Sunday, July 25, 2010

In the Wings: Enter Love: A Musical for Our Times. Meet Kenny Shepard, the director.

Kenny Shepard directs Enter Love: A Musical for Our Times, an original musical with music and lyrics by Lynn Lupold and book by Don Seybold. It will make its world premiere at Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette.

Kenny grew up in Indianapolis and currently teaches theatre dance at Butler University part-time, along with owning a production company called Blue-Eyed Events. He and his business partner direct and choreograph shows around the United States.

Kenny first came to know the content of Enter Love: A Musical for Our Times when he heard the songs in cabaret form at the Connoisseur Room in Indianapolis. Lynn told him it was going to be expanded into a book musical and asked if he would choreograph the show.

"I loved the music so much that I thought it would be a blast to work on it," Kenny said. "And when I read Don's book I loved it even more. One of my friends was going to direct it, but there were some logistical problems so Lynn and I talked about me taking on dual roles.

"When I saw it as a cabaret, I was curious how Lynn and Don would fit together the songs to make one cohesive piece. It was fascinating to me, seeing how they arranged things. Some things came and went, and a few verses were cut, but the way the characters were written by Don is how the show came together."

Kenny explained how it can be energizing to direct a world premiere of an original show.

"It's exciting that there's nothing to compare this production to," he said. "There's nothing that says, 'This has to be this way.' All of us - the cast members, Lynn, Don and Eric Van Cleave - can say, 'This is how it can be. This is how it feels.' I'm sure we'll be changing things up until the week of the show. That's what I want to happen so the characters get stronger and keep growing."

He said everyone who was needed to fill out the cast was at auditions.

"It was almost divine intervention because we'd say, 'Well, we still need So-and-So and then that person walked into the room," he said. "We were able to take the actors' strengths, put them in their roles and customize the roles around them."

He described what the audience will see and hear when they enter the historic Monon Depot Theatre to see the show.

"We will take them to an airport and make them feel that they actually are there," he said. "We might have some audience interaction with two of our actors who play flight attendants and gate agents. We have a house announcement and then the show starts quietly for about 15 seconds. And then all the hustle and bustle of the airport comes up."

Kenny described what the show's subtitle means.

"You see the hustle and bustle of modern life, everything is so fast today. You're texting, you're tweeting, you're Facebooking and there's not a lot of social grace anymore. In airports, there is another layer away from social graces and manners and being able to connect with someone," he said. "It shows that though you're surrounded by people you may not be interacting with, we're all in the same boat and we're all looking for the same thing."

Kenny concluded by describing what he thinks the audience will most remember about the show.

"It's the music. We have a joke that after I've staged a number I always say, 'Oh, that's my favorite song.' And then I'll stage something else and say, 'Oh, that's my favorite song.' And I really am humming them and I started doing that after hearing them at the Connoisseur Room," he said. "Even though they're not the melodies people have heard before, there will be three or four songs that they will be humming when they leave. And that is tough to do."

Enter Love: A Musical for Our Times opens Friday, August 13 and runs through Saturday, August 21 at the historic Monon Depot Theatre at the corner of 5th Street and North Street in downtown Lafayette. Friday and Saturday evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday afternoon performances begin at 2:30 p.m.

For more information about the show or to order tickets, call Civic Theatre's office at 765-423-7529 or visit Civic Theatre's website or the show's website.

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