10 | encore learned how to be a better director, a better actor, a better artist. And it’s great to come home to Atlanta and to the Alliance Theatre, specifically – a theatre that’s gone on to make its mark in the nation and the artistic community.” As former Artistic Director of first Alliance Theatre and then Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company (which he also co-founded), his Atlanta legacy is alive and well. Now more than 20 years since he turned over the reins at Alliance, he returns to his roots to direct the world premiere musical Trading Places.
SEEING THROUGH NEW EYES
While this version will be familiar to fans of the 1983 movie of the same name, Leon is takingthe opportunity to tell a new story for modern audiences. “I always treat each piece as if it’s a brand new piece,” he explained. “I try to honor the intentions of the original, but I try to look at it through fresh eyes. [The film’s creative team], including Eddie Murphy, put some amazing work on screen. But it would not be honoring them to just copy what they did and put it on stage. Honoring them is asking, ‘How does their work inspire me, being an artist in 2022?’” In this case, he thought a story about seeing the world through the eyes of someone very different would be perfect for today. “I couldn’t be more excited, because the musical is about if we were actually to trade places with each other,” he said. “With Trading Places, the reason to [adapt it now] is because of where we are in our country now, what we’ve gone through post-George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, where we are in recognizing that our differences could be our beauty.” He believes this is the perfect story to use to explore this idea. “We’re all different. We’re different with sexual orientation; we are different racially and culturally. And so the musical comedy explores the question, ‘If we were to trade places with each other, what would we learn? How great could we become?’” said the director. Whenever he adapts a story, whether stage-to-screen or screen-to-stage, he considers what it is artistically that makes the story right for the new medium.
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