Eric S. Kildow has directed many plays in town, most of them at Armstrong Atlantic State University, where he is a part–time theater instructor.
But The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is his first musical.
“I’ve worked on musicals before, as an actor, as a producing consultant – things of that nature – and I’ve always enjoyed working on them,” Kildow says. “And so when the opportunity presented itself to actually direct, I was quite looking forward to it. And it’s been a great experience.”
Spelling Bee is a free–wheeling , uptempo, Tony–nominated musical set in a middle school in Anytown, U.S.A. Six adults plays the bee contestants.
“They say that 90 percent of it is in the casting,” exalts Kildow, “and I lucked out there and got the cast I wanted.”
The show opens Thursday, Nov. 11 at the AASU Jenkins Hall auditorium, and runs through the 21st.
For Kildow, it’s been a learning experience. “You do have to look at things from a slightly different point of view, because a musical doesn’t necessarily follow all of the same conventions that your straight plays do,” he says. “So you have to learn to work and play with those conventions.
“The really nice thing about that is that musicals are run by a staff, in a way that straight plays are not. You have your director, but you also have your music director, who is handling all of the singing and the music. And if you have any dance, you have a choreographer as well. So there’s a lot more of a collaborative steering committee.”
We’re well into the community theater season now, and two shows that began last weekend are continuing. In Savannah, City Lights’ production of founder Jim Holt’s comic mystery Three Picassos is onstage this weekend at the City S.P.A.C.E. on Henry Street; meanwhile, the Tybee Arts Association’s Steel Magnolias (the verbally rich Robert Harling dramedy about the close friendship of six Southern women) continues at the Tybee Arts Center. Holt himself is directing Three Picassos, while Renee DeRossett and Kim Trammell share directing duties on Steel Magnolias.
• The New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players are in town with their touring production of The Mikado. It’s onstage at the Lucas Theatre Friday, Nov. 12.
• At SCAD’s Mondanaro Theatre, Improv!, directed by David Storck, is onstage at 8 p.m. Nov. 11–13, and at 3 p.m. Nov. 14. It’s a program of improvisation and sketch comedy.