Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Actor/director/writer Michael Arden needs no introduction. He was nominated for a second Tony this past season for directing Once On This Island and is the first Artist.In.Residence at the Wallis Annenberg Theatre here in Los Angeles where he has directed Spring Awakening among other productions. In our conversation he talks about directing Annie at the Hollywood Bowl and why the show is still a popular revival.

What is the most interesting aspect of Annie for you as a director?

I am most excited by the prospect of doing something that is incredibly beloved on such a large scale and with such talent. It's a show that almost everyone has a personal connection with, so I want to honor that feeling as well as shed a little new light on the material. 

Why do families everywhere continue to love it so?

I think there’s something incredibly unifying about the forging of an unconventional family. So many families are made by love and out of a sense of moral responsibility, as opposed to simply blood relation. It’s a story about love being bigger than political, social or circumstancial differences. 

What challenges do you foresee for the Bowl stage?

It’s enormous! There are very intimate book scenes and moments that I want to make sure come across as honest and true, all while making sure the audience at the back of the Bowl feel like they are in the scene as well. 

What are you adding or taking away in this production?

You’ll have to come and see! I am hoping to reflect back, with this production, the incredibly beautiful and diverse tapestry that is Los Angeles. 

Talk about your casting and about your individual cast members.

It’s really an embarrassment of riches here. We have Broadway vets, comedic geniuses, bold new talent, and a spectacular bunch of kids. I can’t wait to get in a room with them all. 

Congrats on your Tony nomination! If you remember, I told you you would have won a Tony for playing Quasimodo if Hunchback had gone to Broadway. Now I hear you are leaving acting behind. Tell me that is not true. You are too good to abandon acting, even though you are an excellent director.

 I haven’t been getting the calls as much these days for acting roles. Perhaps I was spoiled in playing Quasi, who is such a layered and beautiful character. I would absolutely perform again. Let’s see if anyone asks. I’ve been fortunate to stay incredibly busy as a director the past few years, and that’s one way to play all of the roles at once. 

What else is in the wind? What's up for you at the Wallis? Any singing engagements/cabaret performances planned?

I am thrilled to be developing a new version of A Christmas Carol starring the incomparable Jefferson Mays at the Geffen this Fall.

Annie will take place at the Bowl on July 27, 28 and 29th. It will be helmed by director Michael Arden ... and conducted by Todd Ellison, and choreographed by Eamon Foley. Annie's book is by Thomas Meehan, music by Charles Strouse, and lyrics by Martin Charnin.

Annie, the classic story of a young girl overcoming adversity, features a beloved score of hits (including "Tomorrow" and "It's the Hard Knock Life") and is a delightful experience for the entire family.

Subscriptions and single tickets for performances during the Hollywood Bowl 2018 summer season are available at, 323 850 2000, or in person at the Hollywood Bowl Box Office.

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