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

April 8, 2009

Two Dream Musicals, One Season

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 4:44 pm

by Brian Zane, Charleston Stage Resident Actor 

When I found out that we were switching our last musical from Crazy for You to The Producers, I was thrilled!  Since I was little, Mel Brooks has been one of my favorite filmmakers of all time and The Producers is definitely up there with my favorite musicals of all time.  I thought to myself, “I get to do West Side Story and The Producers, two of my dream shows, in the same season!  Who could ask for anything more?”  (To quote the musical we are no longer doing). Though I have had a huge passion and drive to do both shows, preparing for the part of Riff (from West Side Story) was quite different from preparing for the part of Franz Liebkind (my part in The Producers).  Riff was from New York, like me, so all I had to do was turn up my New York accent a little bit.  Franz is from Germany, so I had to work on that accent a little harder.  Riff was a character who I could sympathize with who wanted to preserve his gang, but went a little too far.  Franz is a Nazi playwright who wrote a glorified play about Adolf Hitler.

My biggest challenge in West Side Story was learning all of the athletic dancing and fitting it into my body.  My biggest challenge in The Producers was taking a character with many exaggerated and unlikeable traits and making him likeable, if not two legs short of a chair.  Brooks has already done a lot of that work for me, but I have added some more bits and quirks to this already loony character.  The results have been fun to find and hopefully the audiences will enjoy Franz’s eccentricities!  It’s been a blast doing my two favorite musicals, and it’s great to be doing a musical comedy after so many serious plays.  I hope you enjoy the show as much as we’re going to be performing it.  It’s going to be VUNDERBAR!



 (Charleston Stage Resident Actor Brian Zane as Franz Liebkind)


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