Here’s one path to the future for a small, independent theater on Capitol Hill: go homeless, be exciting and produce cinematic live performances in unlikely, challenging environments.
“I wouldn’t stage Les Mis at the Moore,” new Balagan Theatre artistic director Louis Hobson tells CHS.
“At the core it’s about relationships — What happens when you take away all of the fancy stage craft?”
Balagan debuts its version of the musical classic beginning Friday night. Les Miserables runs through September 28th at the Erickson Theatre, Thursdays through Sundays. “The world’s longest running musical… like you’ve never seen it before,” goes the billing.
Les Mis embodies Hobson’s hopes for the theater he joined after leaving the Pacific Northwest for Broadway’s bright lights and then returning home to build something of his own. He arrives as Balagan creates a new life for itself without a “permanent” home. It’s been the way of the world for the theater.
“We’re looking at different models of existence, a traditional brick and mortar maybe isn’t the right thing for every space,” Hobson said. “I’d like to think we’ll want a home at some point. But right now I love the opportunities we can take advantage of.”
CHS looked at the changing Capitol Hill live theater scene last week as three companies join forces to create a lasting presence at the under-construction 12th Ave Arts facility.
Hobson said Balagan, too, is changing its approach to ensure survival while creating something worthy of an audience. “My approach to theater is asking questions and not taking the piece at its face value,” he said.
“I think what we’re trying to do here is create exciting theater. We don’t have a tremendous subscriber base.” Balagan’s aggressively entertaining programming decisions are designed to help change that.
“We’re really programming things to be exciting — including Carrie,” Hobson said. The next production, timed for Halloween and the inevitable hype from a big budget film re-boot of the 1970s horror film classic, is also designed to go big — and, for this one, Balagan will also be working on a big stage. It will also be staged in what has become Balagan’s signature style — to music. Carrie: The Musical opens at the Moore Theatre October 10.