A Glimpse into Des McAnuff, The Director
By Brian P. Sharp
The man behind the Jersey Boys …?
That would be Des McAnuff, the Director of the show. I had the opportunity to chat with this amazing man.
Born in Illinois and raised in Canada by his Mother, after the loss of his Father, McAnuff was interested in music at a young age and feels that in a way he backed into the theatre. He was involved in shows like Pajama Game, Sound of Music and other so-called “parents” shows where he had no investment. And then the musical Hair came to town for auditions, and he decided that this musical guy needed to audition. During the audition process he came to realize his niche.
McAnuff wrote the musical Urbania and watched his career take off afterwards. He went back to drama school to study classical musical theatre, where he was involved in shows like Guys and Dolls, A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and he accordingly developed great interest in plays that were becoming the new classics.
McAnuff states that in this business you need to “find your people” … that is, the people that can “help you do it.” No one can create great musical theatre by themselves. You must have a team of people — ideally, people that have the same interests. He challenges people just getting started to “find great teachers, hang out and act, get experience and find colleagues you can depend on.”
Some of McAnuff’s career highlights have been the role he played in developing the LaJolla Playhouse, his position as Artistic Director at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, and now, of course, the smash hit Jersey Boys.
This show proves that the electric musical is comfortable on the stage. It tells a great story and uses rock and roll to do just that. The show “sings effortlessly and brilliantly.”
McAnuff points out what a great privilege it has been to direct this show.
And for the men reading this … Jersey Boys is a great way to take a girl out and still enjoy a show!
McAnuff says that the songs in Act I demonstrate the group’s rise to success, and then in Act II the show develops thematically through the songs. This show draws people in … you are taken in by the story … and then suddenly you are watching the Four Seasons!
Don’t miss this show!
Reach DCP theatre critic Brian P. Sharp at Theatre@DaytonCityPaper.com.