by Sarah Claire Smith, Charleston Stage Resident Actor
Michael and I would love to take all the credit for our brilliant choreography… but we just can’t. In the year 2001, the lush mind of Susan Stroman created some of the most ingenious, clever, and simulating choreography Broadway had ever seen in Mel Brooks The Producers. Ms. Stroman was nominated for Best Choreography and Best Direction and WON THEM BOTH!
I once did a research paper on Stroman (“Stro” as the call her in the biz). I first experienced her genius in high school when I saw the movie Crazy For You that PBS televised. Coming from a dance background I was STUNNED by the dazzling choreography. I get so excited when I see serious dance being incorporated into modern musical theatre. The thing that caught my eye the first go around was the way she incorporated props into the dance numbers. Crazy For You is set in Nevada in the 30’s and she uses telephones, mining pales, and tin roofs as aids to her choreography. She takes items from the time or place and weaves them magically into the production numbers. She also always has a tap number or two and who doesn’t just smile when they hear those tippy tappy toes?
This is even more remarkably done in The Producers. The biggest show stopper and laugh for the audience in the “Little Old Lady Land” number. It is a tap number with 15 old ladies and their walkers! GENIUS! Also the champagne glasses in “I Wanna Be a Producer” and the ball and chains in “Prisoners of Love” are all from the original production straight from the fertile mind of Ms. Stroman. The woman knows how to take musical theatre dance to the next level and it is nothing less than inspiring. Her dedication and thinking outside of the box have truly sparked a creative flame in my own work and her work gives my work another level of passion. Michael and I had a blast recreating our own version of her original ideas! Greatness truly does inspire greatness.
I have also had a delightful time playing Ulla. She is a trip! It’s taken some serious mind over matter to breathe, belt, and dance through “When You Got it, Flaunt It.” It’s been a wonderful growing experience. And when else do you get to play a loveable Swedish blonde bombshell? I would never have imagined myself in the role but it has been such fun and I’m very thankful for the experience. I am honestly very thankful for every role, every show, and every person I have met in my ten months here with Charleston Stage! And this is the perfect show to go out with a bang! I hope you can make it to see this remarkable display of musical theatre comedy at its best!!
(Charleston Stage Resident Actor Sarah Claire Smith as Ulla in the musical number “When You Got It, Flaunt It”)