“The Flick” Director Kenny Howard Answers 5 Questions

Coletyn Hentz, Marcellis Cutler, Daniel Cooksley and Jessica Hope Grossman in "The Flick"

This week Gen Y Productions brings a 4 week engagement of Annie Baker’s “The Flick” to the stage at the Alexis and Jim Pugh Theater at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. This marks the Florida premiere of the play which earned the 2013 Obie Award for Playwriting and the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.  “The Flick” runs June 17 through July 12.

Central Florida Theatre in Process’ John DiDonna asked the show’s director Kenny Howard to answer five questions:

Kenny Howard, director of "The Flick" playing at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts June 17-July 12

Kenny Howard, director of “The Flick” playing at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts June 17-July 12

JD: The production team you were part of is both Tony winning and Grammy nominated. Why the return to producing in Central Florida?

KH: For me it was about artistic vision and community. I went up for an AD job off-Broadway and to further my career as a director, yet ended up a managing member of a Tony Award-winning Broadway Producing company and a record label for Original Broadway Cast and Broadway artists’ cabaret albums.   Every moment was an amazing experience, but I needed to regroup and focus on what I actually wanted. That ended up being expression as an artist and a sense of community; both of which were things I had always felt I had here, so I came back for that purpose, as well as I just missed my family here in Central Florida. It was 17 years in the theatre community when I made the move to NYC, and I missed it horribly.  

 

JD: How does it feel being one of the first long-run shows in the Alexis and Jim Pugh Theater at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts? What are the risks? What are the benefits? (Okay, it is three parts but still one question!)

KH: Great question(s)! I had made a play to use the Pugh previously. I wanted in that space.

It is a gorgeous space that reminds me of the Jewel Box at the Signature Theatre in NYC.   Being a resident of Orlando almost 22 years, I was aware of the Pugh as the theater “for all lives,” (or whatever phrase they finally settled on), and I wanted to take them up on that.   I can’t tell you how it really feels until we load in on Sat (Note: June 13)., but I am a huge fan of the space and I’m excited as hell. The risks are many. Although not as expensive as first thought, it is still the most expensive venue of its kind in Central Florida, which requires a certain amount of attendance to be truly successful financially. AND, although not a producer for this production, I cannot help with my years of experience as a producer concern myself with that reality.

We are very fortunate to have a producer who not only rises to the challenge, but chose a play that challenges me, the cast, and crew, as well as the audiences. The benefits are that we are doing another production there in August. It is a musical that is over four times the size in cast and we have the benefit of acclimating ourselves to the space. Also, I believe in the vision of the Pugh that was first presented, and I hope that working with DPC for this project makes them amenable to doing the same for many local theatre companies. We are blessed to have a thriving theatrical community and I would like to see theatre companies follow suit and have more local productions take place there.

 

JD: Tell us about “The Flick”! What about this show will pull people into a live theatrical experience this summer?

KH: I can honestly say that personally I have never seen a show quite like “The Flick.” The setting of the play is inside an old movie house, that uses an old 35mm projector, and much like the theatre, the lives of the three lead characters are stuck in a rut. It is a story of the human spirit, change, heartache, yet very funny and extremely poignant. The audience is the screen and we watch the lives of 3 everyday people that we would normally pass in the theatre or on the street without a second glance. But in the movie house named “The Flick” we find ourselves immersed in three people doing their job and examining their lives and the need for connection. It is falls into a category of complete realism so these characters are not “performed,” as much as lived in by the fantastic cast.

 

JD: What is it like collaborating with the team of “The Flick”?

KH: This team is fantastic. Gen Y’s Managing Member Aaron Safer is amazing when it comes to artistic freedom, and he is a champion of the show, and can hustle. Chris Yakubchik as AD is another who provides great insight to the text. The cast collectively is so strong. Anastasia Kurtiak is a dream stage manager who keeps us all on track. Marcellis is a reserved man, but is bringing Avery to life in a beautiful way. Jessie Grossman is the bomb! She is a consummate professional and her Rose is truly lovely to watch. And then Daniel Cooksley is someone I have admired on the stage for years and the audience and we are extremely fortunate to have him breathe life into Sam. Coletyn is young, but he is bright and funny, and we are lucky to have him. Bonnie Sprung is our set designer and has out done herself for this one, and lastly Roy Brown, who I have used for most of my lighting design needs who in each instance has not only succeeded but gone above and beyond expectations. So as far as collaborating with this team…I’m very fortunate. J

 

JD: What is coming up next for Kenny Howard? Projects? Vacation?

KH: Next up in July is “Wanzie’s Court Ordered Therapy: Ladies of Eola Heights-Continued” at The Abbey which reunites Chris and I with Beth Marshall, Peg O’Keefe, Blue Star, Sam Singhaus and our newest cast member of the Locksdale tribe…Kevin Kelly. Then in August “Heathers: The Musical” we are back in the Pugh Theatre at DPC. In September I have BMP’s Play-in-a-Day, and the reboot of The Abbey’s Monday Night Cabaret Series, then in October “Bat Boy” at The Abbey. I do have another project in both the spring and summer of 2016, but it has not been announced yet. Vacation? What’s that? I will get to NYC whenever I can, and I will get to KY to visit my parents.

But mostly….”I can’t – I’m in rehearsal.”

 

Tickets range from $35 to $60 for the hilarious and heartrending “The Flick,” and are on sale now at DrPhillipsCenter.org.

 

– Interview and post courtesy of guest blogger John DiDonna of Central Florida Theatre in Process