Jules Aaron has directed shows at GRT including The Paris Letter (a major critical success) and That Lovin’ Feelin' (the Righteous Brothers musical that was extended and broke all house records). Aaron is the winner of over 40 awards for direction around the country (including LA Drama Critics Award, Garland Award, Bay Area Critics Award, Philadelphia Critics Award, Utah Theatre Critics Award, etc. He is bi-coastal, working frequently in fifteen California theatres including South Coast Repertory, ICT, McCoy/Rigby, Pasadena Playhouse, Odyssey Theatre (most recently directed the acclaimed Two Fisted Love), TheatreWorks, Colony Theatre, Falcon Theatre and Theatre 40; In New York at The Public Theatre (personally developed plays with Joe Papp), Soho Rep, the Unit Theatre; regionally at the Humana Festival (Actors Theatre of Louisville), Philadelphia Theatre Co., Utah Shakespearean Theatre among many others. Aaron is currently in rehearsal for Deathtrap expected to open at Group rep Friday April 6.
When did you have your foray into directing, and was it easy for you to take the leap from acting?
I was a Ph.D. student at NYU (in theatre, theatre history and dramaturgy) in the latter 60s/early 70s. Richard Schechner was my mentor. His company, The Performance Group, was doing groundbreaking environmental theatre. Also, The Living Theater, The Wooster Group were also evolving. (The great Jerzy Grotowski brought productions). And playwrights like Sam Shepard John Guare, Lansford Wilson, and Leonard Melfi were writing amazing one-act plays. I was very stimulated to create my own work. My wife and I had a large loft on Tompkins Square. Influenced by all this brilliant material, I began my own voice in theatre. My first New York production, Genet's “Deathwatch,” was reviewed favorably by the Village Voice. And my work grew from those homemade beginnings.
I moved to Los Angeles to head the MFA Directing Program at CalArt, and continued my work with small theaters. My first Equity jobs were at South Coast Repertory, and Pasadena Playhouse, and from there I went on to work in New York and major regional theaters.
Talk about a recent directorial experience that turned out more gratifying than expected.
I took over the direction of Two Fisted Love at the Odyssey two months ago. Then I left the play to do a reading in N.Y., as well as because of having creative differences with the producers. 10 days before opening, they needed someone to pull the show together. It was a new play I loved with a great cast, and I gave it my best shot. I think very successfully!
Tell us about Deathtrap.
Deathtrap is one of the three or four great thrillers. Ira Levin's writing is a beautifully constructed journey with laughs as well as scares. It has great humor, thrills and keeps the audience on their toes. It deals with a famous playwright who has not had a hit play and agrees to help a former student with his brilliant new play. Deception and murder result.
What would you like the audience to take away with them, having seen the play?
I would like the audience to take away from their two hours at GRT a trip analogous to a thrilling roller coaster ride, having observed the results of obsessive love and the dangers of acting on your thoughts.
What are you currently working on, or preparing to direct?
My next projects are, another wonderful thriller, Wait Until Dark at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and the charming whimsical play Mr. Pim Passes By at Theatre 40. We are also having yet another workshop of the Broadway bound musical, I Will, I Can, the story of Sammy Davis, Jr. in New York in June.
Deathtrap runs April 6 – May 20. Fridays and Saturdays 8 pm; Sunday matinees 2 pm. Talk-back Sundays April 15 and April 28. General Admission: $25.00. Seniors & Students with ID: $20.00. Groups 10+: $15.00. Buy tickets/Info: www.thegrouprep.com or (818) 763-5990. Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd. North Hollywood.