The Yale University Dramatic Association, the largest undergraduate theater company on campus, has been forced to postpone its fall mainstage musical. Production problems have left the association with no choice but to move its run of “Candide” to February, Dramat members said.
“The cast was really shocked,” said James Johnson ’03, who was set to play the title role. “We had no idea there was the slightest problem. It was running so smoothly, and the cast was so happy.”
Cast members said that even though the set had been designed, the producer failed to find a technical director in time for production. The performance aspect was “on track,” Johnson said, but the Dramat executive board decided that since the set would not be ready, the play would run in the spring.
The board notified the cast of a potential problem at the beginning of the week, producer Aaron Lemon-Strauss ’03 said. The decision to postpone the play, putting it in place of the Dramat’s major spring production, was made on Thursday night.
“The reason why the show isn’t happening is because there is no technical director,” Lemon-Strauss said.
He said that a new rule implemented this year about what constitutes a technical director hampered his search. He characterized the rule as “unreasonable,” and said he had already filled all 30 other staff positions for the musical.
“It’s not like this position was neglected,” he said.
Lemon-Strauss said the new rule required the technical director to have experience on a previous Dramat play, narrowing the pool to five students.
Dramat President Jeffrey Little ’02 was unavailable for comment.
The set also ran over budget, Dramat members said. Lemon-Strauss estimated the overruns at $1,500.
“[The set] was an important piece of the director’s vision,” said Lauren Worsham ’05, an actress in the play. “We blocked around it.”
The director, Joe Ametrano, is a professional who lives in New York. Some of the technical aspects of the Dramat shows, including direction and set design, are carried out by professionals.
Dramat members said Ametrano plans to return to New Haven to continue production and that they will begin brush-up rehearsals as soon as this weekend. Full rehearsals likely will not resume until January, a month before the musical is to be performed.
“The show is in great shape,” Johnson said. “We’ll start where we left off.”
There was uncertainty about how the loss of the fall show will effect the Dramat’s finances. Lemon-Strauss said that most Dramat musicals run a deficit, and so they will be replacing a loss with a loss.
“The overall financial impact is even,” he said.
While cast members said they thought the producer would be forced to leave the Dramat board, Lemon-Strauss said he would serve out his term, which ends in December.
Johnson said some cast members were upset because their parents had already bought plane tickets to see the show.
“My family was supposed to come, but I’m not sure if they can come back in February,” he said.