Producing Finian's Rainbow

Join us this weekend for our Spring Musical, Finian's Rainbow. Performances are May 1, 2, and 3 at 7pm at the Pine Hill Waldorf School. Tickets sold at the door, $12 for adults and $8 for students. As the cast prepares for the first performance on Thursday, director Dale Coye sat down with us to talk about producing and directing a musical.

When do you start planning for the Spring Musical?

Dale Coye: The previous fall. As for choosing which musical, I have to take into account what sort of talent we have and how big the chorus will be. A lot of the old musicals don’t have great plots. The music might be great but the plot is weak or vice versa. And there are never enough parts for our girls. The play is cast before the March break. As soon as the students return we start rehearsing.

You have about six weeks to prepare — where do you start?

DC: I start with the chorus parts, they’re always the hardest. With the chorus it’s very difficult to get everyone together so we usually have to meet during the evenings. I work with the leads one on one to begin with.
In Finian’s Rainbow the leads are either Irish or southern, so teaching accents is another part that starts early. It takes a long time to get them sounding authentic. I teach them the vowel changes, and we go over their parts in the script. But there are aspects of it that aren’t as mechanical as just changing this vowel to that vowel. With the advent of Youtube this has become much easier, because now they can hear genuine accents.

You have a background in teaching accents, correct?

DC: I have a PhD in linguistics from Princeton, and I did my dissertation on accents for the stage. I teach at an online university based in New Jersey and I teach dialects at Dartmouth.

Tell us about the plot of Finian's Rainbow.

DC: Finian and his daughter have arrived in America and are being pursued by a leprechaun whose gold Finian stole. Finian believes that everyone gets rich in America, and that if he buries the gold he’s stolen it will multiply. The leprechaun, named Og, is trying to get his gold back so he doesn’t become mortal. Matters are complicated by a bigoted southern senator. I won’t give any more away—you’ll just have to come see it.

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