Barry Edelstein Directs First Musical with 'Rain'
Barry Edelstein | Photo by Jeffrey Weiser
March 24–May 1
Tickets at theoldglobe.org
Barry Edelstein came to San Diego with a résumé that included his tenure at the Public Theater in New York, producing Shakespeare in the Park, and working with stars like Gwyneth Paltrow. He’s also known as one of the country’s leading Shakespeareans. But one thing missing from The Old Globe artistic director’s repertoire? A musical. This month he makes his musical directorial debut with Rain, an adaptation of the W. Somerset Maugham story about a prostitute and the missionaries who want to reform her. Here, we chat with Edelstein about bringing theater to the masses and pushing Shakespeare around.
How is directing a musical different?
Musicals come in different forms: some have jazz hands, some feel closer to plays. Rain is one of those. There are scenes, and then people sing, and there’s a seriousness to the themes. The fun part for a director is to explore what singing adds to the storytelling.
I love the story and its characters, and I really love the score [by Michael John LaChiusa and Sybille Pearson]. There’s something about their work that has a complexity in line with the kind of classical theater I’ve been making my whole career. It’s also very much in The Old Globe’s wheelhouse. We’re very good at producing musicals, and also period pieces.
How has San Diego’s theater landscape changed since you arrived in 2012?
Everyone is talking about how to include communities who, for whatever reason, haven’t enjoyed regular access to the arts. The Globe is doubling down in this area through our Globe for All initiative, but I know our colleagues all over the city are thinking about art as a public good, and doing wonderful things.
You’re known for your Shakespearean expertise. What’s your opinion of shows like Kiss Me, Kate—a musical based on the Bard’s Taming of the Shrew?
I love Kiss Me, Kate! His works can move from one period to another and one form to another and still retain their meaning and power. When a Shakespeare character busts out a huge soliloquy or soaring speech, it works much like a song in a musical. As much as I revere Shakespeare, I’m in no sense a purist. Adapt him, bend him, push him around. I love it, and so, I think, does he!