The Mystery of Edwin Drood

A Conversation with Actor: Stephanie J. Block

Posted on: October 17th, 2012 by Roundabout


Ted Sod, Education Dramaturg, interviewed Stephanie J Block tabout her work on The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

TS: Tell us about yourself and how you were bitten by the theatre bug?

SJB: I grew up in Southern California, Orange County. My father, Steven, worked as a welfare fraud investigator. My mother, Rosemarie, worked for our local school district and was later employed by American Title Insurance Company. Both of them sang during their high school and collegiate careers, but neither one of them pursued it as a profession. I have one elder sister, Renee. She was one of the premiere dancers and princesses at Disneyland but married quite young and started having a family right away. She’s now pregnant with her fifth child, and there isn’t a better mom out there. For me, singing wasn’t “a bug,” it was a passion. My parents recognized that I could carry a tune and sing on pitch at the age of three. I would sing with television commercials or jingles on the radio. I began singing at my church when I was 7 years old. And when I was 11 years old, I began taking private voice lessons. I trained with the most amazing teacher, Jill Goodsell. She is an absolute master, and I apply what I’ve learned from her, and continue to learn from her, every day.

TS: Did you know that this is what you wanted to be your life’s work once you took voice lessons?

SJB: I knew almost immediately that performing would be my career. I was involved with the local community theatres and talent shows. At the age of 14, I auditioned for a performance group called “The Young Americans.” We traveled around the U.S. and the world to perform at different concerts, corporate events and industrial shows. One of the directors of the Young Americans, David Green, approached my parents and said, “I really think that Stephanie should look into going to a high school of the performing arts.” So my junior and senior year, I attended the Orange County High School of the Arts located on the campus of Los Alamitos High School. Essentially, I was going to school from 7am until about 7pm. I still continued all of my private voice lessons, and through Jill Goodsell, I was awarded a scholarship to the Boston Conservatory of Music. The scholarship only supported arts classes, no regular curriculum. My family could not afford that school without a full scholarship, so the plan was for me to attend Orange Coast College the first two years and then transfer. I went there for five days. I felt like a lion in a cage. I looked at my parents and said, “Let me just try it out there in the real world. I want to jump in head first and start.” My parents hated the idea of me leaving college. But we made a pact. They were going to keep a really close watch on me, and if they saw me lose my focus or discipline, if they saw me stop growing in my craft or simply rest on my laurels, I was going back to college.... Read More →

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2012-2013 Season, A Conversation with, The Mystery of Edwin Drood

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A Conversation with Choreographer: Warren Carlyle

Posted on: October 17th, 2012 by Roundabout


Ted Sod, Education Dramaturg, interviewed Choreographer Warren Carlyle about his work on The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Ted Sod: Can you tell us about your background?

Warren Carlyle: I was born in Norwich, Norfolk, on the east coast of England. I went to a regular high school and I went to a ballet school in London. I appeared in ten shows in the West End. About thirteen years ago, I moved to America. I moved here to be an associate choreographer to Susan Stroman on The Producers.

TS: Let’s talk about The Mystery of Edwin Drood. How did you get involved as a collaborator on this revival?

WC: I’ve been friends with Scott Ellis for a number of years. Scott and I have the Susan Stroman connection. That’s the common link between us. Scott and I have done television together but never theatre. We worked on ABC’s Hope and Faith with Kelly Ripa. It was really fun. He and I have a great time. I’m a big fan of his. I was so happy when he called.

TS: What’s the first thing you have to do on a show like Drood?

WC: The first thing I do is read everything that’s available. I read the Charles Dickens novel, and I read every version of the musical that Rupert’s written. I’ve read every article that’s available to read. I’ve watched almost everything I’m able to watch. I try and do that early on so I’m not influenced close to my process. I’ll go and watch things six or nine months ahead of time and forget about them. And then, of course, I listen to the music. I’ve spent many hours in a rehearsal room with a rehearsal pianist playing through the score again and again and again and again.

TS: Tell us about your process.

WC: Scott and I do it together. We discuss everything. We’re trying constantly to develop the story through dance. We talk about each number at length, how we think it needs to be, how it fits into the story, what it needs to achieve in the scheme of things, whether it needs to stop the show or needs to be about the number.  Sometimes movement and dance is used to just keep the ball in the air. Or it is used to help with character development. It can also be an opportunity to tell the story. For instance, we’re developing the ballet into much more of a story piece. We’ve been writing a little outline for it so it will help develop character. We want to use the ballet to show the pursuit of Rosa Bud, having her appear and disappear. Scott and I always talk first and then I’ll go into the studio and start to work on the vocabulary and the style.... Read More →

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2012-2013 Season, A Conversation with, The Mystery of Edwin Drood


A Conversation with Director: Scott Ellis

Posted on: October 17th, 2012 by Roundabout


Ted Sod, Education Dramaturg, sat down with Director Scott Ellis to talk about his work on The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Ted Sod: Tell me how this production came together and why you wanted to direct it.

Scott Ellis: The idea of reviving The Mystery of Edwin Drood started a while ago when I was working with Rupert Holmes on the Broadway production of Curtains. He was a writer on that show and while we were talking about Curtains, Drood came up. I told him I fondly remembered it. I wondered why there hadn’t been a major revival of it. That’s how it began. I told Rupert that it seemed like the perfect time for a revival. We kept talking about it over the years and we finally got it scheduled for this season. We have looked at the scripts that were used for the Delacorte, Broadway and London productions, and we’re putting together a new version of the script and a song order that we want for this revival.

TS: What kind of research did you have to do in order to direct this show?

SE: We’ve done research on Dickens and his unfinished novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood.  The show takes place in a music hall in the 1800s, so we need to have a clear understanding of what was happening during that era in England. And the actors have to understand what it was like to be performing in a music hall at that period in time.

TS: Have you ever worked with Warren Carlyle, the choreographer, before?

SE: I’ve never collaborated with him on a theatre production before. I’ve known Warren for a very long time and love his work. The collaboration between the director and choreographer is most important in a musical. You really have to be on the same page. So far it’s been a really wonderful collaboration. He’s very creative.

TS: When you work with a choreographer, do you say, “I want this dance to feel like this” or do you let them go off and…

SE: I let them do what they do. We talk about the story, what the story is we’re trying to tell. It’s not about steps or my saying, “It should be like this or look like that.” It’s none of that. The choreographer needs to be very free to explore. We always talk about the sets, what’s going on in the story, what we have to work with, things like that. That’s what we’ve focused the most on so far. We’re very much involved with the sets and what they look like and what we’re doing visually because it’s going to be a huge part of how the choreography will ultimately manifest itself.... Read More →

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2012-2013 Season, A Conversation with, The Mystery of Edwin Drood

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