As many of you know, Noël Coward has been something of a specialty for me over the last twenty years. This summer will mark an even dozen productions of Coward plays that I’ve been involved with over my career. Private Lives is perhaps my very favorite play of all. I played Sybil in my very first paid summer stock production, and again in my second show I appeared in here in Houston. I was lucky enough to direct a brilliant cast in a Main Street Theater production in 2008. Now, eleven years later I get to direct it once again.
We secured our wonderful cast months ago, including Elizabeth Marshall Black as Amanda, Alan Brincks as Elyot, Skylar Sinclair as Sibyl, Joel Grothe as Victor, and our own Artistic Director Rebecca Green Udden as Louise the maid. When we started rehearsals this week with a Part of the Art first read-through in front of our MST die hard fans, it was my first chance to hear this cast say those brilliantly bright, brittle, and witty words. I’m more excited than ever to be returning to this jewel of a play.
Rehearsals Tuesday through Thursday were spent rough blocking and working on refining character choices that the cast had made in preparation for rehearsal. Today, we went back to work the scenes and moments of Act I. I was thrilled with the progress we made today. But when on our way out of the theater at the end of a long Saturday, my stage manager Julie Paré said, “I love our cast,” I knew it was not just my own love of the script. The show is already coming together. Which is great, because two and a half weeks is a very short time to put together a play of this complexity, especially a comedy.
French playwright Moliere’s last words reportedly were “Tragedy is easy. Comedy is hard.” I couldn’t agree more. Comedy is all about the timing. The placement of a breath can make or break a sure fire laugh line. A muddy gesture can weaken a moment. A well timed arching of an eyebrow can bring the house down. All this is true of any comedy, but it is more intensely true of a comedy of manners and high style, like Coward.
It promises to be a roller coaster ride, but I’m thrilled to be in the front seat, and hope to see you all in the theater seats when we start previews on July 14, or after we open on July 20, 2019. Come be part of our art!
For information on show times and tickets, call 713-524-6706, or visit www.mainstreettheater.com.