This month, we catch up with Søren Møller, Artistic and Managing Director at Fredericia Theater and New Works Development Center Uterus in Denmark, about their current production of 2013 Festival show, The Sandman, by Robert Taylor and Richard Oberacker, and their upcoming production of 2012 Festival show, Bleeding Love by Jason Schafer, Harris Doran and Arthur Lafrentz Bacon. Both shows will be performed in rep as part of Fredericia Theater’s season.
Drawn from the more nightmarish fantasy of E.T.A. Hoffmann, author of “The Nutcracker,” comes a new and darkly comic musical tale—The Sandman. When Maria, the wife of an ingenious German clockmaker named Albert Strauss, engages a new nanny, Fraulein Kaeseschweiss, to care for the two children, Nathaniel and Theresa, a series of bizarre and unnatural events begins to unfold. As Theresa falls mysteriously ill, a flamboyant and unconventional physician, Dr. Copelius, is summoned upon the nanny’s recommendation. The doctor comes with a young ward in tow, Clara Stahlbaum, recently orphaned after her entire family was incinerated in an inexplicable Christmas tree fire. And as the Strauss family is thrust ever deeper into chaos, the sinister and Machiavellian forces at play are gradually revealed—forces from which only the children may be able to save them.
It’s always night, it’s always cold and nothing ever grows. A cloistered teen cellist must find a live rose in order to thaw the frozen heart of the rebel punk next door. An eclectic score, ranging from Broadway to classical to rock, beats within this wickedly demented, post-apocalyptic musical comedy.
You are preparing something that is almost never heard of: two world premieres of two new musicals in rep, which happen to both be past NAMT Festival shows. How did you come to the idea of doing the shows in rep?
Getting people to see new material is not always easy, and being situated 100 minutes out of Copenhagen, I think it is attractive for more people to take a trip here to see two new shows in a day. Also—having specialized in digital set design, we can shift the setup for the shows much faster than with a more traditional setup. And seeing almost the same cast performing two very different new musicals in one day is a real treat. Also—how often do you get to hear two brand new Bruce Coughlin orchestrations in a day?
What are the benefits of doing these shows together?
We can do a one-act (Bleeding Love) and still have bar sales—haha! No, seriously, it is actually somewhat more cost-efficient. 50 percent of the cast is the same and 50 percent of the band and the entire tech staff is the same. But, more importantly, we get to show two uniquely different and very exciting new shows. Each of them clearly pointing forward in showing that the art form is evolving and exciting to a broad audience base.
What drew you to each of these shows that made them feel right for your audience?
Both shows are extremely clever, edgy and have very, very exciting scores. They both have WOW-factor.
The Sandman has already opened to rave reviews. What has audience response been like?
Yes—it has gotten top 5-star reviews across the board—from the best and most prominent reviewers here, so that is very, very exciting. Audiences love it—it is a show that has many layers and can be enjoyed without any preparation and enjoyed immensely if you know your E.T.A Hoffmann and classical composers with a very distinct twist of Weill—yet totally original in tone.
It is genuinely scary, thrilling and exciting. And has a harsh, dry, sarcastic humor that plays really well here. I think it will almost anywhere though.
Bleeding Love is in the wings. What has the pre-buzz been like for that show?
It is going to look and feel like no other show we have ever done. Very iconic and graphic and funny. But with tons of heart. And vomit and blood. But aesthetically beautiful. Telling a post-apocalyptic fairytale is truly an adventure where all the creatives get to make up a new unified visual language. And hey—this score soars and will stick with whoever is exposed to it forever.
Denmark is not that far from the eastern United States. Why should people try to come see these two shows in rep?
No—I actually make that trip 5-8 times a year. I think people will leave inspired from here. Great musical theatre is happening all over the world today, and we have specialized in new works, producing new musicals only. Also I think that the way we produce might inspire many—as it is very much cutting-edge technology. But done on reasonable budgets. Let me know if you are coming so that I may set up the grand tour. I would love it if we can make more rolling world premieres happen, thus securing second and third productions of shows—that would be truly exciting and could potentially make a big difference to future shows.
For more information about the Danish productions of The Sandman and Bleeding Love, visit the Fredericia Theater’s website.