Interview with Tony-winning Director Bartlett Sher
Bartlett Sher recently picked up a Drama Desk Award for his directorial work on the Tony-nominated revival of Fiddler on the Roof, which is currently booking through to 31 December 2016 at the Broadway Theatre.
Previously he won a Tony for South Pacific (2008) and earned Tony nominations for The King and I (2015), Golden Boy(2013), Joe Turner's Come and Gone (2009), Awake and Sing! (2006) and The Light in the Piazza (2005). Other Broadway credits include The Bridges of Madison County and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.
Mr. Sher also acts as a Resident Director of Lincoln Center Theater.
We caught up with the mastermind behind the hit Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof...
Thomas Hayden Millward: What is it, in your opinion, that keeps drawing audiences back to see ‘Fiddler on the Roof’?
Bartlett Sher: Good question. I think ‘Fiddler’ is sort of a show that you pass down. Your experience of it gets passed down to the next generation and the next generation. It’s a really complicated world now where people are emigrating from all over and there are refugees wandering across the globe. There are so many political conflicts. It’s always helpful to remind ourselves about how lucky we are and about how far we’ve all come to be where we are. The story of Tevye is a sort of ancient one and it’s a wise one. At the same time, there is this incredible music and it is one of the greatest musicals ever made.
THM: Were you asked to direct this production or did it all come into play through your own initiative?
BS: A little of both. I’ve always wanted to do it. My father was born in Lithuania in a shtetl, so I was always interested in the story. There was always 2 conditions: 1 was that Danny [Burstein] could do it, and the other was that I could use new choreography so that Hofesh Schechter could join us as well. I think Danny is giving as great a performance as is happening on Broadway right now.
THM: You’re one of the busiest directors in the theatre industry. What else have you got in the pipeline at the moment?
BS: Well, I just came from rehearsal for a new play called Oslo, which is about the Oslo Accords in 1993 at Lincoln Center. The King and I goes on tour next year. I’m doing a new musical with Adam Guettel and an opera at the MET - Roméo et Juliette – in December. I’ve got enough to worry about.
THM: With all the projects that come your way, are there certain key ingredients that make you say yes to them?
BS: Hmmm there are no key ingredients. It’s always a mixture of the theatrical challenge and personal reasons. At the stage where I am now, I really like theatrical challenges and I’m really trying to push myself to places I haven’t been before and different kinds of work. I’m always essentially political in my work and that’s with a small ‘p,’ so if I feel like there’s a political reason for doing it, I often like that too.