By Jackie DiFerdinando
Welcome to the Winter/Spring 2020 edition of Artsline!
Last week, I had the absolute pleasure of seeing New York City Center’s Encores production of Mack and Mabel. Mack and Mabel, a 1974 Broadway flop by the late Jerry Herman of Hello Dolly fame, follows the dramatic, romantic entanglement between silent movie pioneer Mack Sennett, played by Douglas Sills, and his first great discovery and muse, the comedienne Mabel Normand, played by Alexandra Socha. The production was brilliant! Given the very brief rehearsal period, I was blown away by the performances, staging, choreography, and full orchestra.
For those of you who don’t know, New York City Center’s Encores series celebrates the tradition of American musical theater with revivals featuring original orchestrations as they were meant to be heard. With only a brief rehearsal period, these classics are presented for one week only. Typically, the productions they choose to mount are considered “hidden gems” of American musical theatre, having only briefly been on Broadway or Off-Broadway and have rarely, if ever, been produced since. For a musical theatre lover like myself, seeing these forgotten shows is a wonderful opportunity.
The Encores series actually inspired my brother and I to start our own theatre company in Philadelphia that also aims to produce little-known “hidden gems” of musical theatre. De Novo Theatre Company had its inaugural season in 2019 where we presented Olympus On My Mind (a 1986 Off-Broadway show) and ended with the hilarious and wildly-successful Disenchanted! (a 2014 Off-Broadway show). So many current offerings in mainstream theatre are based on pop culture (movies, TV shows, music albums) or revivals of classic, well-known shows, with little variety or originality that De Novo Theatre Company aims to reverse this trend by bringing new life to little-known plays and musicals through concerts and productions with limited staging using local talent. With a spotlight on these “hidden gems” the De Novo Theatre Company welcomes audiences to open their minds and be educated and entertained.
I am fortunate to be attending Drexel University during the early stages of starting this theatre company. As De Novo's acting Business Manager, my classes at Drexel University’s Arts Administration & Museum Leadership Program have helped me to learn all the ins and outs of running a successful nonprofit theatre company. Each class has offered insight to new topics I must consider when starting a theatre company. For the various class projects, I have used De Novo Theatre Company as my model organization so my project research and outcomes can be directly applied to De Novo Theatre Company.
I am so happy and grateful to be here at Drexel University. For my remaining three quarters, I look forward to learning more theoretical knowledge and practical skills to apply to any real life job situations I may encounter going forward.
ArtsLine editor 2019-2020