Crowd Pleasers

In 2012, performers/producers Kelly Fouchi and Gary Rucker took over what was once the staid Rivertown Repertory Theater and filled its seasons with splashy musicals, farcical plays, original works and plenty of programming for children. Shrek the Musical (Sept. 12-27) kicks off the new season, which also includes One Man, Two Guvnors; A Christmas Carol; The Will Rogers Follies; the New Orleans nostalgic When Ya Smilin’; and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. We talked to Fouchi, whose daughters and husband also perform, about the season.

How did you choose the shows for the upcoming season?  We always have a running list of shows we want to produce … We go back to that list every year, factor in newly released titles and decide which shows fit together and complement one another.

We like to offer a diverse line up, mixing new titles, a classic and a local original, but they all must be crowd-pleasing. …

Artistic fulfillment is also a factor. We want to present titles that will excite us as a company as well as our audiences.

Over the last two seasons, we have enjoyed sold-out runs for most of our shows. When we watch an oversold crowd leap to their feet and cheer at the end of a show, we’ve done our job.

How does one access an authentic Shrek costume? There are actually five ogres in Shrek as well as all the fairy tale characters. Before we officially decided to produce Shrek, we did a lot of homework on the costuming, make-up and puppetry.

Between our costume designer, our make-up designer and a Broadway costumes rental company, the costumes are an equal mix of our own original design and construction, some rented pieces and purchased prosthetics. The costume and make-up plot for this show, as you can imagine, is extremely detailed and lengthy.

Last season you produced Gypsy. Do you ever find yourself being a Mama Rose-esque stage mother? Oh gosh, I hope not – look how Louise and June turned out. … If our daughters decide they want to be a part of a show, we help them prepare for the audition so they can feel confident and do their best. … When my daughters are cast in a show, I purposefully stay in the background so they can feel like it’s their thing. The first thing I ask them when I pick them up from rehearsal is “Did you have fun?”

This summer, I took my youngest daughter to the Annie National Tour auditions in New York City. It was a demanding process, and out of 400 girls she made it to the final two girls being considered for the role of Molly. I was so impressed with how she handled it all like a pro. Having spent three eight-hour days in a room full of stage moms, I feel confident in saying, “I’m no Mama Rose, but I can spot ’em a mile away.”

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