Fest Show Update: The Trouble With Doug

This month we chatted with Will Aronson and Daniel Maté, the writers of 2010 Festival Show The Trouble with Doug. Will and Daniel are now preparing for the show’s European Premiere with NAMT member Fredericia Teater in Denmark.

The last time we checked in with you both, you were getting ready for a 2014 Florida production of The Trouble with Doug. What work have you been doing on the show since that production?
In late 2015 we got a call from Victoria Clark, saying her schedule had an opening and would we like to reconvene and do some further work on the show together? Now, when Vicki Clark throws up the Bat-signal (Slug-signal?), you jump at the chance: we’d had such a great experience with her as our NAMT director and the timing felt right to revisit the project. Since then we’ve had a pair of readings with Vicki at the helm (a quickie and then a full 29-hour reading), with our main focus on refining the first twenty minutes of the show, and on really nailing the intended tone. 

In May, The Trouble with Doug will have its European debut at Fredericia Teater. How has preparing for this production been different from preparing for an American production? 
The main difference so far has been having to stop rewriting months in advance! In the past we’ve tinkered with script and songs well into the rehearsal process; this time we had to deliver a libretto back in December that the Danish translators could get started on. This has challenged us to make bolder storytelling choices, and has also been a great opportunity to let go and allow a team of amazingly talented artists to share creative ownership of the production.

What has made Fredericia a great partner in this stage of development?
Søren has a beautiful understanding of what it takes to develop a musical and bring it to production, and his team has ample experience bringing shows ‘across the pond.’ They’re resourceful and creative, their translation team is superb, and most of all, they just believe in this show and really get what we’re aiming for, artistically. It’s been an awesome collaboration.

What about this new production are you most excited about?
This will be the fullest production the show’s ever had, and there’s so much that’s new and exciting for us: a nine-piece orchestra playing Bruce Coughlin orchestrations; a creative design concept incorporating projections and LED screens; the chance to finally work with Vicki on a full production and see her vision come to life. (You really haven’t lived until you’ve seen Victoria Clark demonstrate slug movement to actors in rehearsals.)

Why should folks plan a trip to Denmark to check out the show?
Our hope is that anyone with a family, especially families that have lived through any sort of unexpected change, will feel a connection with this show. We’ve always seen the piece as having a magical quality—there’s plenty of comedy, a bit of Kafkaesque horror, but ultimately we’ve tried to infuse it with wonder at the mysteries of life. And all indications are that this production, thanks to the amazing team Søren and Vicki have assembled, is going to make good on that promise of musical theatre magic.

For more information, and to buy tickets, visit Fredericia Teater’s website.

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