Excitement was thick in the air as "A Catered Affair" had it's first rehearsal this week. It seemed fitting that we were gathering around tables on the 3rd floor of the Athenaeum Theatre, right down the hall from the room where we held rehearsals for director Nick Bowling's last Porchlight show, Closer Than Ever. Almost eight years ago, Closer Than Ever was nominated for multiple Jeff Awards, including a nomination for Bowling and a win for Rebecca Finnegan, who is also making a much overdue return to the Porchlight stage with her starring role in “A Catered Affair”.
Cast members, designers, board members, and Artistic Associates were welcomed by Artistic Director Michael Weber and then each member of the creative team shared their pre-production renderings, models, and thoughts. The first glimpses were seen of the beautiful 1950s costumes and intricate set design to capture the close-knit community of the tenement housing of the Bronx.
Bowling got right to the heart of this charming piece by stressing that it really is a piece about family and finding someone you want to spend your life with, a theme that many of the characters in the musical struggle with from mother and father, to daughter and fiance, even to their confirmed-bachelor uncle.
This project also reunites Musical Director Doug Peck and Nick Bowling who had a runaway hit with “Fiorello!” at Timeline Theatre. It’s always a pleasure to hear Peck talk about smaller-scale actor-driven musicals, something he had made a national name for himself doing. Peck shared his vision, including orchestrations that feature a string-quartet representative of the fantasy wedding that lingers over the family throughout the play. Peck and Sound Designer Victoria Delorio also shared their hopes to have as much acoustic sound as possible with the production to really keep the natural feeling of the wonderfully complex and nuanced characters brought to life by John Bucchino’s stunning score.
After a short break for refreshments and mingling, those in attendance were treated to a first read through of the Harvey Fierstein script. There were lots of laughs and even some tears as the cast gave voice to this touching story for the first time. The creative process has launched and anticipation is mounting for opening night on February 21st.