Director Sean Daniels is taking a break from the national stage to touch base with his peeps. “In American theater, your constant job is to find your people, the ones who get your work and speak your language. I have a lot of those people here,” says the former Atlantan and Dad’s Garage cofounder. Daniels is directing a couple of productions for Lawrenceville’s Aurora Theatre, which kicks off its 2012–2013 season this month.
Photograph by Mike Colletta
From 1995 through 2004, Daniels practically became the face of Atlanta’s cheeky, youthful improv scene as cofounder, performer, and then artistic director of Dad’s Garage Theatre Company in Inman Park. Daniels left there for high-profile gigs at San Francisco’s California Shakespeare Theater and the Actors Theatre of Louisville, home of the prestigious Humana Festival of New American Plays. This summer Aurora coaxed him back to direct the 1966 musical Sweet Charity (August 2 to September 2) and the new rags-to-riches comedy BOB (January 17 to February 10, 2013).
“With Mad Men so popular, it’s the perfect time to do a show set in the 1960s about a woman who’s unstoppable,” Daniels says of Sweet Charity, which features a book by Neil Simon, music by Cy Coleman, and lyrics by Dorothy Fields. It’s usually staged with at least twenty performers, but Daniels’s version features just nine.
The director explains, “All of Charity’s boyfriends, normally played by four actors, are played by Trent Blanton [another former Atlantan]. Doing that reveals that people do have a ‘type’ while dating, even though they don’t realize it.” Daniels also gave dozens of one-line speaking parts, normally shared by an ensemble, to one actor.
Ever since Aurora Theatre moved to Lawrenceville from Duluth in 2006, the playhouse has diversified its lineup, presenting innovative new scripts as well as lively takes on theatrical chestnuts. Daniels applauds Aurora’s producing artistic director Anthony Rodriguez and associate producer Ann-Carol Pence for their willingness to take some risks. “The country is looking for musicals that can be reconceived with smaller casts. Everyone will do the nine-person Sweet Charity—after it’s been successful. They don’t want to be the first, but Anthony and Ann-Carol will.” Daniels’s stints at Aurora can be expected to inject some intown irreverence into the OTP playhouse.