Thursday, February 20, 2020

Well Known Valley Performer Trisha Ditsworth talks about Taking on the Role of Director of NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT at Arizona Regional Theatre

Trisha Ditsworth and cast during rehearsals for Nice Work If You Can Get It
photo courtesy JALT Media
by Gil Benbrook

A staple on Valley stages for many years now, Trisha Ditsworth has appeared in dozens of musicals across town, recently starring as Maria in The Sound of Music at the Phoenix Theatre Company. Having seen her in close to two dozen shows since moving to town six years ago, I have found that she's equally adept in playing both comical and serious characters and her soaring, clear soprano voice always excels.

Ditsworth is taking a very short break from performing to direct the romantic comedy Nice Work If You Can Get It at Arizona Regional Theatre. Chock full of well-known tunes by George and Ira Gershwin, including "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off," "'S Wonderful," "Fascinating Rhythm,"  "But Not for Me" and "Someone to Watch Over Me," the 2012 musical is receiving its Phoenix premiere, which opens this Friday and runs through Sunday, March 1st.

Ditsworth took a few moments in between final rehearsals from the show to sit down and answer some questions about the musical, how the change from performing to directing is going, and what she hopes audiences will take away from this charming, humorous and romantic musical.

For someone who hasn't heard of it, what would you tell them about Nice Work if You Can Get It?

"It is a must-see musical with a fantastic Gershwin score, ridiculous madcap humor, and amazing dance numbers. Set in the 1920’s prohibition era, hilarity will ensue as the cast takes you on a journey of unexpected romances and hidden identities. "

What made you want to direct this musical and how has the change from acting to directing been?

"I am a huge Gershwin fan. The music really pulled me in and so did the larger than life characters in the show. I love the challenge of creating a heightened musical but making sure that the honesty still lives and breathes underneath it all."

"The change from actor to director feels really natural. I have been incredibly lucky in my career to work with several different directors and I have been inspired by so many of them. I watch, I learn, I try to incorporate into my own directing style all of the things I have loved about others. Also, being a professional actor, I can literally put myself in their shoes and hopefully give them all the support and encouragement that they need. "

the cast of Nice Work if You Can Get It in rehearsals
photo courtesy JALT Media

I have to imagine that The Sound of Music was a fairly intense undertaking since you were the lead and since the show had a very long run. Was it a nice break stepping to the other side of the creative process?

"It has been wonderful. I love directing as much as I love acting. I am fairly new to the role, so there is lots to learn. In that sense it is more challenging to me than performing but just as exciting."

I heard that it was important for you to direct a show with a strong female lead. Why?

"I think it’s important as a female director, to promote shows that represent women in a light that I can stand behind. I fell in love with the character Billie Bendix because she is not your average leading lady. She is a tomboy, she is tough as nails, and she isn’t afraid to speak her mind. "

You've appeared in dozens of shows at various theatres across town that, like this show, feature plenty of choreography. During rehearsals, was it hard to resist throwing up your director's book and throwing on your tap shoes instead?

"My first love is being on-stage. So, yes, there were many times I wanted to jump up to play. My cast is awesome!"

Coming from an acting background, what is your process and your approach to directing this show?

“Tell the story.” Such important words. I made sure to have an idea of the blocking/staging written down in my script, and then as the actors get on their feet, if they are inspired with a different idea, I want to see it. I truly believe acting/directing should be a 50/50 process.

As for my approach to this show - honesty is first and foremost. Comedy only plays when there is an honest emotion behind it. If you try to force things, it’s not funny. Creating heightened characters based in honesty is harder work than you think…and that has been the most important part of the process."

the cast of Nice Work if You Can Get It in rehearsals
photo courtesy JALT Media

What has been the most challenging aspect of directing Nice Work if You Can Get It

"Scheduling. It’s hard to plan how long each scene and song will take to teach and learn. But as you go along, you figure it out! "

What has your experience been like working with Arizona Regional Theatre?

"I am grateful to be working for two female Artistic Directors. In our industry you do not see this very often. This is also the first project I’ve ever worked on with a female director and choreographer. I want to see more of this. I am over the moon to be working with Laurie Trygg. We collaborate so well together. "

What moment in the show do you identify with most?

"That is a tough question. I can tell you that I loved directing and collaborating on the song “Treat Me Rough”. This is the moment that our leading lady Billie Bendix, played by the fabulous Marina Blue Jarrett is trying to seduce Jimmy. I identify with this because of the awkward dance movements. For those of you who know me well, you know I like to be a goofball on the dance floor."

What song from the show do you wish you could sing? 

" 'Someone to Watch Over Me' is one of my favorite songs ever. It is very special to me. There are so many great songs in this score!"

What can audiences expect from the cast of Nice Work if You Can Get It at Arizona Regional Theatre?

"You will leave the theatre with a huge smile on your face! I feel so lucky to be working with these incredible artists. They make me laugh every single day. They have some of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard. Did I mention that the dancing is amazing? I am so proud of their hard work and talent! You will also leave the theatre humming some of your favorite songs from the American songbook: S’Wonderful, Fascinating Rhythm, Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off to name a few. "

What's next for Trisha Ditsworth?

"I will be playing Bea in Something Rotten at The Phoenix Theatre Company. We start rehearsals just days after we open Nice Work If You Can Get It. We run March 18-April 19. I’m also extremely excited to work with my first female director in quite some time, the wonderfully talented Kathy Fitzgerald."

CLICK HERE for more information on Nice Work If  You Can Get It, which runs February 21-March 1

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Gil for writing and posting this! I can't wait to see the production! Loved the questions you asked the AWESOME Trisha Ditsworth!🌟🌟🌟