For the first time, one of the three directors for Summer Stock Austin's musicals, Daniel Adams, is himself a graduate of this program that mixes professional performers with college and high school students. Adams, who joined the company in 2005, was then a freshman theater major at St. Edward's University, where he earned an Austin Critics Table Award for his performance in "Honk." He went on to earn a graduate degree in directing from Columbia University. He is directing "Sister Act," a stage adaptation of the the Whoopi Goldberg movie about a nightclub singer who witnesses a crime then joins a convent as part of the witness protection program. The other two summer shows are the Frank Loesser classic, "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying," and a new family musical from Austin's Allen Robertson, "Haunted: A Ghost Story."
American-Statesman: What did you learn from your four years in Summer Stock Austin?
Daniel Adams: You get to learn every aspect of theater as a craft. You hang and focus lights, build props, stitch costumes, work on publicity and fundraising, various forms of producing, as well as the performance aspects. All those things. That was the first time I felt like part of a company, where we were working together to make the show happen — no matter what.
How did graduate school prepare you to come back as a director?
At Columbia, it's very practical, so in the first semester, we are each putting together two fully staged small productions a week. You get really good at trusting your instincts. I also learned the importance of change, meaning being able to track where someone is, and where they are going, and how they got there. For instance, in "Sister Act," today we worked on the moment where Deloris realizes that a coat Curtis, her boyfriend, gave her belongs to his wife. That is the "event" of that scene. And that's a moment of change, the moment Deloris realizes "I'm better than this."
Now you are dealing with a mix of talents at different ages and levels. How do you adjust to that?
I'm really lucky because because Mikkie Lamas, who plays Deloris, is a student at Texas State University. She's amazing. She's a star. Really freaking talented. With this group, I don't feel like I have to be a teacher, I'm just treating all of them like professionals and have the same expectations of them that I would of any actor I've worked with before.
Why stage "Sister Act"?
The exciting thing about working on this play is that you get to watch a community of women form and develop over the course of the musical. You watch their hearts open to each other. You get to witness them put their lives on the line for each other. At the end, they have this kind of "I am Spartacus" moment where they offer themselves in sacrifice for Deloris. Now, none of the songs from the movie are in it, so instead of the doo-wop, girl-group songs, it's all original disco music. It's upbeat, tuneful, funny and clever.