After a successful opening weekend, the cast and crew of the 70th annual Dolphin Show, 42nd Street, are already getting ready for next weekend’s shows. Communication senior Emily Maltby, the show’s director, spoke with NBN about the rehearsal process and what 42nd Street means to her.
North by Northwestern: Why was 42nd Street chosen for this year’s Dolphin Show? What made this show stand out as the one that would be right for such a huge production?
Emily Maltby: This is our 70th year, which is a big deal, so we were looking for a show that was a big celebration of theater itself. [42nd Street] is a show about the creation of a musical and all the people behind it, so we thought it would be appropriate.
NBN: How and when did you become director? How long have you been working on the play?
EM: I became involved in May of last year, when I went through a series of interviews with the Arts Alliance and the show’s producers. I’ve worked on the Dolphin Show the last three years, as long as I’ve been here — but I’ve been working on this particular show for nine months. We picked our whole staff in October, and we’ve been rehearsing since November.
NBN: What has your job involved on a day-to-day basis? How many hours did you put in every day?
EM: On a normal week I’d rehearse with the cast six days a week, about four to six hours a day, but in January those hours got a lot longer. It’s mostly staging scene work and dances, and helping everyone learn the rhythm of different songs. Once we moved our rehearsals into Cahn [Auditorium], I started working with set design. The rehearsal process is really all about putting the action of show on its feet, and trying to build what actors are doing on stage.
NBN: What’s the single most challenging part about directing a show as huge as 42nd Street?
EM: I think the scale of it makes it the most challenging — this is the largest cast I’ve ever directed before. Coordinating 36 bodies and making sure they’re all telling the same, that they each have a role in the story, is really hard. We have to make sure the storytelling is cohesive and all works together — a lot of it is in the movement of the play, making sure the movement of the piece is moving towards the general story. We have to coordinate 36 different stories, even the ones who don’t have lines.
NBN: What is it about musical theater that makes so much work worth it for you?
EM: Theater has a power to move your audience like no other art form does, and that’s what 42nd Street does and that’s what theater means to me. 42nd Street can move the audience in ways you don’t even understand — all people have personal responses, and my job is to draw responses to audience. Moving the audience, having an audience feel something in response to what they’re seeing — that’s what makes it all worth it for me as a director. You really just have to see it to understand.
42nd Street will be showing at Cahn Auditorium at 8:00 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 27 and Saturday, Jan. 28. Tickets cost $25 and are available for purchase.