Interview with Robert Chapel
Welcome back to the blog! Today we managed to track down the elusive Bob Chapel and were able to ask him a few questions about his production of Company, which runs through Friday!
Hi Bob! Congratulations on a wonderful opening weekend! The buzz around the show is already amazing, and we wanted to do a quick follow up with you to learn a little more about you and the creative team’s process. You’ve been an integral part of the Heritage Theatre Festival for many, many years now – what was the process like when it came to deciding to direct Company? Did you bring the show to Colleen Kelly? Or was it something she wanted to do and knew you were the one for the job?
Colleen selected the show. She called me up and asked if I would like to direct it and I said “yes.”
Simple as that! That’s great. You and the designers have set the show in the 1970s – when the musical was originally written. What about the show made you want to ground it in that period?
Although the show is centered around the institution of marriage and deals with issues that are as relevant today as way back when, there are certain references that are very 1970s — “Will you call me tomorrow, or my service will explain” and scenes such as the dope smoking scene that would seem a bit dated were the show to be set in today’s world. I also believe that there is less pressure to “be married” today than it was in the 70s. The last production of the show on Broadway was a radical rendition with the cast also playing the instruments on stage. I decided I wanted our audience to see what is a bit closer to what they would have seen when it was originally produced. It was the show that really started to propel Stephen Sondheim onward to his extraordinary successes.
Company is a deeply personal musical, interlaced with a lot of wild characters and some pretty whacky moments – what work have you had to do with the cast to balance the comedy with the drama?
I always want my actors to play the truth — whether playing comedy or seriously dramatic moments (of which there a few in “Company”). Comedy is very serious business and if actors commit to the moment, the situation, chances are the comedy will shine through. I fortunately have a company of actors who understand this completely. I am pleased with our comic moments and our serious moments throughout the evening.
So trusting the script and the performances to make that happen, that’s great. And now a little soft-ball: what has been your favorite part of working on Company this summer?
Working with this extraordinary cast — not only very talented but also very nice people. Every day was a pleasure from beginning to opening night.
Thanks Bob, and congrats again on such a wonderful production. We wish you and the cast many broken legs for the rest of the run!
If for some reason you haven’t yet, go ahead and grab tickets from the box office tab at the top of the page!