Matthew Davies is the Dance Captain, Assistant Choreographer, and a Protean in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.
Hello, my name is Matthew Davies and I am the Dance Captain, Assistant Choreographer, and a Protean in Gulfshore Playhouse’s production of A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum.
When I joined this production, I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. I had heard the music but didn’t know much about the show. This show is so beautifully unique from any other production because it is gender bent, which allows every character and their nuances to come directly from the actors.
With so much of the show being built specifically around the cast, Adam Cates (the choreographer) and I didn’t even do pre-pro in New York before coming down here. (For those of you who don’t know, “Pre-Pro” is short for pre-production where you create a base or skeleton for the show ahead of time.) Normally with a show, you would plan out things or at least have sequences of dance steps put together so you can teach quickly in the rehearsal process. We had none of that because each of the actors cast were so brilliant that our directing team trusted we could create in the room. So we did! It has turned out better than I could have ever imagined.
This show was fun to create because it differs from other shows that have heavy amounts of dance in them. This show still has a solid chunk of dancing but it also very character driven. By this, I mean that the movement or choreography isn’t necessarily technical. It isn’t something you would learn in a dance class, but rather we take everyday pedestrian movements and exaggerate them to make them comedic and help further the story. When this is done successfully (and let me tell you that it absolutely has been in this production) most audience members forget that they are still watching choreography because they are so immersed in the story.
As the Dance Captain some of my jobs are to keep the show clean so it looks good and keep the actors safe while dancing. I do this by holding brush up rehearsals or giving out specific notes before shows. This allows all the actors on stage to play safely within the constructs of the show and create magic for the audience. Additionally, before each show we hold a “Lift Call” where any actors in the show who do a lift with a partner practice it to make sure they feel safe so no one is in danger. Safety first!
It is such an honor and pleasure to be working down here in Naples with the amazing team at Gulfshore Playhouse. It is rare that you see such a sincere and honest commitment to making great theatre and continuing theatre education. I hope each and every one of you can take advantage of this amenity that is this beautiful company. Hope to see your smiling and laughing faces in the audience!