Director Christopher Renshaw Talks About ZORRO
Tony nominated Director Christopher Renshaw is once again at the helm of ZORRO, the exciting musical by Stephen Clark & Helen Edmundson, with music by rumba-flamenco icons The Gipsy Kings and Academy Award nominee John Cameron. Hear more from the real man behind the mask —
Q: You’ve been involved with ZORRO since the beginning. Please give us a quick overview of the history of this production.
A: When I was directing Boy George’s TABOO in London in 2001, Adam Kenwright, the producer of that show, told me he had just acquired the stage musical rights to ZORRO and asked if I was in interested in directing it. I agreed immediately, as long as it could become the first ever Flamenco musical. Adam, John Gertz, the CEO of Zorro Inc., and I then spent seven years developing the project from scratch. Not an usually long time, in my experience, for developing a musical! We work-shopped the show in London, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York during that time, before it started life as a national UK tour in 2008, opening later the same year, in the West End. Since then I have had huge fun, increasing my air miles, by directing the show in Paris, Moscow, Tokyo and Amsterdam.
Q: How will the American premiere be different from the production that played in London and toured?
A: ZORRO has not been at all stationary in its content, and after London, The Gipsy Kings, Stephen Clark, the lyricist and book writer, and I, have constantly made changes, adapting it to the culture of each major city we have played. But the Atlanta production will give us a chance to finally re examine the show in the language in which it was conceived. We also want to create a “definitive” version this time. And to that end, we are making changes to the story line, enriching the character development, adding new music, developing the design concept and creating different action sequences and magic effects. All of this based on the invaluable experience gained, in mounting the show in so many different places with such a variety of casts.
Q: Tell us about the music in this production and what it was like working with the Gipsy Kings.
A: I love working with the Kings. We first worked together in Gourgoubes, a 12th century Manor House near the Pyrenees, the area in which the two Gipsy Kings families live; the Bagliardo’s and the Reyes’s. Gourgoubes also serves as one of their recording studios. Stephen Clark, in his bad French, or I, in my bad Spanish, would explain the dramatic situation for which music was needed, and they would create on the spot. Very gypsy, very flamenco. Everything they played and sang was recorded and then could be reworked and developed the following days. A magical time. It was so important to me that ZORRO was not to be just a catalogue show. The Kings created a treasure chest of new music.
Q: What do you hope audiences will experience in this production?
A: ZORRO is romantic, funny, swashbuckling adventure that has at its core, the truly American belief, that each of us has in ourselves the ability to become anything we want to be. The production itself is full of special effects, sword fighting, stunts and magic, and all steeped in the passionate, earthy and sexually charged world of Flamenco dance, set in a time when California was still owned by Spain. Apart from anything else, ZORRO has a huge heart, and in the world of Musical Theater, is a truly unique and very Latin experience