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The Scarlet Pimpernel

Saturday Night Fever

Camille Claudel

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31 March 1999

Part Eight of Eight. Back to Part Seven...

NR: Yes, I've heard lots of stories. I remember watching them coming out saying, "We're in boot camp."

NK: There was no way on earth to have done what was done without working the way we did.

NR: That's obvious. It's mind-boggling. People say to me, "How different is this?" and I say, "I can't even begin to tell you how different this is."

NK: Bobby and Tom really amazed me. At one point I just took off my hat to them. I remember the day we did "The Rescue." I was watching a rehearsal and they were just starting to block "The Rescue" and by the end of two hours it was done.

NR: Wow.

NK: That's because Bobby and Tom planned out every single move, not only orally, but Tom had charts for each step of the way - who was standing where, who was doing what. Everything was planned out to the nth degree. I did go up to Nantucket for a little while in August just because I had to and I still worked up there. Bobby and Tom came up for a couple of days. Bobby and I were having meetings and Tom would be in the next room working on charts. Everything was laid out and Bobby did it. I really offhand can't think of anyone else who could have done what he did in such a short space of time.

NR: I've heard from others that the League helped keep the show open. Can you tell me what influence they really had?

NK: The League has definitely influenced the progress and history of this show in so many different ways. I remember the first time I heard that "this guy named Sal" was going through the TKTS line and urging people to go see Pimpernel. I was so amazed and touched, and the first time I met Sal, I just had to give him a big hug. When I would hear about things like this, I'd tell Bill and Pierre. I also sent Bill and/or Pierre copies of things people had written on the SP Playbill message board. Although this sort of thing never has a decisive impact on "the money guys," it definitely has a psychological impact, an emotional impact. Bill and Pierre loved and believed in the show, and every time it was reinforced to them that there were lots of other people out there who also loved and believed in it, and were FIGHTING for its survival, I know that made an emotional impact. Most producers would have closed SP in January of '98. Bill and Pierre and Teddy kept it going. I remember being amazed at the support and enthusiasm at that first lunch at Barrymore's when I first met League people- that made a real impression on me, made me so happy. I also remember that during the period when I was regularly faxing Teddy in May and June that I would often tell him about the Internet support and enthusiasm. I guess I can really only give a definitive answer here by saying that the devotion of the League influenced me enormously, and helped give me the backbone and determination to get in there and really fight for the show. If audiences and the League had been apathetic, then I might just have crawled into my depressive hole and given up. But your spirit helped mine burn brighter. There is a lot of "Into the Fire" in my sentimental soul, and I really set out like a soldier last May through July to try and save SP, and it's a hell of a lot easier to fight battles when you know you've got an army standing behind you. Lots of nights I'd read things on the Playbill SP board and it would renew my faith- you know, I'd think, "I'm not crazy- this show does make people happy. Damn it, I am going to fight for it." It's awe-inspiring to know that you've been part of a show that has touched and inspired others. It makes you braver and more determined. Without knowing how many people loved the show, I don't know how I would have fought the battle. It's hard to fight all alone.

NR: So, what's ahead for you in the future...other than Saturday Night Fever, which must be very exciting?

NK: Yes, that's very exciting. It's a big hit in London, which is great. I think it's the most exciting choreography I've seen in ages. It's really wonderful fun. Arlene Phillips, the director, and I have a great working relationship and I've been very happy with that. I'm writing a murder mystery/comedy for the stage. It's not a musical. I'll probably be finished with that in another month and then start seeing what I'm going to do with that. I'm working on another musical called Open House with a different composer named Howard Marren and the whole thing takes place in a dollhouse, but it's not a kids' musical. It's definitely for adults. The characters are the dolls and different creatures that live in a doll house over a long period of time as history changes around them. I got the idea because for years and years I kept walking by my daughter's dollhouse and I'd notice that the father had been standing in the middle of the staircase for three years and I'd think, "This is a major metaphor for life." The whole family had been sitting around eating wedding cake for two years and I always kept thinking for years, "This is a musical, this is a play. You know, to go into this dollhouse and make these people characters." One Christmas my daughter was given an extra father, so suddenly, there she was with her dollhouse but she had two fathers. She came to me a few days later and said, "Well, I've worked it out. The old father is now going to be the babysitter and he's going to live in the attic. The new father..." I thought, "This is a show. This is absolutely a show." I've written it. I actually wrote it years ago and most of the music is done too but it now needs a major overhaul and we now have a director so I'm going to start major work on that fairly soon too. So, those are my most immediate projects.

NR: It sounds terrific. Thank you so much. This has been so fascinating.

NK: You're welcome.

This interview was truly an honor. How often do you get the opportunity to discuss a work that you love with the person who created it? I am very grateful to Nan for the time she has given me. I wish her much success with Saturday Night Fever and cannot wait to see her other projects come to fruition. She deserves nothing but the best.

Questions suggested by:

Marc Roselli, Kia, Joanne Kwak, Joanna Morton-Gary, Phyllis Palemire, Mary Helfrick, Dani Biancolli, Andrea Barranti, Susan and Lauren Cassidy, Kathy Thurlow, Carolyn Peters, Jan Kolb, Andrew Reith, Tom Robson, Naomi Solomon, Shari Perkins, Kelly Honig, Sara Taddeo, Lois Colpo, Ken Miller, Colleen Rosati, Linda Guenette

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