I got lucky. Much of what brought me to directing Lend Me a Tenor three years ago today was pure, unadulterated luck.
I happened to not go to sleepaway camp until I was 13, which is kind of old, and I happened to pick the bed next to the one other kid in my bunk who did theatre, and he happened to get a job as an assistant stage manager a couple of years later, and that happened to make me jealous, and that happened to make me want to direct. And the kid happened to go to GW and happened to get involved in FPP, and happened to know Lend Me a Tenor and suggested it to me.
And I happened to do Pippin senior year of high school, so that when I went to GW planning to not do theatre for the first semester so that I could get settled in with my work, but FPP happened to be doing Pippin, I decided what the heck, I might as well tryout. And I happened to make it (all the guys who tried out did) and I happened to become friendly with the director and one of the supporting stars. And the director happened to be the artistic director of the company and the supporting star happened to be directing a show the next semester. So when I decided, what the hell, I'll apply to direct in the cabaret for spring semester my freshman year, I got it. And then I was asked to assistant direct.
So I got very lucky just to get to the point where I was proposing Lend Me a Tenor. And I thought that would be all, I would propose, I would show that I was interested in directing, I would get a decent assistant directing gig, and I would go through the process the next semester.
But Sam Dercher (I owe her the few hits she might get through this) chose my show. I didn't know why, and I still don't. I was up against someone who had directed before, had directed a relatively successful play in the fall and was on the FPP executive board. When I got an interview for my show I thought "well that's nice," but I had no doubt in my mind, I wasn't getting it.
So when I got it, I decided I was going to make the most of it. And although I always thought I would get the opportunity to direct again, I decided to direct like I wouldn't have that chance. I'd do everything I dreamed of doing as a director.
And that is why I ended the show with the Macarena. It was actually a no brainer. The "doing the show in a minute" was funny in itself, but I knew if the cast was willing the Macarena would make the audience lose it. I think it succeeded.
I made plenty of mistakes along the way. I picked an Assistant Director I didn't fully trust, but I wanted to give her the opportunity I had with Ballyhoo. She let me down, and had to be replaced before auditions even occurred.
I got aggravated with the cast as rehearsals wore on and many of them started having rehearsals for other shows that weren't going up until after Tenor. I also had trouble as they continued to not be off book when I asked. This led to me going off on one cast member who quit the next day. This was incredibly hard on me, I thought for a little while FPP was going to take the show away from me. They didn't, and I think I was able to change for the better for the last few weeks. I also think this is why I never got to direct again, despite proposing 4 times after LMAT.
The moment also reinvigorated me. The replacement, Sara Martin, was someone I had great respect and admiration for. She had been in the song I directed in the 2007 Cabaret, and I thought she was incredibly talented. I didn't have a choice in who got the role, but if I did I could not have chosen a more perfect person. She played the part better than I could have ever imagined.
Another cast member was Matt Avento. At the first production meeting, an outdoor picnic in May before heading back to NY for the summer, I told Sam that Matt was the exact person I pictured as the bellhop, but I assumed he would choose to audition for one of the musicals instead. I was right, he did not audition for LMAT. In fact, due to conflicts, only 3 guys auditioned for LMAT that I could cast. Those 3- Patrick, Carlos, and Brian- fell perfectly into the roles of Max, Tito, and Mr. Saunders, but I had no bellhop. Thanks to a series of phone calls by Sarah Kupferman, FPP's EP at the time, Matt came to callbacks, and we gave him the role after one readthru. He played it perfectly, and stole many scenes throughout the show.
Three years later, my work on Lend Me a Tenor remains the thing I am most proud of for my time at GW. I still can't believe I was the one who directed the show.