Students, recent graduates, and seasoned alumni from UW Musical Theater Program and UW School of Drama alike are taking the Seattle theatre scene by the reins; and they’re navigating through it artfully, thoughtfully, passionately, and victoriously. A wonderful example of this is being demonstrated in the production of Kiss Me, Kate that is currently running through the end of April at Seattle Musical Theater. UW Musical Theater students Mikko Jaun, Mackenzie Platt, Tia Petersen, Anna Vizzare, MT alumnae Hannah Rae-Knapp Jenkins and Camrynne Sullivan are all performing onstage while UW Drama students Sandra Bobman and Anna Saepan masterfully work backstage as Stage Manager and Assistant Stage Manager. And last but certainly not least, Megan Brewer: UW School of Drama alumni who has been fearlessly directing Kiss Me, Kate.
With such a high density of creatives from University of Washington performing, choreographing, managing, and directing together, we were curious to get some inside perspective on the whole process. In a small interview with Megan Brewer, she tells us about her theatre history and her experience directing some fellow UW Dawgs:
Tell us a little about you!
Brewer: I’m originally from Marysville, Washington, which is a medium, mostly residential town north of Seattle. There wasn’t any theatre in town growing up, so the closest I got was seeing high school performances and taking drama classes in school and at the community college where I did Running Start. Luckily, Seattle is a fantastic location for theatre, so when I moved to the city for school, I had so many resources at my fingertips I hardly knew where to start. I knew I loved theatre coming in, but I didn’t think majoring in it was a real possibility until I took Drama 251, the first in the acting class series. After that, I think I realized that I didn’t have any choice BUT to major in theatre – it was right where I belonged.
What did your training and time here at UW consist of?
Brewer: I majored in Drama at University of Washington and spent a lot of time taking a variety of classes in everything from directing to stage management to sound design in order to make sure I had a well-rounded approach to theatre. During my time at UW, I was heavily involved with the Undergraduate Theater Society, where I served as Creative Development Director and worked on several different shows, including directing Hamlet my senior year. I also spent a lot of time with UW’s musical theatre club, UW Stage Notes, and ended up directing Urinetown for them my senior year as well.
What lead you to work with Seattle Musical Theater on directing Kiss Me Kate?
Brewer: After I graduated, I saw a post from SMT on Theatre Pudget Sound’s website about needing designers. I went out on a limb and asked if they needed directors as well, got an interview, and asked to assistant direct/dramaturg their fall production of Sweeney Todd, which was directed by SMT’s Artistic Director – and through that, ended up getting an offer to direct Kiss Me, Kate. I wanted to work on it specifically so I could try my hand at addressing the misogyny of the script which ended up being the entire focus for all of us; to see how far we could push and challenge the sexism without outright changing the script. It’s been a really interesting and empowering task, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to take it on.
What has the process been like working with the current/past UW Drama and MT students?
Brewer: It’s great getting the chance to work with people I trained with (or at the very least people with similar training) because that shared background gives us a shorthand for communicating with each other. That being said, it’s also wonderful to just see everyone doing what they loved and having the chance to grow with each other. Despite the shared training, everyone has a different way of working. It’s so much fun getting to figure out how we collaborate best with each other and discovering new processes and tactics as artists.
How do you feel in general about UW Drama and Musical Theater scene expanding to the professional level? What does this say about the programs here?
Brewer: I think it’s a testament to the rigor of the programs and the level of professionalism and ambition they operate under. During dance call, I remember our choreographer (who happened to be a UW computer science alum!) remarking on the level of dance talent coming out of UW – it’s been something both creative team and audience members have made comments about; how successful UW students are on stage. It’s also great on a personal level watching all of my peers do these amazing things – like, people I know from school are out there at every theatre in town, working as actors, stage managers, directors, designers, and so much more.
As described by Seattle Musical Theatre’s website, “Kiss Me Kate is the charming story that follows two musical theatre actors -once married, now divorced – as they star together in a Broadway-bound musical version of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Soon, tensions mount and tempers flare, until it seems no amount of acting can save this show. But when two gangsters arrive to settle an old score, success becomes a matter of survival! Filled with slapstick humor and classic songs like ‘Wunderbar’ and ‘So in Love’, along with sizzling dance numbers like ‘Too Darn Hot’, it’s no wonder Kiss Me, Kate became Cole Porter’s biggest hit.”
Catch the show through April 30th, 2017! For more info and tickets click the link…
All photos courtesy of Jeff Carpenter.