Last Room @ Soho LOFT
Over the course of 4 years Mitch Moxley worked on a new play called Last Room based on the life outline of acclaimed writer and chef, Anthony Bourdain. Last spring, at Caveat event space, directed by myself, Jonathan Dauerman, Yohanna Florentino and Anna Frankl Duval put up a stunning staged reading. This spring, Mitch brought myself and Jonathan back for a full 4 weekend run, 8 shows during May at a storied loft space in Soho. We are thrilled to also have producer Trey Tetreault on our Last Room team this time around.
I was interested in directing this piece for a few reasons- Jonathan is an incredibly gifted actor and has the resonant baritone voice of Bourdain- great casting. Also, I've been given free reign on the production design, meaning if I'd like to hang fabric, shred on an electric guitar, have a paper snow drop, or a waltz dance sequence- I'm allowed, in fact, encouraged to use all my black box theater skills that I honed at my Columbia MFA directing program.
At that school- Anne Bogart may hand you a classic canon play and say something like- "use only one character's lines and create a 10 minutes dream sequence for them. Here's a closet full of cubes and a red balloon, good luck." It is well known as a "scrappy" program, and honestly I do feel like I could make theater in a garage if that's what I had. All you need to make great theater is a space and a story.
It is the exact opposite challenge from an opera- which requires such musical precision and exactitude in timing. Mitch's ethereal script has so much opportunity for travel and transformation, travels the world in a snap, and then returns to a spectral bare hotel room again and again. It's both a place, all places, and no place. It has both the sound of drunk urban nights, the sound of exhaling a cigarette, and silence.
It's a gift to be able to stretch my theater muscles - join us on a weekend in May to see the magic in our Last Room. Ticket link coming soon.
January 2023 @ the gorgeous Kasser Theater at Montclair State Unviersity,
two full casts presented a double bill of fantastic opera, lead by conductor Kyle Ritenauer.
Gianni Schicchi by Puccini, and Buoso's Ghost by Michael Ching, featuring our amazing Schicchi, Seungchan Hong, went on both nights, which makes sense because he was hysterical and a champion. His professional cover, Steven Condy, was in the house cheering him on.
These two operas were the result of a semester long class called "Opera Workshop" where I was their acting professor/director. I was very supported by my colleagues in the room, musical director Victoria Schwartzman, assistant conductor, William Hobbs. For the first months they were assigned to learn the music, with weekly review, and then blocking began and away we went.
For January, I assembled a really stellar team to bring my Medieval concept to life- in the scrolling photos above you can see the original set drawing that we worked from as inspiration. My friends from NYU MFA design came on board to realize this elaborate concept- Heather Freedman, costumes, and Maamoun Tobbo, set.
This project was by far the largest budget I'd ever had to delegate- and I squeezed every dime's worth out of it! We had some very special guests on opening night- a great Q & A panel lead by Karen Driscoll: Maria Zouves, Sherrill Milnes and Fabrizio Melano.
I was extremely proud of all the students hard work- it was over double the usual turn out for the mainstage opera, and they were proud of themselves with all the excited applause at the end. There was some great acting up there- and the story was clear for even the non-opera viewers, which is something I really value, making opera accessible.
Special thank you to the head of John J. Cali School of Music: Anthony Mazzocchi, and to Beth Roberts and Lori McCann for bring me onboard for the journey.
Monteverdis Vespers of 1610
This piece was sacred for those who attended in person and those who joined via televised livestream. As a big fan of Baroque Music from my days at Juilliard, I was very interested in staging Monteverdi's vespers; his music has such atmosphere, such stillness and evolution, and never resolves in a predictable way to my ears. It was also a challenge, which I adore- Conductor Alejandro Zuleta (alejandrozuleta.com/music-at-co-cath) lead a Baroque orchestra) and Soprano Cristina María, Soprano, commissioned from me a devised theater piece, the task - to honor the Virgen de Guadalupe on her holiday, December 12th, set to the music of Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610.
I was so inspired by the scale of Co-Cathedral of Brooklyn, with its soaring green marble and vibrant murals- I knew the staging would involve coming out into the aisle among the people, as the Virgen of Guadalupe did when she appeared to Juan Diego. I decided to do a re-telling of her story, just as we re-enact the nativity every year. We cast a brilliant actor as Juan Diego-(Leonard Zelig) and he and I co-wrote a series of monologues in Spanish/English. We had an incredible Baroque tenor I had worked with at Juilliard, Richard Pittsinger as our lead soloist and he was transcendental. The spilling of scented roses, the draping of Guadalupe (in the video attached above) when she descends from heaven, the miracle of healing Juan Diego's uncle, all parts of her visit to the Americas were shown. At the end, a community of Guadalupanos offered a real rose offering, and all dedicated a blessing to Guadalupe. This was a very special evening, and many knelt to touch the tilma of Guadalupe's image at the end- a perfectly sacred tribute.
Enfrascada at CCNY
After 2 years of pandemic hiatus, the students at CCNY were ready to launch a full season of theater in 2022. Anna directed their first show of the year, an all Latina cast play in Spanish/English by Tanya Saracho called Enfrascada. This show, which involves elements of Santería and HooDoo, required much commitment from the students to the spiritual world of the play- also the rhythm of the play required FAST and sometimes even overlapping delivery. These challenges were tackled head-on, by a whip smart cast, and much was learned throughout the process about how live theater works.
La bohème - Puccini Soo Opera, MI
Puccini’s LA BOHEME
Sault St Marie Michigan, you might not know, hosts a world-class opera every summer at the incredible Soo Opera Theater. Bringing together working professionals from all over the world for their principle cast, and calling on the community for chorus needs, Karen Beacom (Mimi) theater founder, assembles an incredible team. Anna was invitied to direct Puccini’s La Boheme this summer, for shows both at Soo Theater and at Mackinac Island, working with the esteemed conductor John Nardolillo.
Karen Beacom - Mimi
Glenn Seven Allen - Rodolfo
Thomas Gunther - Marcello
Suna Gunther - Musetta
Eliam Ramos - Schaunard
Scott Russell - Colline
Travis Richter - Benoit
Figaro @ Estates Theater, Prague
LE NOZZE DI FIGARO
Their first year back post pandemic, The Prague Summer Nights festival brought over 50 Orchestra Musicians, 50 Singers, and a whole teaching faculty, out for a month of wildly gorgeous programming in some of the most honored performance spaces for music. As the culmination of their month long festival, a double cast Le Nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni are put up at the stunning Estates Theater in Prague.
Anna directed Le Nozze Di Figaro, giving both casts rigorous physical demands and scenework training during the process, while keeping every storytelling moment clear, fun, and light. Costumes are designed by the renowned Czech artist and national treasure Theodor Pistek.
Due to covid protocols, Juilliard's spring main stage opera, L'Elisir d'amore, by Donizetti, had specific spacing rules to navigate (12 ft apart when singing), and all the cast were masked for the performance. However! Director John Giampietro added such fun and surprise to his NYC subway staging of this piece, the singers were able to shine, even from the nose up! Anna assisted John, helping him keep his vision clean, and she was also responsible for the choreography to depict motion on the subway. Despite the rules, an excellent and bright time for all involved.
Full production available to view: www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlot8DqQVNo
January 12th, 2021
“Anna Rebek works beautifully with her colleagues and garners great respect from them as well as from her audiences. Her work demonstrates a remarkable visual sensibility, a strong physicality and considerable emotional depth. She has an innate and passionate understanding of the theatrical event and her work emanates intellectual rigor She has a deep understanding of movement and choreography and is able to use both in surprising and effective ways. She is hardworking and responsible, has a wonderful sense of humor and brings both lightness and intense rigor to her rehearsals and performances.” - Anne Bogart