5 Questions with Krystyn Wells
Krystyn Wells has a growing resume with Wheaton Drama, with performances including Christmas Carol and Sweeney Todd, even assistant director credits in WDI’s 2018 production of Willy Wonka. Now, her directorial debut is taking place now through February 9th at Wheaton Drama, in a delightful, heartwarming production of Little Women – the Broadway Musical.
We sat down with the new director to see what she’s learned and what she’s excited to share with this production.
1) Little Women is 100+ year old, and yet there’s an Broadway musical, and just this year, an Oscar nominated film. What is it about this story that makes it so engaging 100 years later?
“The bond of sisterhood is relatable to so many. But what I love about this particular adaptation is that Jo’s journey as a writer and feminist is structured around her evolving ideas of what it means for her to have a family and a place that she calls home that feels right for her, despite society’s expectations. That resonates strongly for me personally, and is (sadly) still a struggle for women today.”
2) What drew you to want to direct Little Women?
“This musical production is such a joyful and fun adaptation of the book. And even when there’s sadness and heartache, the hope and excitement in the music is a reminder to keep going, keep pursuing the dream. That’s a real 2020 mood, I think. It’s got such a killer message to deliver. When audiences leave the theater I want them to take home a spirit of hope that despite some of your worst fears and hardest struggles, there is a place for you in this world. Sometimes your family shows up in the most unexpected places. Sometimes you have to leave home in order to find it. “
3) This is your first job direction a show at WDI, and to make it more complicated, it’s a musical. What have you learned about yourself, about the theater and about the craft along the way?
“That it takes a team. I have my strengths, but I also know that a show is only made stronger by having people with expertise on the team. Leadership happens when a director can delegate. This show would not be the beautiful, cozy musical it is without the folks who taught the music, choreographed the dances, and showed actors the safest way to wield a prop sword, for example. I could then focus my efforts not only on the tiny moments, but step back and see the whole picture. I learned a lot about WDI’s traditions and expectations, and where I, as a director, could use them and discard them in order to create a compelling piece of theatre. Also, as an introvert, I learned a lot about how to keep my focus while managing a cast of 17 actors!”
4) Why is this story important now?
“Social media, the current political landscape, climate change, income disparity, the threat of war – these are all things that clamor for our attention, and for many of us, it’s literally inescapable. It’s difficult not to feel hopeless or ground down by the constant barrage of news and disappointments. This musical is a sweet reminder to keep working and hoping.”
5) With so many different forms of entertainment available in the palm of your hand, on a huge screen in the comfort of your home, or a state-of-the-art movie theater, why is live theater important? Why is Wheaton Drama important?
“A hug emoji in a text message can never quite compare to a real hug, you know? I mean, if you’re not a huggy type person, then my analogy sucks, but: live theater is where we can share, in real-time, an experience that is crafted especially for us in that moment. No two performances of a show are the same, and the audience can have so much to do with that. As humans, we seek connection – we not only crave art that reflects our hopes and dreams, but we are better people when we share experiences. You know how sometimes when we yearn for someone far away we look up at the moon and stars and take comfort that they can see (nearly) the same sky? In the theatre we’re all storytellers, sharing the moon.
At Wheaton Drama, we have the opportunity to put on quality theatre in a community structure. Wisdom is passed down, new folks are welcomed, and audiences know they’ll see something good when they come through our doors. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a part of that in a directorial role. It’s been fun and inspiring.”
Little Women – the Broadway Musical performs Thursdays – Sundays, now through February 9th, at Wheaton Drama’s Playhouse 111. More information and online ticketing can be found at www.wheatondrama.org.