Peterborough Players begin rehearsals for ‘She Loves Me’

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    Choreographer Bill Burns works with the cast of the musical "She Loves Me" at the Peterborough Players Sunday morning. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

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    Choreographer Bill Burns works with the cast of the musical "She Loves Me" at the Peterborough Players Sunday morning. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

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    Choreographer Bill Burns works with the cast of the musical "She Loves Me" at the Peterborough Players Sunday morning. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

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    Choreographer Bill Burns works with the cast of the musical "She Loves Me" at the Peterborough Players Sunday morning. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

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    Choreographer Bill Burns works with the cast of the musical "She Loves Me" at the Peterborough Players Sunday morning. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

  • Choreographer Bill Burns works with Bridget Beirne and Tom Frey in a rehearsal for the musical “She Loves Me” at the Peterborough Players Sunday morning. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

  • Tom Frey and Bridget Beirne at a rehearsal for the musical “She Loves Me” at the Peterborough Players Sunday morning. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

  • Choreographer Bill Burns works with Tom Frey and Bridget Beirne in a rehearsal for the musical “She Loves Me” at the Peterborough Players Sunday morning. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

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    Choreographer Bill Burns works with the cast of the musical "She Loves Me" at the Peterborough Players Sunday morning. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

  • ">

    Choreographer Bill Burns works with the cast of the musical "She Loves Me" at the Peterborough Players Sunday morning. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

  • ">

    Choreographer Bill Burns works with the cast of the musical "She Loves Me" at the Peterborough Players Sunday morning. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

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    Choreographer Bill Burns works with the cast of the musical "She Loves Me" at the Peterborough Players Sunday morning. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

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    The cast of the musical "She Loves Me" rehearse at the Peterborough Players Sunday morning. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

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    The cast of the musical "She Loves Me" rehearse at the Peterborough Players Sunday morning. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

  • ">

    The cast of the musical "She Loves Me" rehearse at the Peterborough Players Sunday morning. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

  • ">

    The cast of the musical "She Loves Me" rehearse at the Peterborough Players Sunday morning. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

  • ">

    The cast of the musical "She Loves Me" rehearse at the Peterborough Players Sunday morning. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

  • ">

    The cast of the musical "She Loves Me" rehearse at the Peterborough Players Sunday morning. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

  • ">

    The cast of the musical "She Loves Me" rehearse at the Peterborough Players Sunday morning. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

  • ">

    Choreographer Bill Burns works with the cast of the musical "She Loves Me" at the Peterborough Players Sunday morning. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

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    Choreographer Bill Burns works with the cast of the musical "She Loves Me" at the Peterborough Players Sunday morning. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

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    Greg Wood rehearses for the musical "She Loves Me" at the Peterborough Players Sunday morning. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

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    Choreographer Bill Burns works with the cast of the musical "She Loves Me" at the Peterborough Players Sunday morning. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

  • ">

    Choreographer Bill Burns works with the cast of the musical "She Loves Me" at the Peterborough Players Sunday morning. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

  • The cast of the musical “She Loves Me” rehearse at the Peterborough Players Sunday morning. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 7/24/2019 9:29:12 PM

The cast of “She Loves Me” at the Peterborough Players met in the rehearsal hall Sunday morning with nationally-known choreographer and Broadway dancer Bill Burns to learn the choreography for the musical number “Days Gone By.”

Set in a luxurious 1930s Budapest perfume shop, there is waltzing, but also comedy and a touch of romance in the scene.

The hit Broadway musical “She Loves Me” premiered in 1963 and is based on the Hungarian play “Parfumerie” by Miklós László. It also inspired several classic movies: “The Shop Around the Corner” starring James Stewart and “In the Good Old Summertime” starring Judy Garland as well as the 1990s Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan rom-com “You’ve Got Mail.”

“She Loves Me” isn’t full of big dance numbers, Burns said, like “The Producers,” which he choreographed for the Players two summers ago. It is a more intimate musical in its choreography and that is what he is leaning into with the musical and encouraging the cast to do as well.

“Trust the small moment, go with a joke, go with a bit, because it’s a small space and it’s a small show,” Burns said in an interview with the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript last week. “It’s a little jewel box of a show. I think this will be beautiful in the space. Choreographically, it’s set in Hungry, 1930s, so there’s going to be a whole ‘period piece’ to it. So there’s some waltzing. There’s a tango piece. The score has some new age jazz at one point. So a whole different feel from ‘The Producers.’ A little bit more intimate, more relationship stuff going on and choreographically that will play into it too. It’s not known for big, giant dance numbers. But we’re infusing more choreography in more places than usual. And we’re actually putting a number back in, a dance number that was in the original – original, original – but was cut from later revivals, and we’re putting that back in.”

The cast is full of familiar faces including Tom Frey and Rebecca Brinkley, who are playing the love stuck shop clerks Georg and Amalia. The other shop clerks include Bridget Beirne as the sassy co-worker Ilona, Joe Bigelow as the slick Kodaly and Kraig Swartz as the long-suffering Sipos. All of which were in the Players’ musical “The Drowsy Chaperone,” last summer.

Greg Wood joins the cast as shop owner Mr. Maraczek. Wood is currently performing in “Mornings at Seven” at the Players.

The cast started rehearsal last week, and as is usual with summer stock, has less than two weeks to mount the musical before opening. Burns has come with his choreography mapped out, but he also wants to infuse the musical with what the performance have to bring to it, which just adds to the intimacy of the show for the audience, he said.

“I’m a planner,” Burns said, but added he also likes to playoff what the actors and dancers bring to a scene. “With this, there is a big, funny, chaotic cafe scene and I have an idea but I want to see what everyone brings to it.”

Burns is working alongside Players’ artistic director Gus Kaikkonen, who is directing, and musical director Tom Martin of Dublin.

Burns first experience at the Players was with “The Producers” in 2017.

“It was just so pretty here. The people are easy to work with here, collaborative, so when (Gus) called me for ‘She Loves Me’ I was available and I said yes, instant,” Burns said.

Burns started his career in California, where he was born and raised, as a TV show variety show dancer.

“I picked up theater because I could sing and I could do a lot of different kinds of dancing,’ Burns said.

He was in productions of “Guys and Dolls,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “La Cage aux Folles.” Picking up productions in Los Angeles and New York as well and national tours.

“I got called to New York to replace someone in Victor/Victoria. So I did that with Julie Andrews and Liza Minnelli and Raquel Welch and everybody that went through that door and that kept in me in New York for about 10, 12 years,” he said.

That led to Burns becoming an original member and a dancecaptain in the company of “Fosse” which led to his introduction to Tony award-winning choreographer Susan Stroman who tapped him to work in “The Producers.”

“I would say it was really Stroman who offered me a job as a resident directing choreographer for one of the national tours of “The Producers” and that gave me a lot of responsibility,” he said.

But looking back, Burns said he sees how he has been training throughout his career to be a choreographer, starting by assisting which led to jobs as a dance captain.

“You don’t realize until decades later, who you were working for and alongside,” Burns said. “A lot of my training, I never went to college for that, none of that. It just kind of happened. You just absorb and be a sponge. … You’ve got to be chameleon. And I pass this on to the young people that I work with. You’ve got to be ready, willing and then able to pull through, for whatever weird job comes your way, and hopefully, you’ll be able to say ‘yes’ and pull through for somebody.”

“She Loves Me” opens July 31 and runs through Aug. 11. For more information, visit the Peterborough Players, 55 Hadley Road, Peterborough, call (603) 924-7585 or go online to www.peterboroughplayers.org.




Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

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