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Resident director keeps show fresh

As resident director, Madeline Paul watches The Sound of Music about four times a week — and she never gets bored.

As resident director, Madeline Paul watches The Sound of Music about four times a week — and she never gets bored.

“It’s my job to maintain the standard and the freshness of the show,” she explained. But it probably wouldn’t be healthy for her to watch the show any more often than she does, she said, because, it’s easy to fall into the trap of putting it under the microscope and overanalyzing every scene.

To preserve the flow of the show, as original director Jeremy Sams of the London production intended it, Paul has to keep constant tabs on the integrity of the Toronto version.

The award-winning choreographer and director took over the reigns from Sams after the show’s opening last fall, and the Mirvish Productions’ gem at The Princess of Wales Theatre is now coming up to its one-year anniversary. Over time, Paul said, a show can morph and change ever so slightly and it’s her job to keep the company and crew on track.

“It’s tricky because it kind of goes in waves,” she said. “(The company) have their days when they come in and they’re tired towards the end of the week.”

For an actor like Elicia MacKenzie — who was chosen to play Maria Rainer through CBC’s reality show How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? — it can be difficult because she has the starring role and plays it several times a week.

MacKenzie and the rest of the cast, however, are extremely professional and do an excellent job of staying fresh in their parts, Paul said, adding that at this point the production has settled into a very good place.

Paul’s work on The Sound of Music follows five years as resident director for Mama Mia! at the Royal Alexandra Theatre. She was also resident director for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Showboat, Sunset Boulevard and Ragtime.

The classical ballet dancer began her career with the Royal Ballet Company in London, and then went on to become dance supervisor and resident director for the Canadian production of Cats.

She says her favourite part of being resident director is rehearsing the understudies and teaching the show to young performers. Paul enjoys watching their progress and helping them succeed.

“They bring such energy and enthusiasm to the company,” she said.

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