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Julian Wiles, Founder and Producing Artistic Director
Marybeth Clark, Associate Artistic Director

April 13, 2009

Choreographing The Producers

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 1:17 pm

by Michael Lasris, Charleston Stage Resident Actor 

Ever since I was 13 years old, I have been choreographing dancers for various reasons. I started my choreographic career as a junior choreographer for an annual cabaret at the Rodef Sholom Temple back home in Virginia. I progressed up the ranks until I was the head choreographer as a senior in high school. I then went off to college where I choreographed a few dances for showcases, but never did I get the chance to choreograph a large full-production musical… until now. The Producers marks the first full-scale musical I have choreographed!

I couldn’t have asked for a better cast and production team to work with! Going into this experience, as with any choreographic endeavor, you never know the level of dance ability or willingness of the cast. Luckily, this cast has risen to every single challenge that we have offered. For example, many of the dancers in the ensemble have ZERO tap dance experience and two of the largest production numbers (“I Wanna Be a Producer” and “Springtime for Hitler”) are tap heavy. Having watched their progress over the rehearsal period, I think everyone will be quite surprised with the high level of tap proficiency on the stage.

Perhaps one of the most unique challenges of this show comes from the genius of the original choreographer, Susan Stroman. In the song “Along Came Bialy,” Max Bialystock (played brilliantly by Brian Bogstad) finds himself in the imaginative Little Old Lady Land, which is flooded with all of his financial backers. Stroman saw fit to include a unique prop in the dance break of the song: walkers. So, Sarah Claire Smith (Co-Choreographer/Ulla) and I decided to continue this idea, which resulted in hours of fun rehearsals and a brand new appreciation for these delightfully insane props.

This experience has been SO much fun! Not only are the dances fun and challenging, but also the process has been a wonderfully creative progression of ideas. Because of the absurdity of the show, the choreography must match. So this no-holds-barred style of production has allowed me to truly experiment and grow. I hope everyone enjoys the dancing as much as I (and Sarah Claire) have enjoyed creating it.



(Far Left:  Charleston Stage Resident Actor Michael Lasris as Roger Debris) 



(Charleston Stage Resident Actor Michael Lasris as Roger Debris performing in “Springtime For Hitler”) 


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