Duluth Playhouse puts fresh face in director's chairWhen Luke Moravec auditioned for a part in “The Ladies Man,” he faced a director who wasn’t familiar with his work in “The Secret Garden,” and hadn’t caught “Smudge” or “Hamlet.”
By: Christa Lawler, Duluth News Tribune
When Luke Moravec auditioned for a part in “The Ladies Man,” he faced a director who wasn’t familiar with his work in “The Secret Garden,” and hadn’t caught “Smudge” or “Hamlet.”
Moravec was a blank slate and said he relished the anonymity of a tryout in front of Anthony Nelson, a stranger.
“I realized it was super fun auditioning for someone who had never seen me before,” said Moravec, who scored the role of Etienne in the Duluth Playhouse’s production. “I wasn’t going in with any reputation.”
The Playhouse brought in Nelson, a touring theater professional, to direct the French farce by Charles Morey, adapted from “Tailleur pour dames” by Georges Feydeau. It is a story of newlyweds, sexual misadventures and slamming doors — lots and lots of slamming doors. There are mayhem and misunderstandings. The sort of innuendos that are overheard by Mr. Furley in the 1970-80s sitcom “Three’s Company.” It opens at 7:30 p.m. today at the Playhouse.
Nelson graduated from the University of Iowa with a master’s degree in directing in 2010. Since then, he has worked at six theaters in the Midwest, including a gig at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis where he was the assistant director for “Arsenic and Old Lace” this past summer.
Playhouse executive director Christine Seitz said she wasn’t shopping for new directors. But Nelson was in town with a friend who was pitching a script for consideration at the Play Ground, and he expressed an interest in directing something at the Playhouse.
Seitz interviewed him and deemed him a good fit for the theater. She signed on with Nelson for the upcoming production of “The Sound of Music.” Then, when the original director fell through for “The Ladies Man,” Seitz offered that to him, too.
She said it is good to mix things up once in a while.
“After a while (the actors) get used to working with the same directors,” she said. “It’s really good to have someone who is fresh and new and brings in a different style and approach.”
Nelson began acting in community theater in Arizona, then got into an acting program at the University of Southern California. He kicked around working in film, but said he preferred the stage.
“What I realized is that I love the process of theater,” Nelson said. “I don’t like being on a film set. I enjoy the process of rehearsals for a play, starting at the beginning and going to the end and knowing how that character changes in real time is fascinating for me and rewarding.”
He was involved with Casa 0101, a small theater outside of Los Angeles. Nelson directed “Little Red,” a political adaptation of the fairy tale that spoke to immigration issues. The show got a thumbs up from “LA Weekly,” where Nelson was given props by a reviewer for making good use of a small space.
Nelson said it was an epiphany that brought him back to the Midwest.
“Midwest audiences are just as important as West Coast or East Coast audiences,” he said.
Seitz said she has had a chance to catch Nelson in action with “The Ladies Man.”
“I think Anthony is a terrific director,” she said. “He’s meticulous. He’s very detailed. He does in-depth research for his shows, which is important. He’s got a strong process. He’s the type of director who likes to be involved with the entire process, beyond the actors on the stage. Anthony has a strong vision for the set, costumes, lighting and sound. He’s all-encompassing and enjoys making sure that all of these components are telling the same story.”