Spotlight Series: Meet Cate Caplin, A Multiple Award-Winning Producer, Director and Choreographer


This Spotlight focuses on Cate Caplin, a multiple award-winning producer, director and choreographer whose talents have ignited productions on television, in films, music videos, commercials, and in theatrical venues worldwide. But of course, her busy schedule was put on hold with the rest of the world, just as she was beginning to direct and choreograph a musical very close to her heart.

While I assume almost everyone in the LA Theatre community knows of Cate and her contributions to the Arts, for those not lucky enough to have worked with her before, I am first sharing a bit of her theatrical background.

Cate Caplin has been devoted to the Arts all of her life, having started her dance training at age 5. She trained with many inspirational teachers and coaches over the years including summers at Interlochen Center for the Arts while continuing at the Washington School of Ballet, the Royal Academy in London, and the Metropolitan Ballet where she was a principal dancer.


Cate went on to dance with two more professional ballet companies before moving to NYC to continue her training, performing career dancing with the American Dance Machine, doing summer stock, performing internationally with the Broadway revival of West Side Story, and regionally with Disney's Symphonic Fantasy featured as Princess Jasmine for which she enjoyed a 22 city tour starting at the Hollywood Bowl and ending back in New York City at the Metropolitan Opera House. Her amazing talent and charisma on the dance floor led Cate to become a 34-time Regional and International Theatrical Ballroom Dance Champion.

To this date, Cate has produced, directed and choreographed over 200 productions with her work seen on television, in films, music videos, commercials, and in theatrical venues worldwide from the Paris Opera House to the Broadway Stage. She wrote and directed her first feature film Mating Dance, which won an Accolade Award and can be found on Amazon.com. Her production company, Night & Day Entertainment, co-founded with her creative partner Vernon Willet, custom designs entertainment for private parties, corporate events and industrial trade shows.

 

For her work in theatre, Cate has been the recipient of a Garland Award, a Women in Theatre Red Carpet Award, multiple LA Stage Alliance Ovation, Eddon and Scenie Awards, and was honored to receive an Award of Excellence from the LA Film Commission for her work as a Writer, Director, Choreographer and Producer. Last year, Playwright's Arena presented Cate with the Lee Melville Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Los Angeles Theatre Community.

So how has such a talented and totally creative person been able to deal with the Coronavirus pandemic which has sidelined theatre worldwide?  I spoke with Cate to find out.

Shari Barrett (SB): What production were you involved with when word went out it needed to immediately be either postponed or cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak? 

Cat Caplin (Cate): We had just cast 32 actors for a production of West Side Story that I was going to direct and choreograph for Inland Valley Repertory Theatre (IVRT) presented at Candlelight Pavilion. The show was officially canceled one day before our first day of rehearsal, same day that Broadway announced it was closing.

(SB): How was the shutdown communicated with the cast and production team? 

(Cate): The producer, Frank Minano, emailed me and then the entire creative team and cast. Hearts were broken, of course, as we were very excited to begin. I had been so looking forward to creating the production since I was cast in the revival of the show when it was finishing its run on Broadway back in the 80's, and went on a six-month International Tour throughout Italy and at the Paris Opera House for three months. Our production was directed by Jerome Robbins and conducted by Leonard Bernstein! Needless to say, it was a thrill of a lifetime working on that classic show with the original creators.

(SB): Let me know when you write a book about that tour! Are plans in place to present the IVRT production at a future date, or is the cancellation permanent? 

(Cate): I believe the production is canceled completely because IVRT selects their shows based on what Candlelight is producing since they share the backdrop and primary set of what's being presented in their season. I'm not sure how that will play out, especially since no one really knows when theatre will be officially back in full form anywhere, and West Side Story is a big show with lots of physical contact and bodies interacting and dancing in close quarters. The nature of theatre as we knew it is changing dramatically and only time will tell how and what sort of creative work will be presented over the next few months and years. Many companies are canceling seasons completely and postponing productions into 2021, and even that is an unknown entity at this point.

(SB): What future productions on your schedule are also affected by the shutdown?  

(Cate): I have a production I am scheduled to direct in the fall and we are continuing with pre-production conversations sensitive to health and safety elements that are now part of the overall discussion and approach to creating live theatre. I hope we go forward with the show, but like everyone else, we just have to take it one day at a time...

(SB): How are you keeping the Arts alive while at home by using social media or other online sites?  

(Cate): It's been interesting.... even though in theory I have more time each day without my usual classes, appointments, rehearsals and run around activities, my days continue to be quite full. I am reading lots of wonderful books, watching movies and some television series and specials I wouldn't ordinarily take the time to experience.

I have been taking some online classes offered by Yale University, and also tuning in to theatrical podcasts, seminars, and industry panel discussions since our theatrical community is intensely fertile at this time! I decided to jump into the electronic "pool" with everyone else and just signed on to direct my first Zoom staged reading of a new play later in July.

(SB): What thoughts would you like to share with the rest of the L.A. Theatre community while we are all leaving the Ghostlight on and promising to return back to the stage soon?

(Cate): It's important to keep open to learning, stretching and growing, mentally, emotionally and spiritually during tough times. And now that there's time for more channels of inspiration, embrace those opportunities. Trust the "bigger plan" and try to navigate these uncharted waters with hope and faith in a most positive outcome: a renaissance of heightened compassion, empathy, inclusiveness, humanity and peace.

(SB): For more information about Cate including future updates about her theatrical schedule, please visit CateCaplin.com, www.MatingDanceTheMovie.com, DanceInFlight.com


This article first appeared on Broadway World.



From Mormon to Callback Queen Actor/Singer Luke Monday Takes the LA Stage By Storm

Actor/singer Luke Monday has performed as standby for Elder Price in The Book of Mormon which just canceled at the Ahmanson Theatre. He is now preparing to perform his concert/cabaret at Rockwell Table & Stage on Monday March 16 entitled Callback Queen. In our interview Monday talks about both shows and how he really likes performing in Los Angeles.

I understand you are standby for Elder Price in The Book of Mormon. Have you gotten the chance to perform for this show yet? Do you cover other roles?

LM: Yes, I have been performing as a standby for Price! I went on for him on Tuesday March 3rd. I only cover Elder Price in the show. When it’s a role as demanding as this, often times companies will hire a standby just to cover that part. I’m the only Price standby in this company.

This is without a doubt the funniest musical comedy, especially for gay people. Are audiences still jumping out of their seats?

LM: They really are! I wasn’t sure what to expect since the show has played here a few times, but we’ve been selling really well and the crowds have been fantastic. I went on on a Tuesday night, and it honestly felt like a Friday night crowd. Totally electric. I loved it!

What do you think is the message of The Book of Mormon and do you think the message is important in today's mixed up world?

LM: My takeaway from the show is that it’s ok to follow your own path, even if it’s not what you expected. Particularly in Elder Price’s case, he’s had this very specific idea of how everything in his life (and afterlife) will play out. Obviously once he gets paired with Cunningham and sent to Uganda, that all gets derailed. But by the end of the show he learns to manage the change, and in that change he finds a new strength. I think that’s something anyone watching can learn from. Life always throws curve balls, but it’s all about how you handle the struggles and find a way to move forward!

Is this the favorite role you have played? If not, what is your favorite role and why?

LM: The Book of Mormon is definitely one of my top favorites! Maybe top 3? I love the music in this show. I remember watching the Tony’s one year, hearing I Believe for the very first time and thinking, “I can do that!” Almost 9 years and 3 auditions later and here I am! My other favorites would have to be Gabe in Next to Normal and George in She Loves Me.

You were in Mamma Mia. What part did you perform in that show and did you enjoy being in that production?

LM: Mamma Mia was a blast! One of the best experiences I’ve ever had. It was my first time touring, and the people in that show became my family. I was in the ensemble and I covered Sky, the fiancée. I loved Mamma Mia because no matter what negativity was going on in the world at the time, we could take the audience away for 2 hours and escape all of that and just have fun.

Your cabaret show Callback Queen premiered last summer in San Diego. You tell anecdotes about your career and sing Broadway show tunes. Can you give us a little sneak peek without creating a spoiler alert?

LM: The show sort of opens with my very first rejection, not getting the part I wanted in my 4th grade school play, and then we continue all the way to the present. I noticed a trend with concerts and cabarets that a lot of them are just greatest hits of roles people played or originated i.e. their success stories. And while that is perfectly great, I thought it would be interesting to flip that idea on its head and share stories of rejection. Every actor has them! Without giving away too much, there are going to be appearances from my talented friends from The Book of Mormon, awesome medleys and mashups, a costume reveal, glow sticks, and a choose-your-own finale. It should be a blast!

Do you have a favorite musical or composer or performer?

LM: I think it’s a tie between West Side Story and Ragtime for favorite musical. Two of the most glorious scores ever written, and sadly still so relevant now. I don’t think I’ve got a favorite composer. I appreciate so many of them for different reasons! But I have a few favorite performers. I’m a huge Gavin Creel fan. His voice was and is one of the best in the business. I want to play everything he’s ever played. I guess I’m on my way, seeing that he was an Elder Price! Another fav is Laura Osnes. She’s a true triple threat and just has a positive presence that I think is so important in a cut throat industry like this.

Have you auditioned for the King in Hamilton role yet? It's a funny, funny role.

LM: Obviously I’d love to play that part but I haven't auditioned yet! I think it’s pretty spectacular that a character can be onstage for such a short time and yet be so memorable. So it's definitely on my list of auditions to do. Thankfully Hamilton will be around for MANY years, so there’s time!

Tell our readers anything that I did not mention, like the camaraderie with your Mormon cast or how LA audiences are different from those in other cities across the country.

LM: Well, I love my cast. This is the longest I’ve been with any company and I can honestly say I love each one of them. We lift each other up, and I know they’ll be at Callback Queen on the 16th cheering me on. I think the audiences in LA are used to seeing great theater, so they are really smart! They pic up on the details and the nuances that often go unnoticed in other cities. Being here is a reminder of how truly funny and well written this show is. It feels new again in a way.

Catch Luke Monday on March 16 at Rockwell Table & Stage at 1714 N. Vermont Ave. in Hollywood in "Callback Queen." Call 323-669-1550 for table reservations. 

Both shows cancelled. Check back after the Corona Virus to see if Callback Queen will be rescheduled.


'Patrick Cassidy' Leaves '5-Star Theatricals' as Artistic Director

Patrick Cassidy has resigned as Artistic Director, according to a statement released by 5-Star Theatricals.

As Artistic Director, Cassidy oversaw two seasons of successful productions such as "Beauty and the Beast," "Shrek," "Roald Dahl's Matilda The Musical," and, most recently, "West Side Story" at 5-Star Theatricals' Thousand Oaks theatre venue.

5-Star Theatricals (formerly Cabrillo Music Theatre) is an Ovation Award-winning resident musical theatre production company of the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, and a non-profit theatre organization, producing live performing arts experiences and musical theatre productions for over three decades to the Ventura and Los Angeles Counties and the surrounding area patrons.

“We are so grateful to Patrick for the time he spent as Artistic Director of our company," said Executive Director Cindy Murray in a statement. "His talent and expertise continued the excellence that our subscribers and audiences expect from our productions. He will be greatly missed and we wish him nothing but the best as he moves forward on his artistic journey.”

As an actor, on Broadway Cassidy performed as Frederic in “The Pirates Of Penzance” opposite Kevin Kline in 1982, played Jeff Barry in the Tony-nominated “Leader Of The Pack,” and the Balladeer in Stephen Sondheim’s “Assassins.”

A theatrical director and producer as well, Cassidy is the son of Oscar-winning Shirley Jones and the late Jack Cassidy, and his past directing credits include “The Music Man” at the Kennedy Center, “Oklahoma!” at the Pittsburgh Playhouse, “Jesus Christ Superstar” at Western Michigan University, and “Showstoppers” at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas as resident director, to name a few.

“I have nothing but respect and admiration for the board and staff and everyone at 5-Star Theatricals," said Cassidy in the statement. "This experience has been a gift that I will never forget, and [I] am so grateful to have had the opportunity to serve my community and my Los Angeles theatrical family in this role.”

According to Tennessee publication, the Williamson Source, Cassidy, as Artistic Director, will be joining Studio Tenn,  a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in Franklin, Tennessee.

5-Star Theatricals is to announce a new Artistic Director soon.