Saturday, June 14, 2008

Delightful, Delectable, D'Beck

Posted by Bruce Miller
I’m going to be writing a lot about Guys and Dolls this summer, so where to begin? Last night’s Opening was fantastic. The critics will weigh in with their opinions on Monday and thereafter, and if we don’t win some significant raves, I’ll be really surprised. Suffice it say Phil and I are very pleased.

No one deserves credit for the wonderful production more than our brilliant leader Patti D’Beck. A veteran of numerous Broadway musicals, Patti knows what makes a show tick. Her staging and choreography are fun, inventive and rousing. She knows how to make her performers look good, choreographing to their strengths. She knows the traditions and styles that make an American classic like Guys blow the roof off the house. And she delivers the goods with her personal flair, leaving the audience begging for more.

So just how major of a Broadway bigwig is Patti? Consider this. Her credits as associate choreographer, supervisor, dance captain and actor include the original Broadway productions of Applause with Lauren Bacall, A Chorus Line, Seesaw, Pippin with Ben Vereen, Evita, The Will Rogers Follies, My One and Only with Twiggy and Tommy Tune, and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, as well as acclaimed recent revivals of Annie Get Your Gun with Bernadette Peters, Bells Are Ringing with Faith Prince, and Grease. I missed the last two; otherwise I saw and loved them all.

Best of all—and I do mean “best of all” even though this admirable trait will never be seen by the audience, at least not directly—Patti is nice. Make that NICE!! Patti has a resume that would give most people a head the size of a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day balloon. And yet she has no ego—at least none that she puts on display.

She is friendly, always smiling and well spoken, consistently positive, and an incredible team player who seeks and welcomes input from her colleagues. She’s a tireless model of professionalism. She aims to please, but she’s not needy. She’s respectful—respectful of each of her performers (knowing and appreciating where they are in their careers), respectful of our staff (understanding and even welcoming the reality that a company like Barksdale has limitations), and respectful of her producers.

On a show like Guys and Dolls, Phil and I work our hindquarters off, but it’s almost all behind the scenes. Patti gets it. I can’t remember the last time a Broadway veteran made a point to tell me, as Patti graciously did last night, how much she respected what it takes to run a major professional theatre in Richmond.

Guys is a HUGE show for us. Shoot, Guys is a huge show for any theatre. I think you’ll agree when you see it. Patti is able to make all the puzzle pieces fit. Because of her exemplary skill set and her winning personality, we made it to Opening Night with everyone feeling like part of a loving, supportive family. That’s a talent you won’t read about in reviews, but take my word for it, it’s exceptional.

I can’t wait to work with Patti again, should I be so lucky.

And if YOU have any sense, call and make your reservations for Guys and Dolls today. We think it’s going to be a blockbuster. It’s like Broadway on Broad Street—a wonderful evening in the theatre! I hope to see you there.

--Bruce Miller


Janine Serresseque said...

Bruce, the public must have heeded your advice because--here in the box office--the phone's been ringing off the hook! Congrats on a fabulous opening. I can't wait to see it myself!

Anonymous said...

It's nice to see VCU faculty going out to work in the community. That's the way things should be, with all that the community does to support VCU.