The Nance - meed the director Frank D. Shutts II!
Tell us a little about yourself: I am Frank D. Shutts II, the director. The Nance marks the twenty-third main-stage production I have directed for the Little Theater of Alexandria since 1989. I have served as the theatre’s President and in several board positions.
How does this show differ from other shows you have worked on? This show is a melting pot of theatrical genres. Part musical and part comedy with a touch of drama. It takes place in the late 30s, the twilight of vaudeville and burlesque. While I am familiar with the concepts of those forgotten styles of entertainment, the table work for this show made me delve deep into their history and discover their charm. I love directing shows that broaden my knowledge in preparation! This one certainly did.
What made you get involved in theatre? How did you get involved with LTA? Theater has always been a part of my life. I thought I would be an actor until my high school theater teacher said to me, “You’re a director. You see how it all comes together.” That was followed by years of student directing and directing in the educational theater venue. While directing at McLean High School, I applied to direct The Fantasticks here in 1989. Alan Stuhl was serving on the selection committee and teaching history at our rival school. He knew of my growing reputation as a director and suggested LTA hire me. I’ve been here since. I have directed at the educational, community, and professional levels and now serve as the stage director for The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington (make them hear you!)
What advice would you give others who are interested in working in theatre? Two things: Show up and get educated in the areas that interest you. Everyone wants to direct, but it’s a skill that requires an in-depth knowledge of the acting process, dramatic literature, psychology, and the humanities…and a great imagination.
What do you want the audience to experience/take away from this show? This show as something for everyone, and what the audience takes away from it will be as different and as individual as they are, and that’s a good thing. I want people to have a good time, to enjoy the comedy sketches and burlesque numbers, and to see how politicians have pitted man against man for decades and have convinced him that he can vote against his own interest for economical or spiritual reasons…even if it will hurt him personally in the long run. It’s a comedy with a message, take from it what you will.