Marketing Intern, Dan Luner sat down with Brian Dietzler to discuss the music of Flat Stanley and more. The abbreviated conversation is posted below.
Dan Luner: Briefly tell us about your history at Summer Stage.
Brian Dietzler: My history at Summer Stage…I was practically born and raised here. I think I was negative 10 months old here, and I watched this program grow. I remember holding dad’s hand at rehearsals when I was little, crawl around in the catwalks, run around in the seats, etc.
I spent two summers away at camp in Maine, and I was so glad to be back. I’ve stage-managed here, then I moved into music directing, and now I’m directing children’s theatre, and it’s an absolute honor to be apart of the program.
My first director was Tina Fey who cast me as the ugly duckling in Hans Christian Andersen.
DL: Can you tell us a bit about “The Adventures of Flat Stanley, Jr.” from a musical perspective?
BD: Oh absolutely, this show musically is just so much fun and has so much energy. It reminds me of “Camp Rock” mixed with the old TV show, “Full House!” It mixes a whole bunch of styles, it starts out with a rock number, “Meet the Lambchops”, it goes right into a bedtime lullaby, then we get into another rock number and then there’s salsa and rumba beats.
There is a number called “Talent,” which is a big Hollywood, Broadway number. Then there’s a Beach Boys style song called “Surfin.” It’s just hysterical how many styles there are. You hear a lot of musical quotes from other shows, lyrics, harmonies, etc. It’s a big homage to Broadway!
DL: You’re directing “Willy Wonka, Jr.” later this summer. How do you make the quick change in the mindset from being a music director to a director?
BD: I always say theatre is 90% preparation, 5% rehearsal and 5% performance when it comes to the recipe for success. I’ve been preparing since April. [For Willy Wonka]. I’ve figured out blocking, audio, so I can just pick it up right when I’m done [Flat Stanley]. Like you said, right now my focus needs to be on Flat Stanley so if I jump into directing unprepared, it’s not going to go well. I’m very excited for both shows!
DL: How does the cast like the music?
BD: They are loving the music. I’m the first the one to say I can’t stand music rehearsals, they are extremely boring, when you are hearing notes over and over again! But I always say it will pay off when you’re performing it and that’s exactly the case with this cast. They’ve risen to the challenge and their energy shows on stage. They really enjoy all the numbers!
DL: What’s the most difficult thing about being a music director?
BD: Like I said, music rehearsals can be extremely boring, so keeping the cast motivated and focused is a challenge. I try to be as energetic as I can. Sometimes I bring in music lessons, whether it be theory…but I try to be as goofy as possible to keep the cast engaged. I usually act like Jack Black from “School of Rock.”
DL: What is your favorite component of music in “Flat Stanley,” like the tempo, etc.?
BD: I’d say the tempo, I’m glad you used that word. It’s really upbeat and energetic. The music is really well composed. It’s fun to sing, it’s very catchy. I think it’s a show everybody will be humming when they leave.
DL: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the phrase “it’s all the details”?
BD: That’s the difference between a good show and a less than great show. A great show is all about the details, nuance, building strong character, etc. Taking the time to refine really makes all the difference. Like I said, 90% preparation and finding all the details…any old cast can learn a song. It’s really pushing our students here who are already fantastic to find those details.