If you remember Jeremy Lapp at age five, performing in “Pete’s Dragon,” or CCT’s “The Wizard of Oz,” you’re most likely one of his best friends. And if you’re one of his best friends, you know that the CYT San Diego Alum is currently laboring on Broadway. Lapp’s life is anything but anti-climatic- having traveled coast-to-coast this past year, he now resides in New York City working as an Assistant Director for “Bonnie & Clyde.”
I recently interviewed Lapp about “Bonnie & Clyde,” NYC, and his experience with CYT. The show itself got its start at La Jolla Playhouse in the Fall of 2009, where interestingly enough, both the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune gave it less than stellar reviews, said Lapp. It took some time to tighten up the production, but now word of mouth for Bonnie & Clyde on Broadway is gaining momentum.
The opening night for “Bonnie and Clyde” is December 1st. I’ve read that The Huffington Post calls the production “a stunner.” Is that true?
“Bonnie and Clyde” is truly a beautiful production from beginning to end. It’s a throwback to the original musicals of the past. It isn’t based on the 1960 movie, it’s not a revival, and it doesn’t feature a big Hollywood name in the lead role. At its core it’s simply a new musical, based on real people, a clear book, with a great score by Frank Wildhorn and stunning direction by Jeff Calhoun. It also features two young up and coming stars who are sure to leave their mark on Broadway.
Have the previews been a success?
Our previews (33 in total) have been great! Full, responsive audiences and the word of mouth on the street is very strong. The big reviews (New York Times and Variety) will start to trickle in after opening night, December 1st. The show has been an incredibly rewarding journey and has resulted in my Broadway debut. And for that, I will be forever grateful!
What was the audience reception of “Bonnie and Clyde” at the La Jolla Playhouse?
The Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune both critiqued the show, “not enough promise….” Don’t get me wrong, a lot of friends in the business came and raved about the show. There was definitely potential. Luckily, we have a great group of producers who believe in the show and its collaborators. So they pushed the show forward for a Fall 2010 run at the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota, Florida. Scenes were dropped, characters were tightened, and half of the score was replaced, but we opened in Florida with a buzz about New York. The great thing about Frank Wildhorn (music), Don Black (lyrics), Ivan Menchell (book) and Jeff Calhoun (director) is that they never stopped working. Even when we got to New York, everyone was fully behind the piece and kept tightening to make it better!
Tell me why you adore working in NYC.
I have been coming out to New York every other year for the last ten years. There is something special about this city that you can’t find anywhere else! It’s a horse carriage ride thru Central Park, FAO Schwartz, a gyro from a food cart, people watching in the subway, taxi rides (don’t get me started) and a city that eats, sleeps and breathes the Arts. Nothing can match the feeling of walking to rehearsal on 42nd street, bundled in a jacket and scarf then heading over to the theatre, going thru the stage door and working on a Broadway stage. It’s easily been one of the best experiences of my life and I look forward to working on Broadway for many years to come!
You recently tweeted, “According to the League of American Theaters, a ‘heavy’ theatergoer is someone who goes 4-5 times a year. Hate to think what that makes me.” Explain.
I find that particular statistic quite amusing, and that’s a study led by the League of American Theaters. I personally see 4-5 shows a month and I have to pick and choose. I wish more people would choose to go and see live theatre.
Are you disappointed with American’s perception with theatre?
I wouldn’t say that I’m disappointed with America’s perception of theatre. Broadway is a billion dollar industry and the numbers seem to be rising each year. Too often, we forget what theatre is supposed to do. To allow the actors and audience a window into the society in which we live. Present a forum where people can gather and talk about the issues that have been presented throughout the night. I am interested in theatre that can move an audience. Working on material with integrity, you have the opportunity to literally impact the lives of thousands of people.
You recently directed “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” for CCT VanPort. It was their first CCT show ever. Please tell all…
I was fortunate to spend last summer in Vancouver, Washington working with Kristi Foster, their wonderful new Artistic Director, in mounting their first ever CCT production. I received a phone call from Justin Parks, a dear friend from my time in CYT, who had asked me if I would be interested in helping them start.
What was your spin on the direction?
The great thing about “Joseph” is that it’s one of those shows where you can re-imagine and put your own spin on the classic biblical story. I used the concept of a dream expo where a team of inspirational speakers aptly named the “Dream Team” came to speak and encourage the audience to daydream, giving them permission to visualize what they would like their life to be like. From there, the narrator took the audience back to biblical times and led them thru the story of Joseph, his family and one very loud coat
You’ve been involved with CYT since you were five. What was your first CYT show?
I joined CYT when I was five and was part of the first graduating class of Our Gang with Janie Russell. In fact we were so young when we started that they created Our Gang 2 because we had done all the classes they had to offer at the time. My first CYT show was “Pete’s Dragon” in East County.
Did you aspire to direct on Broadway at that age, or did you have other goals?
At that early age, I don’t think I necessarily had aspirations for working on Broadway or directing, but now if you look back at those early years, there were definitely signs that pointed towards that. In pre-school I would bring buckets of costumes from home and would dress up my fellow classmates and direct homemade versions of musicals for parent night! I also had a miniature stage at home that I would create sets and costumes for my play-mobile, and re-stage the shows that my Grandmother would take me to see.
I performed in over 100 musicals with CYT, CCT, FAME, STARLIGHT and LAMBS PLAYERS from the time I was five until I turned eighteen, and graduated out. I started directing and teaching for CYT and was doing it as a hobby as I went to school for Graphic Design (parents convinced me not to get a degree in performing arts). It wasn’t until I was in Chicago (in the Spring of 2008) directing Jon Lorenz’ original musical, “Alice in Wonderland” for CYT Chicago that I decided to pursue directing theatre professionally. While I was in Chicago, I got hired to work as an intern at the La Jolla Playhouse after three years of applying for the program. Within two weeks of rehearsals, I was bumped to Assistant Director on “Xanadu.” It pays to be persistent!
If you could give some advice to future Broadway hopefuls, what would you say?
Learn how to work with others and build business relationships! Never lose a contact! Learn how to take rejection. Don’t just have a dream, have a plan. And chase down those plans like they’re the last bus of the night.
P.S. Post Scripts are fun…Jeremy sent this quote via email. Enjoy!
“Broadway Musicals call us to see the best in ourselves and in the world around us – to believe that no matter how hopeless things may seem, the nice guy can still get the girl, the hero can still triumph over evil, and a brighter day can be waiting just around the bend.” – President Obama
An inside look at a Tech Rehearsal- 47 laptops and computers were counted.