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Watching Michael Kahn Direct is a Great Experience

Watching Michael Kahn, Artistic Director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC), direct a play is a wonderful experience. Last Sunday I had the pleasure of attending an open rehearsal for his upcoming play Metromaniacs. He has clearly earned all his awards and that statue of him at the Harman Theatre.

It is adapted and translated from La Métromanie by Alexis Piron. The advertising from the STC says, “Continuing the successful partnership between Michael Kahn and the award-winning playwright of Venus in Fur David Ives, STC presents the third play in Ives’s series of rediscovered French comedy masterpieces, following The Heir Apparent (2011) and The Liar (2010). A world-premiere translation and adaptation, The Metromaniacs once again applies Ives’s brilliant sense of comedic timing to a lost classic.” Judging from the audience response at the rehearsal, which was non-stop out loud laughter, I can’t wait to see the play in final form when it opens.

Scott Suchman.
Scott Suchman.

Michael sits imperiously half-way up the theatre from the stage and has the actors run through the play, stopping them every so often with suggestions. It could be as simple as exit stage left front instead of through a doorway or move right or left because it makes it easier for another actor to get on stage in a timely way. Or he suggests a different way to say a line or where the actor should be on stage at the end of his lines. He has this wonderful way about him and the actors all seem to respond knowing when Michael suggests something it is the right way to do it.

In one scene Lisette, played by Dina Thomas, has to drag Modor, played by Michael Goldstrom, off the stage. She is trying to figure out how to do it gracefully while wearing an enormous dress and Kahn is telling her she needs to get him off the stage somehow. He agrees the way he first envisioned it won’t work. He asks the actors for their ideas and Goldstrom comes up with one that has the audience in stitches. After a few takes Kahn says, ‘Ok guess we keep that in”. I think every audience will be in stiches when they see it.

Another scene has Lisette (Dina), jumping into the arms of Dorante, played by Anthony Roach. They are practicing it on the side while another scene is being dissected by Kahn, so Anthony can catch her and not lose his balance and look suave at the same time.

Rehearsals aren’t the final play but judging from what I saw (the set and costumes are magnificent) and heard, no one who enjoys theater will want to miss Metromaniacs. Each member of the cast was great and it’s good to see Christian Conn, who plays Damis, back at the STC.

Kahn is a brilliant director and Ives is a brilliant writer, together they have proven unbeatable. Get your tickets today for Metromaniacs at STC.