As a choreographer I like a challenge. And choreographing for tap dancing storm troopers, Chicago-esque prisoners and old ladies with walkers is certainly a challenge …
When I first heard that CUADC were putting on The Producers I just had to apply to choreograph the show. It’s fair to say that the narrative is bizarre but it has such a lot of dance potential – as original director and choreographer Susan Stroman utilized in both the Broadway and film versions of the show.
It’s been a joy to work with such a variety of styles in one show (tap, jazz and salsa to name a few) and the music certainly lends itself to some imaginative and exciting compositions. Two of my favorite numbers are “That Face” – a Gene Kelly inspired dance duet between Leo and Ulla, two of the main characters – and “Springtime for Hitler” a characterful and comedic tap and jazz fusion in Act II. Yet working with a cast of 25 in a limited time frame and a LOT of dance numbers hasn’t always been easy.
I think one of the main complexities devising choreography for such a large cast is keeping dances interesting and innovative whilst ensuring that the moves are teachable, effective and uniform. One way I’ve tried to achieve this is through regular changing of dance formations (the positions people are in on stage when dancing) throughout numbers. It’s also been helpful splitting the cast into different segments so it’s quite rare that absolutely everyone is on stage at the same time (though this has its own challenges when it comes to teaching large sections of dance).
Although juggling teaching a colossal amount of choreography alongside my degree has, at times, been slightly stressful, it’s been a fantastic experience and one I’d definitely repeat again. I love pushing my creativity and thinking about different ways to present a story within movement and I hope all of you who come to see ‘The Producers’ will enjoy watching as much as I’ve enjoyed creating the dance numbers.
Tickets are selling fast for THE PRODUCERS, which runs from the 14th to 24th March, but are still available to buy here.