The Tonys are right around the corner, so we’re chatting with the men who made the most-nominated play of the year fly. Last week, the witty and winning playwright Rick Elice filled us in on the making of Peter and the Starcatcher and his other Broadway hit, Jersey Boys. This week, the co-directors of the show, Alex Timbers (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson) and Roger Rees (The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Cheers and more), play email interview with me.
What’s worth noting here is that these two men from such diverse backgrounds reply in such different ways: the young and voluble Timbers giving intricately thoughtful answers, the seasoned and erudite Rees dropping mysteriously cheeky haikus. With this kind of partnership, it’s no wonder the show they directed is such a joyous mash-up of styles and techniques.
First up, Alex Timbers:
Peter and the Starcatcher has an exhilarating anything goes, cultural mash-up quality that infuses much of your work (whether Peter’s British Panto meets 19th century boy’s adventure story or Bloody Bloody’s rock concert meets historical bio). How do you work to integrate these juxtapositions in your direction? Was there anything you tried that you felt was too out of place as an anachronism or as a cultural reference?
I love juxtaposing seemingly dissonant ideas and periods in order to better illuminate each and give us fresh perspective on what we think we already know. It’s also a great, fun tool for delivering exposition. Overall I don’t have a set of rules as to when something fits or when something doesn’t; instinct is really my guide as I’m developing the world and the show’s unique sensibility. Unlike on Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson though, I’m not the playwright of Peter and the Starcatcher so those questions fell mainly on the shoulders of our talented writer Rick Elice. I would say generally we found in the move from downtown to uptown that on “Peter” less was more. So a lot of the contemporary references, including an entire modern infomercial sequence in the first act, were cut.