnership continues next month, when Laurents premieres his new comedy "New Year's Eve" starring Marlo Thomas at George Street. Saint will direct"

photo by Joan Marcus, posted by Scott Goldman, Executive Assistant

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